I have been to the London Art Fair a few times now. I like it for a number of reasons. Firstly it is relatively easy to score free tickets, as I did this year courtesy of the Law Society Art Group. Secondly I can walk there from my house. Thirdly it is large, but not too large, and lastly it is one of the few places where you can see a large selection of post war British Art, a period I am liking more and more.
Held in the lofty, airship hanger like space of the business design centre there are basically four zones to the fair. The first zone, which you enter is where the eye wateringly expensive galleries are and you can, if you have the wherewithal snaffle yourself a small Henry Moore.. Then onto the main promontory (pictured above) where you will find people like Phillip Lanyon, Winifred Nicholson and the prices drop into the £10,000. You will also find the higher end of the more contemporary market (including Charlie Smith, the gallery for Hugh Mendes). The cheapest items tend to be high end modern pottery like the excellent Japenese style vases seen below left.
A balcony surrounds the main arena and again the prices drop into the thousands and occasionally below. These galleries tend to display contemporary still active artists.
A Finally, emanating off the balcony is what I would call the project area. This contains more installation type work, more outre media, younger and newer artists and varies greatly in quality. This year they had managed to double the area in size and I have to say I didn't make it round it all.
There is a way, at least one way, to see a show such as this . To go round in detail is too much, takes to long. The museum feet set in and after a while all you see is colour and noise. Start in the project area, walk round gently and go into the galleries where something catches your eyes. Then the balcony and then the lower areas. If you start at the bottom and work up the work of the modern masters will spoil you for everything else, and also the price anchoring will make you think that £2,000 is a modest price, when of course it is not. Mind you I have yet to buy anything from the fair. The things I like cost to much. A word then on the things I liked.
obbie Russon produces these spooky miss-formed portraits. The ones I liked most were these tiny little portraits (above left). Quite pricey at £900 a through. A sort of religious iconic quality to them. A man to watch I suspect. He had much bigger work on display at considerably higher prices.
The three pieces on the bellow right are by Steve Easby. I have a soft spot for old fashioned painting done by modern artists done well and with something about them.
The one top right is a sort of Egyptian Lowry, and I like it very much. I particularly like the mushroom like trees and the person with the axe at the bottom. It is a picture that reveals more the more you look at it. It is by Heath Hearn.
Everyone likes a lustorous bowl. I have lost my note of the artist, zooming into the label reveals it to be by Sutton Taylor . I like the way the reds and blues meld into each other. Pottery always catches my attention.
These two small paintings did there best to hide from everyone being shamefully hidden under a much bigger piece at approximately knee level. Apologies for the bad photo. Nicky Knowles is the artist. She doesn't seem to have her own website. Why don't you have your own website? Maybe its hidden on page 2 of google. Anyway, these two little sweet paintings are very well constructed and appealing in their simplicity. Like all good abstracts they invite you to see shape. I see an elephant in the one on the right.
Not just lustorous puts attach my attention but also this vaguely earn like severe and ominous bowl by Jason Wason. Incidentally the LSG is one of the most consistently good galleries at the fair and always worth a look. I would like that thing on some enormous plinth in the centre of the substantial hall that I don't have.
It was a good fair and I enjoyed it. Maps got allot of attention as they always do (below right) and I found a spiky thing I thought was good. Speaking to a few people afterwards though it was not a good fair for the galleries. The number of sales was small and a number of galleries sold nothing at all. Given that you need to sell quite a bit to break even this is not good news. The uncertainty of the dreaded brexit was most often blamed.
William John Mackenzie
I am an artist with a specialism in landscapes and still life. My contact details are here.