17 January 2013

Art | london art fair, part 1 // art projects

As you may or may not be aware, London Art Fair is in its 25th year and can currently be found north of the river at the Business Design Centre in Islington. Running from today until the 20th, the fair brings together 130 galleries showing a mixture of Modern British and contemporary art up to the present day. Alongside the main fair are two curated spaces, Photo50 and Art Projects, which give newer galleries and artists a chance to exhibit among the big players.

Having worked at the fair a couple of years ago, I am lucky enough to be there again this year. Determined to make the most of my time there I have decided to tackle this beast in stages, taking it out one section at a time. It really can feel quite overwhelming to be presented with so many galleries, artists and works in such a labyrinthine space and so, mustering my strength - both mental and physical, my bag was heavy - I began.

Today, Art Projects.

And breeeeeeeeathe.

Art Projects has been part of LAF for the past 8 years and gives some of the leading contemporary galleries the chance to curate solo or group shows in a space away from the main hall. Galleries pitched ideas for exhibitions and the variety within the space is truly breathtaking. It really would be ridiculous, tedious and pretty monotonous to go through even a chunk of what is there, let alone all of it, so I noted down the things I really thought were worth mentioning and one massive thing that really, really isn't (but I'm going to mention it anyway because criticism is fun and constructive. But mainly fun).

And so we begin.

Joachim Froese's work, exhibited as part of the Troika Editions show at P10 explores the constructive nature of memory; each of the images has been created by montaging photos into one image or positioning frames so as to create a 'fuller' picture, manufacturing a variety of scenes and situations. I actually overhead Joachim talking about the work and the parallel between the way we construct memories as we look back at them and the technique he has developed for constructing his photographs.

I love the Alice in Wonderland quality of these teapot works, feels both mystical and ominous.

Meanwhile, Clive Hanz Hancock's work at THE RESIDENCE GALLERY (God capitals make everything look so terrifying) is a stunning study of colour within the minimalist show of stand P3. Four black square boxes are filled with coloured tubes which, in turn, house little elements shaped like the end of a crayon. The subtle changes in colour draw you in as the tones appear to ripple through the work.

Two works caught my eye over at La Scatola Gallery (G48). Steven Morgana's (check out the website, over-doing the minimalist approach much?!) Ouroboros is a photographic montage that brings together a group of 6x4 photographs of rainbows to create a circle of light with no beginning and no end, much like the ancient symbol of a snake eating its own tail after which the piece is named. Whilst the photos individually hold little appeal aesthetically or formally, the creation of this never-ending rainbow is quite beautiful and its glowing ring seems to jump off of the surface of the work.

Untitled with skirts up (above) is one of many paintings by Sarah Maple at the stand and was my personal favourite. I mean, what isn't to like. Sarah Maple is a massive screaming feminist and her work is both humorous and telling. Another work I love, which isn't at the fair unfortunately, is Menstruate with pride, below. Fuck yeah! Go us! I shall not buy tampons in shame!

If I were you I'd definitely check out Sarah's website. There's a classic painting of the Virgin Mary eating a banana - wish I'd known about it when I was writing my 3rd year theology essay on controversial contemporary artworks of good ol' Mazza. I also particularly like the photo declaring 'The opposite to a feminist is an Arsehole'. Can't argue with that.

My absolute must-see piece in Art Projects is at stand P9. Hanmi Gallery is located in London but also operates in Seoul, aiming to create a 'bridge between the Eastern and Western art scenes and showcasing the finest of modern and contemporary art to an international audience'.

Sangjin Kim's In Visibility_the Bible is a abso-frigging-lutely stunning. As the printer element at the top of the work prints the words of the bible onto the surface of the water, the letters of this holy text dissolve into the liquid, slowly drifting to the bottom of the tank where the ink gathers in an ever-growing mass of black. Hanmi Gallery's press release states the work's 'temporality and momentary quality resembles [the] fragility of our belief where often our reality relies upon'. For me, the work also mirrors the slow disintegration of religion, where texts and beliefs become watered down into numerous differing factions whilst gathering as a gradually, but relentlessly, increasing mass.

I love its ephemeral nature and its hazy beauty. Truly brilliant.

Not something I can say about Limoncello gallery.

I don't know what stand it was, I'm not going to look it up. Go there if you must but I am avoiding condoning it.

Their proposal for the exhibition space was Take Me Out.

No, seriously.


Can you spell gimmick?

One work, created by a male artist, stood on a plinth in the middle of the stand whilst works by female artists covered the three walls, jostling for space and, supposedly, the mans attention. Limoncello claims it mirrored the ITV show. I would beg to differ. Take Me Out is actually good.

A couple of works were interesting, such as Emilia Bergmark's Self Portrait as a Goldfish and Vanessa Billy's Man Moves, but the majority of the works seemed to be taking the piss out of the art world in a way even Damien Hirst would grimace at. Even I draw the line at two pieces of sugar paper stuck together and hung from a nail, however well they are hand-dyed or hand-stuck or whatever the hell they were. Not even M&S could sell that crap, and the sexy voice-over man can sell anyyything. Even a hunka beef, and I'm a vegetarian.

Anyway, moving on from this minor incident, the Art Projects was insightful and varied and well worth a look. It's always interesting to see what's emerging and where galleries are going (and who with) and I would 100% recommend the space if you're at the fair or in London this week!

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