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London Art Fair 2023 – Highlights

Jpbowen, CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

Staff writer Mina Yasar tells us about the best galleries that are presenting at this year’s London Art Fair. 

As we are approaching the middle of January, there are a variety of new art events for Londoners to visit. The London Art Fair will be open from 18 to 22 January 2023 at Business Design Centre, Islington. There will be nearly 100 galleries specialising in Modern and Contemporary Art. It is an art fair that everyone should visit, as it will give you the chance to see new and leading galleries at the same time. Since there are a lot of galleries to visit, it could be hard to decide which ones should be a must-see. So, here is a list of suggestions for you to consider.

AIR CONTEMPORARY

Thanks to the London Art Fair, I had the opportunity to explore “Air Contemporary”. From 18 to 22 January, you will be able to find this gallery in Stand G8B. David Spiller’s artworks, such as “I’ll See You In My Dreams (2022)” and “Stay Close To Me (2020)”, were some of those that drew my attention. In his work, Spiller uses figures from popular culture and media including Olive Oyl and Mickey Mouse. The featured artists will be Ella Freire, David Spiller, Peter Clack, David Shrigley, Piers Bourke and many more.

All of the artists’ works are exceptional but my favourite is David Shrigley’s works. One of the paintings that drew my attention was “Live Each Day As If It Were Your First“. I like the way this sentence was used in the painting because it was unexpected. When I first looked at the painting, I only saw a little yellow animal. I tried to understand the relationship between the animal and the sentence. It is fascinating because I like seeing artworks that make me think. When some things are put in a different context, they could have new meanings. It reminded me of museums and how objects sometimes change meaning according to curation and exhibition. Shrigley is a graduate of the  Glasgow School of Art who has contributed to numerous magazines and has been nominated for The Turner Prize. The artist’s works are included in the collections of famous museums and cultural institutions such as the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Tate, and The British Council in London, and the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art. Over the last few months, I explored numerous artists via Air Contemporary, so I would recommend that you visit this gallery’s booth at London Art Fair.

WILDER GALLERY

Wilder Gallery is another gallery that I learned about through the London Art Fair. The gallery itself is located at 77 College Road and, at the fair, visitors can see their artworks at stand P13.

For me, the standout artist who will be shown at this gallery is Lydia Baker. Baker is a graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University and the New York Academy of Art. She has had other solo and duo exhibitions in places like New York City.

As is stated on the gallery’s social media account: Baker is known for her surreal and symbolic “dreamscapes”. Said “dreamscapes” are depicted in an unusual and interesting way, often seeming blurry. As is indicated on the gallery’s website, the natural elements of some of the artworks seem humanised and the recurring motif of water could symbolise “vitality and purity”.

This is also Baker’s first exhibition with Wilder Gallery. You can look at some more information about her artworks on the gallery’s website.

VIRGINIA VISUAL ARTS

VirginiaVisualArts will be participating in the 2023 London Art Fair. The art gallery is mostly known for its previous exhibitions, which included works of famous artists like Judy Chicago, Martin Kippenberger and Maria Papadimitriou.

Artists Kenny Nguyen and Linda Colletta’s artworks will be displayed at the fair. I had the opportunity to explore Kenny Nguyen’s artwork last month. I found the artwork “Desire” (2022) very interesting when I first saw it on the website. So, if you have time you could visit this gallery at P12. Nguyen calls the artworks “deconstructed paintings“. The way the artist described his work as “deconstructed” seemed interesting to me: you can see that the artist cut and painted silk strips to create his paintings. This could be related to Nguyen’s fashion background – he also worked in the fashion industry, and his artworks show us how fashion and art are connected. The artist is Vietnamese-born, so the use of silk in his artwork recalls the tradition of this material in Vietnam.

CANDIDA STEVENS GALLERY

Candida Stevens Gallery was established in 2012 and the gallery includes artworks from emerging and established artists. I like the effort that the gallery and curators put into the publication of the catalogue for the artworks that will be displayed at the fair. You could find the publication on their website and explore the artists and artworks in a more detailed way. I think it is really beneficial to read about artists and artworks before going to art fairs, because there are a lot of galleries to explore and most of us have a limited time to visit. Raffael Bader, Pippa Blake, Nici Bungey, and Fred Coppin are some of the artists whose works will be displayed. One of my favourites was Fred Coppin’s “Higher Ground” (2022). I loved the way Coppin shares emotions in his work. We learn from the catalogue that Coppin’s father passed away around the same time that he had a child, an event that he seems to comment on in this artwork. I also liked Kerry Harding’s “But unapproached it stands” (2022), particularly its use of colour and the way the landscape was depicted. Harding indicates in the catalogue that the artist didn’t have any unique connections in Cornwall, but when moved there he really loved it. I liked how the artist called Cornwall “home” and how the artist tried to share it with us via the painting.

PHOTO50

“Photo50” is an annual photography exhibition. It’s interesting and makes the London Art Fair special, and it is on Friday 20 January. There are also some talks about photography in the fair, for example, “How Do Women Curate Photography?”

As someone who has been through a “Curating Photography” course, I am very excited about this part of the fair. The 2023 edition of “Photo50” is curated by Pelumi Odubanjo and Katy Barron. As stated in the social media account of the fair, visitors can see artworks from women of different backgrounds and think about “home” as a place for memory.

OTHER GALLERIES TO EXPLORE IN THE FAIR

I have mentioned some of the galleries which drew my attention. However, there are nearly 100 participant galleries that visitors can explore in the fair, and I recommend you visit as many as possible. However if you do not have enough time, you could visit 155A Gallery and explore artworks of artists like Jason Line, Lucy Giles and Clare Haward; Dan Kelly in G2B; and Aleph Contemporary in P21. I also recommend Amanda Aldous, which specializes mostly in Post-War British Art, in G13.

TALKS AND PANELS

There will be talks and panels about subjects such as “Art Consultancy: How To Start Your Collection”, “What Is The Role of Museums Today?”, and “Becoming a Virtual Museum” which is my favorite. If you are interested in museum studies, art history or visual arts, you should attend some of those seminars.

Staff Writer

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