Tuesday 22nd January: 6 - 7:30pm Preview Evening
Walking around an exhibition of exhibitions is like navigating some kind of bizarre maze which doesn’t have a prize in the middle. Anyone who has ever been to an event at London’s Business Design Centre will know that it is a very, very big place: a mixture of different levels, spaces and uses already makes it a hybrid kind of venue – but with the addition of around one hundred participating galleries, each curating their own small stand within the space, the microcosmic vibe about the show was certainly a little bit overwhelming. Now in its 27th edition, The London Art Fair typically launches the art world’s year by presenting a selection of Modern British Art from a selection of different galleries – covering the period from the early 20th century to the present day. The event stands as a platform to encourage and support collectors of all levels, and even on the preview evening before the main event’s opening, there were a few neon, circular dots obscuring the prices under each work’s title.
Warmed by the hundreds of temporary spotlights, the tension between loving art and collecting art always seems to hang in the air of these kinds of events. Of course, seasoned art-fair attendees embrace the entire structure of it all, using the show as an opportunity either to develop their own private collections, or (in the case of the gallery curator / event exhibitor) promote the work they so love and support by showing and actually selling some of it. But that other group of attendees can often be found awkwardly wandering the rows of exhibition stands feeling overwhelmed, confused and kind of out of place - despite being surrounded by a lot of very interesting art. It’s the trade show element of the art fair structure which momentarily presents art in a context that not all of us are particularly comfortable with: the art market.
I’m going to make an effort over the next few months to really widen my scope in terms of the art events I attend. I want to learn more about the market that continues to support the creation of new work (regardless of medium), in the hope that one day, I can confidently support new art by purchasing some myself.