A week of art in London

Posted on October 28, 2013 by Toothpicker There have been 0 comments

What does the word "art" mean today? What I learned about art when I was a student seemed like a world apart from what I am seeing now in the art world. Yes, art is constantly evolving, but the function and meaning of art has also changed significantly especially in the past two decades. I am not going to define art here, but as we have seen in recent years that art has become almost like a money-spinning tool, there are more artists than ever ( qualified or not) as well as collectors or investors. When I did A-level art at school, my art mates and I were called "dossers" by those who studied more academic subjects. No one took us seriously, and I remember adults used to say that becoming artists would mean staying poor all our lives! How things have changed in such a short time ( though I am aware that not all artists are as rich as Damien Hirst), but I am sure these adults did not expect even graffiti ( or street) artists like Banksy can become millionaires!


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Top left: Love by Gimhongsok; Top right: Geometric mirrors by Jeppe Hein; Main: The landscape is moving by Marilá Dardot; Bottom left: Three indeterminate lines by Bernar Venet; Bottom right: Listening bench #4 by Amar Kanwar


I have never been a huge fan of contemporary art ( esp. from 1990 onwards), and I am often more inspired by design, craft, architecture, photography, film or even street art. Personally, I find art fairs too commercial and I don't enjoy viewing art in that environment or in that manner, and I certainly don't want to pay such high price for it either! When I looked at the long list of art fairs taking place all over London within the same week, it made me wonder how many artists there are working today, there must be a lot! I decided to skip the talk of the town art fair Frieze and opted for the alternative ones out of curiosity...


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Top left: Rearrangeable rainbow blocks by Judy Chicago; top right: Grass painted green by Richard Woods; Bottom left: Piss flowers by Helen Chadwick; Bottom middle: Chloe by Jaume Plensa; Bottom right: A tree that looks like a sculpture ( is this art?)


On one afternoon, a friend and I went to the Frieze sculpture park ( curated by Clare Lilley, who is also the head curator of Yorkshire sculpture park) in Regents park and we both liked the mirrors placed in the middle of the park including "Geometric mirrors" by Jeppe Hein and "The landscape is moving" by Marilá Dardot, and the fascinating "Listening bench #4" by Amar Kanwar. It is a shame that the sculpture park only exists for a few days each year, I am beginning to think that London needs to have a permanent sculpture park!


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Main: Sunday art fair; Bottom left: "Dancers Around an Effigy to Modernism" by Avery Singer; Tangram by Alek O.


At the nearby "conceptual" and free Sunday art fair, we were less inspired by the work we saw. There were some interesting pieces, but overall, the standard varied and we felt rather disappointed by the show. Hence, this prepared me mentally for The Other art fair & Monika art fair ( joint at Truman Brewery) that I was going to attend with an artist friend two days later!

Yet unexpectedly, both my friend and I were quite pleasantly surprised by the overall standard and variety of work on display. The show felt less commercial than other art fairs, and it was certainly more interesting to talk to the artists themselves than gallery representatives.


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Top left: Clearing gallery; Top middle: George Henry Longly; Top right: Souled Out Studio setting at Monika art fair; Bottom left: Ego Leonard


Here are some of my favourites from the show:

Gina Soden's photography really stood out. The photographer travels to undisclosed sites throughout Europe and explores beauty, decay, nostalgia and neglect through her architectural images. The detailed and muted coloured photos look almost like paintings, and it was especially intriguing to learn more about her photographic techniques and adventures at these sites.

Ego Leonard is is a Dutch guerrilla artist, who is known for his use of Lego figures in his work. The subject matter in his paintings is dark and thought-provoking, a huge contrast to the vibrant, playful and 'happy' style of the paintings. The artist is also known for placing giant Lego man with the slogan "No real than you are" across its torso on beaches around the world. Very clever and cool.

Alberto Fusco's detailed paper craft artwork is quite stunning and certainly very time-consuming. I like the geometric shaped arrangements and saw a link between his work and the thread work by Julio Campos nearby. The artist's Concave & Convex series explores the concepts of time, movement and space through his delicate and beautifully handmade thread work. And I find the work quite mesmerising.

After spending almost three hours at the show, I felt that my brain could probably no longer absorb anymore, but I was glad that I went to the fairs for a change and would even consider paying another visit next year.


This post was posted in London, Art, Gardens & parks, Art fair, British art, Sculptures and was tagged with London, British art, art fairs, The other art fair, moniker art fair, Frieze sculpture park