London Art Fair (January 2023)
This January, the ArtULTRA team went to the London Art Fair in Islington, London. It was great to return to this annual art fair, which focuses on fine art made within the past 100 years - mostly painting, printmaking and small-scale sculpture. The fair's featured artists ranged from modern masters like Picasso and Chagall to contemporary practitioners like the interdisciplinary photographer and actor Heather Agyepong.
Winding our way through the gallery stalls was thrilling - it’s always exciting to see what artwork hangs around the next corner! The large amount of work on display, often tightly-packed, gave the London Art Fair an intimate and buzzing atmosphere. We would like to share with you the artists that we found the most exciting at the fair. Check them out by clicking on their names, which are hyperlinked to their respective galleries or artist websites.
The Abstract Expressionist British artist Gary Wragg wowed us with his work Grey Painting, exhibited at The Nine British Art stand. The work’s dense strokes and luminous grey ground created a beautiful glowing effect. Likewise, we loved Roger Holtom's abstract painting Heartland with dense swirls of paint and smoky glazes. Walasse Ting exhibited a series of acrylic paintings on rice paper at the Catto Gallery stand that combined bright floral colours with elegantly outlined figures and birds. We especially loved Ting’s Two Green Parrots and Two Ladies. There were delicate abstract paintings using gold and silver leaf by the Japanese-born New York-based artist Takefumi Hori. The surfaces of Hori’s work are delicately layered, scraped, burnished and cracked to evoke a sense of magnificence and deterioration at the same time.
Sculpture-wise, we were astonished by the Neapolitan artist Alberto Fusco’s geometric wall reliefs using discarded paper. Ramiro Fernandez Saus’s miniature oil-painted bronze sculptures were captivating, including a dog with pink wings and a man riding a zebra. Saus’s painting A Love Story was equally joyful and mysterious, using the artist’s signature wavey brush marks and naive style to depict an old-fashioned study inhabited by sparrows. We were particularly impressed by Harriet Mena Hill’s series of paintings on found concrete slabs, The Aylesbury Fragments. Hill used concrete fragments of the demolished social housing as the support on which to paint haunting images of the very same buildings’ empty corridors and anonymous facades. Hill's paintings sometimes recorded graffiti and other architectural interventions that reminded us of the ghostly presence of Aylesbury's past inhabitants.
Our favorite prints included a bright still-life screenprint of flowers by Oisin Byrne, a radiant monotype by Diana Copperwhite, and Daniel Hosego’s screenprints comically quoting 17th-century engravings of old master paintings. Similarly playful and irreverent, Shadi Rezaei’s take on Timurid miniature art also captured our attention. Her work is both hand-painted and digitally-collaged, giving old Iranian epic tales from the Book of Kings a new feminist, post-colonial twist in order to negotiate historical and current forms of violence and political antics. P. J. Crook’s paintings meticulously rendered a cosmopolitan world with jostling guests at a dinner party and newspaper headlines in a city crowd. The way Crook’s paintings encompassed their frames seemed a playful comment on painting’s failure to capture the many forms of human life and opinion.
Artists’s depictions of nature were fantastically varied at the fair. We loved the emerging artist Simone Alber’s abstract acrylic paintings of swirling microbial forms and smooth colour gradations. Her works were reminiscent of weird and wonderful sea creatures suspended in the ocean. Katharine Le Hardy’s landscape painting Stillness Covers the Forest used thin, translucent layers of oil paint to evoke dense jungle foliage. Le Hardy’s work gave a sense of the deterioration inherent to human memory, and the fragility of current rainforest ecosystems. Holly Halkes’ painting Feeling Rotten with black bananas and mouldy apples playfully inverted fruit’s traditional associations with sensual delight and temptation in Western Art.
Overall, we had a great morning: it was wonderful to see so many unique artistic approaches, especially to painting. Generally, the London Art Fair is a good fair to visit and discover some new talent, as well as find prints of establilshed artists. A good show to put in your annual art fair diary.