Across the spectrum of art fairs, you have the big ones such as Frieze, Art Basel, and 1-54, but you also have the London Art Fair. Known as the longest-running contemporary and modern art fair in the UK, the fair was founded in 1989 by London’s Business Design Centre, with its main aim to provide a home for modern British art. If we fast forward to today, the fair displays modern and contemporary art by renowned artists from the early 20th century to the present day. At its inception, it showcased 36 UK galleries, some of which still appear at the fair to this day, and over the past three decades, the fair has steadily grown to well over 100 galleries with a growing presence of international artists.
The London Art Fair prides itself on creating an experience that enables visitors to delve into regional collections – it is a space to discover, learn, and engage; visitors are given the opportunity to explore various works from the emerging to the established. Just like the big fairs, you can expect a rich programme filled with curated talks, panel discussions, and insights from the exhibiting artists and galleries.
This year saw the fair collaborate with The Women’s Art Collection to celebrate the contribution of women to the art world.
In terms of art which caught my eye, starting with modern painters, we have Anthony Benjamin and Edward Middleditch.
Colourful and expansive is Anthony Benjamin’s work in a nutshell. An abstract painter with a command for the colours blue and red. Although in Overlayers for Meddlers, he’s more subtle with his use of the two colours. Moreover, it should also be noted that in his work and this, we see these non-geometric shapes.
Middleditch’s Tree in Blossom was an interesting piece, it’s abstract in composition but also impressionistic. Everything appears rough, like seawater – the brush strokes look so abrasive. But that’s the beauty of this piece because even the shadows of the tree have this distinct rawness to them.
Moving on to some contemporary artists, we have Nick Veasey, Lizzie Riches, Tiffanie Delune and Melanie Comber.
My first encounter with Nick Veasey’s work was on Instagram a couple of years ago, and after seeing the work in person and speaking to him and his family I appreciated the work even more. Veasey uses X-rays to show the beauty of our world but also deconstruct it.
In this piece by Lizzie Riches, we see the combination of renaissance and contemporary themes – the contemporary aspects ground the work to this period. The figure in this piece looks poised and elegant, and this is accentuated by the white background.
Rich and effervescent with colour are what I would use to describe Tiffanie Delune’s work. Delune’s work focuses on her heritage, her femininity and her spirituality. All of these coalesce to provide the viewer with a unique experience as they traverse through her work.
When it comes to my favourite artist from this year’s fair, it has to be Melanie Comber. When I saw her work for the first time, I immediately said, “How did she create these?” With my follow-up being, “This has to be made from sand?!” And to my surprise, they weren’t.
The execution behind these pieces is something to truly marvel at. Comber creates these barren landscapes from materials such as oil and pigments. Reminiscent of locations such as the Sahara Desert, Comber creates these worlds full of wonder and mystery; the works straddle between reality and the abstract; it’s a serendipitous mash-up of a photograph, a painting and a sculpture.
Moreover, this mini-memoir would not be complete without mentioning some sculptors. Two that caught my attention were Oliver Barratt and Victor Seaward.
Expressive and whimsical, Barratt makes steel look so fluid; Geometry is thrown out of the window when it comes to Barratt’s sculptures. As the artist says himself, “I find myself drawn to the imagined place where what I know leads to what I do not know, and what is understood gives way to what I do not know.”
With regards to Seaward, his sculptures were a great addition to the fair – the execution behind them is impeccable and should be commended.
With the art world slowly returning from its August slumber, I wanted to use this quiet period to retrospectively look back at The London Art Fair. Fairs such as these can be refreshing and a fantastic way to see UK-based artists and galleries you are less familiar with. Within the art world, in particular, the UK, London is seen as synonymous with the UK’s art scene. But if we look beyond London, and jump on the M1 or the M6, you’ll find some gems across the UK.
So if you’re in London come January 2023, then definitely check out the London Art Fair.
Written by David Ogbechie
Edited by Chard Adio
Photo credit: Featured image by Mark Cocksedge (Outside of London’s Business Design Centre)