London Art Fair 2019 Review

London Art Fair 2019 Review

A view from above just one corner of the maze of gallery stands at the Art Fair 2019

A view from above just one corner of the maze of gallery stands at the Art Fair 2019

The London Art Fair is back and it’s better than ever. Now in its 31st year, this five-day takeover is one of the capital’s biggest showcases of the contemporary art scene. Far from embodying the modern cliché of obscure pieces that make most shout ‘but my child could have done that!’ there was a stunning array of incredible pieces from 130 of the world’s best galleries that show the skill and imagination of global artists is absolutely alive and kicking. 

Peter Seal’s abstract, geometric paintings are captivating and offer studies of graduated colour that make his works seem effortless yet highly crafted

Peter Seal’s abstract, geometric paintings are captivating and offer studies of graduated colour that make his works seem effortless yet highly crafted

Each stand was looked after by a mix of curators, gallery directors and art dealers so there was potential for networking as well as being inspired. This made for some interesting overhearing too, the hosts definitely knew their stuff and conversations between the steady mix of browsers and buyers gave the inside scoop on ones to watch. 

Works from the hugely famous Van Ray were on show, offering poppy plays on advertising and iconic figures to bring urban art into the gallery

Works from the hugely famous Van Ray were on show, offering poppy plays on advertising and iconic figures to bring urban art into the gallery

The Art Fair has a reputation for a reason, heading inside the Business Design Centre in Angel is like taking on over one-hundred of the year’s best exhibitions under one roof, with talks, tours and events thrown in for good measure. It’s a mammoth show and could easily be overwhelming. Luckily, I was passed a handy guide on the way in with a pull-out map directing me around the three floors of artworks, soI had the choice to be discerning or wander for hours – it could take all day to see even half of what’s on offer. 

Dionisio Gonzalez’s digitally manipulated, hyper-realistic photos of impossible architecture feel like a window into the future.

Dionisio Gonzalez’s digitally manipulated, hyper-realistic photos of impossible architecture feel like a window into the future.

The first thing I noticed was the range of styles: sculpture, painting, installation, ceramics, outlandish and rebellious junk art pitched up alongside ethereal photography and technicolour paintings. The world focus enhanced this even further, the Art Fair organisers have long since branched away from British and European art and put whole continents in conversation, providing a pretty comprehensive overview of today’s art world for novices and the knowledgeable alike. 

Alison Lambert’s intense, large-scale charcoal artworks convey movement and detail like an old master. The way the reflections of the Business Design Centre interplay with the frame adds an extra layer.

Alison Lambert’s intense, large-scale charcoal artworks convey movement and detail like an old master. The way the reflections of the Business Design Centre interplay with the frame adds an extra layer.

When I wanted to escape the crowds, I was struck by the only downside of the show. There was a distinct lack of places to dwell. With so many great pieces jostling for attention, and hoards passing through the stands, the couple of unassuming cafes tucked away from the hustle and bustle just didn’t cut it. They were few in number and didn’t match up to the grandeur of the surrounding exhibitions. This got me thinking about what I really love about the gallery experience: the opportunity for reflection. There were paintings and prints of every persuasion and at times I really just wanted to hone in on the beauty, meaning and skill of the works. Unfortunately, with the competition for space between displays, visitors, organisers (and camera phones!), I didn’t have much chance to linger. 

Despite this, the buzz of the atmosphere had its own charms and I left energized and armed with a list of galleries and artists to go back to throughout the year when I really have the chance to get acquainted with them.

It’s an unmissable event in the cultural calendar and I’m already looking forward to next year! 

Louis Quail’s totally candid photography of family dynamics echoes his documentary background, bringing viewers into the action of his Big Brother series.    (Image courtesy of louisquail.com)

Louis Quail’s totally candid photography of family dynamics echoes his documentary background, bringing viewers into the action of his Big Brother series.

(Image courtesy of louisquail.com)



















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