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London’s best satellite fairs — ‘different conversations and collegiate feel’

London’s best satellite fairs — ‘different conversations and collegiate feel’

October 07
22:08 2017

In an era where smaller galleries are falling like nine-pins, London’s satellite fairs offer a crucial showcase. Now in its eighth edition, the Sunday Art Fair which takes place in a 14,000 square ft subterranean concrete hall in Marylebone, has long championed diminutive dealers. Sadly, some of their one-time regulars — such as Lisa Cooley and Limoncello — have now closed their doors.

This year, only eight of Sunday’s 25 exhibitors are paying return visits. One of those is Michael Ruiz of Berlin’s Future Gallery, whose works includes multimedia collages by French duo Estrid Lutz and Emile Mold. These wall panels started life as lenticular prints layered with images then laid over metal radiators and punctured with holes to create a riveting palimpsest. Ruiz had considered applying to Frieze London this year. “But we thought that here, it is more relaxed and people have more time to discuss. And everyone comes over from Frieze anyway!”

Certainly on preview day Sunday — where the stands unfold like an open-plan installation — enjoyed a chilled, salon-like mood quite different from the frantic current that runs through Frieze London, its Regent’s Park neighbour. “Sunday is a barometer for the future of contemporary art,” says Aaron Cezar, director of London’s Delfina Foundation, which sustains international emerging artists. Cezar also appreciates “the different conversations and collegiate feel. There are certain gallerists who show here who think alike”.

‘Brazilian Island’ (2017) by Camila Oliveira Fairclough

That collective spirit is there in the number of galleries displaying thoughtful, curated shows at Sunday. First-time participant Carbon gallery of Dubai is displaying works by British artist Amba Sayal-Bennett, who is doing a PhD at Goldsmiths. Sayal-Bennett’s high-keyed drawings on graph paper and angular MDF floor sculpture create a crackling encounter between material, geometry and colour.

First-timer Kasia Michalski of Warsaw brings a solo show of compact yet bold text-based and abstract paintings by the Brazilian, Paris-based artist Camila Oliveira Fairclough. Like many here, gallery manager Aleksandra Urbańska had concerns about Brexit on future opportunities in the UK. “It could affect us quite badly with all the customs orders and bureaucracy,” she admits, adding galleries might choose to show at fairs within the European Union because “it will be so much smoother”. Originally, she says, “Kasia’s idea when she started the gallery was that Warsaw could be a bridge between west and east. It’s a shame we are looking at borders again.”

Over at Moniker Art Fair, fortunately, frontiers appear limitless. Now in its eighth year, the urban art fair has tripled in size. It now occupies 30,000 square feet of the Old Truman Brewery on Brick Lane, in east London, compared to 8000 square ft last year, while the number of stands has doubled to 42 this year.

Behind that expansion is the burst of enthusiasm for an art form that has travelled a long way from its origins on flyovers and derelict buildings. This year for the first time, Moniker welcomes Californian dealer Thinkspace. A mandarin of the graphic and urban art scene, they have taken no fewer than eight booths to show artists, including LA-based Audrey Kawasaki whose images of erotic, exquisite female figures surrounded by circus motifs almost sold out hours into the fair.

‘Camouflage’ (2016) by Camila Oliveira Fairclough

Moniker has also launched a new Young Galleries section. Here, Jewel Goodby — whose online-only space has been up and running for just two years — is showing work that includes a mesmerising kimono-clad beauty by Fin DAC, who uses spray paint and acrylic to create irresistible pops of colour. “The online market is getting saturated,” explains Goodby when asked why a pop-up space such as Moniker works well for her. “You need a trusted place where you can come together.”

Even at the Other Art Fair, also in the Truman Brewery, where individual artists run their own booths, collaboration is beginning to flourish. Among the plethora of solo stands, one that stands out is Art Below. This collective of four artists — Robert Lee Davis, Lisa Cirenza, Laura Jordan and Simon Kirk — have come together under the umbrella of the organisation that facilitates exhibitions of art on the London Underground.

Outstanding here is a print by American-born Lisa Cerenza of young New Yorkers on the street sketched on her iPad. With its crumpled Degas-like line and filmy shades, it blends tradition and contemporary practice with authority. Little wonder it sold, for £980 (from an edition of 10), the morning after the opening. Asked why she likes a group environment Cirenza replies: “I love being with other artists. We boost each other’s spirit and meet each other’s buyers. Together is better!”

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