London Art Fair 2018

Visitors to the annual London Art Fair have an opportunity to see an overwhelming number of works of art presented by national and international galleries under one roof.

While the main fair takes place on the ground floor, younger newer galleries primarily showing the work of emerging artists, in solo and group shows, are on the first floor.  The subsidised Art Projects have a more contemporary feel and the curation and hang are often less formal.  It is here that I found work most inspiring and relevant to the development of my own practice.  I was particularly drawn to Osservatorio  by James Brooks showing with Canal Gallery.

Osservatorio, James Brooks (detail)

Osservatorio, James Brooks (detail)

I have been thinking over ways in which to map a favourite a walk and seeing Osservatorio has helped to crystallise some ideas.  It was reassuring to see intimately scaled work so effectively displayed.

Other works that caught my eye were often prints and drawings where marks of the artist’s own hand are clearly evident such as Nana Shiomi’s woodcut on Japanese paper, which has the added pleasure of the woodgrain highlighted within an otherwise uncomplicated composition dominated by the simple shape of the teabowl.

Tea Bowl Series, Nana Shiomi

Tea Bowl Series, Nana Shiomi

Untitled by Patrick Scott (1921-2014) is eye-catching for several reasons.  It is a very large print of a geometric form based on the Japanese kimono. The carborundum clearly shows the brush marks made by the artist, bringing the human touch in contrast to overall ascetic feel of the work. 

Untitled, Patrick Scott (detail)

Untitled, Patrick Scott (detail)

While the print is delicately coloured, it also incorporates gold leaf.  The use of gold leaf is another element I have begun to incorporate into my printmaking.  The discovery of this Irish artist, previously unknown to me, is timely.  The wall label included a passage from Mel Gooding’s book on Patrick Scott  giving further food for thought.

When Scott uses colour, it is always off-set by gold. Otherwise his colour is usually palely translucent - chlorophill greens and insubstantial whites irradiated by light. Gold is neither the combined spectrum of white, nor the absence of colour that is black. It is substance and when we look at gold we see pure refelcted light. It presents itself as timeless and unchanging and Patrick Scott has recovered this ancient sign and put it to the service of Art.
— Mel Gooding; Patrick Scott: A Modern Master

Presentation and curation have repeatedly come up in my tutorials and I looked out for interesting and unusual displays.  Most notable was Chiara Williams Contemporary Art showing In Times of brutal Instability by Frances Richardson, a series of post-it notes, beautifully recreated in curved wood with an added trompe l’oeil pile of carpet made of quick drying cement.  To encourage visitors to move into the stand and to view the work more closely, the gallery sacrificed part of their wall to reduce the depth of the stand.  On another stand, Gil Hanly’s photographs were simply and poignantly presented in boxes of photographic papers delicately perched two doweling rods (invisible at first glance).  The look was clean and uncluttered, focusing the attention on the relatively small photographs unusually presented horizontally.

Gil Hanly (detail)

Gil Hanly (detail)

This was a worthwhile visit, which has given me much to consider.

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