London Art Fair Review
By Christina Nafziger
In our current art scene, where new art fairs seem to be springing up out of the ground every year, it can be difficult to choose which ones are worth your while. An even more daunting task is sifting your way through what can seem like an endless maze of gallery booths all packed with artwork that you would like to see. Simply put, there is never enough time to spend with the artwork you truly enjoy once you find it.
Luckily, the London Art Fair, which took place from the 18th – 22nd of January this year, was large enough for every visitor to definitely get their money’s worth of incredible art, but not so overwhelming that you might feel a slight sense of panic trying to rush to every booth. Although quality art could be found in most corners of the fair, I found the most unique and thought-provoking artwork to be located at the Art Projects section.
“The section has established itself as an important international platform for new galleries to showcase the most stimulating contemporary practice, and continues to garner widespread critical acclaim.” (londonartfair.co.uk)
The 22 galleries represented here featured outstanding emerging artists whose artwork ranged from photography, painting, video, to installation. Distinctive elements like ‘Dialogues’, a feature that forms collaborations between galleries, cultivated discourse that further engaged its audience, challenging what art fairs can accomplish through collaboration. This year’s theme was focused on, “issues of our time, looking at history, race and collectivity alongside explorations of imaginaries, representation and subjectivity.” (london.co.uk)
What made the Art Projects area consistently visually striking from booth to booth was the fact that each gallery displayed a selection of curated artwork with a specific vision in mind. Standing out in this international mix of galleries was London’s own BEARSPACE, whose exhibition Draw Bridges used the electric colour of Lucinda Metcalfe's paintings and the gravity-bending cityscapes of Jane Ward to pull in anyone passing by. The exhibition “explores the bridge as a symbol of connectivity by promising an experience of another place.” (BEARSPACE)
The two artists’ works offered a powerful contrast aesthetically. Metcalfe uses strokes of vivid colour with intensities that embody both L.A. and Las Vegas. Her bold magentas, coral oranges, and bright blues create enticing poolside scenes that could make someone seriously consider moving to sunny California. Ward’s complex compositions leave us wondering if they depict utopian or dystopian civilizations, as they appear to bend, warp, and overlap over the city structures and the nature disrupting it. Together, the artists offer us scenes of altered worlds, not so different from our own, with just a touch of illusive fantasy.
BEARSPACE gallery is located at 152 Deptfor High Street, SE8 2PQ in London. Information on London Art Fair 2018 can be found at http://www.londonartfair.co.uk.