London's art calendar may seem crowded, but since the demise of Zoo, which used to run simultaneously with Frieze, the latter has been London's only substantially-sized, pluralistic, internationally-focused fair. That's actually quite a contrast to the multiple satellites around the main fair is in Basel, New York or Miami.
|Looking up the Grand Hall's roof over Zhu Jinshi's paper boat and a flash of El Anatsui's wall hanging|
Either way, the first edition of Art13 (1-3 March, sponsored by Citibank) had a positive vibe, especially on the opening night when 6,000 attended. Olympia's iron-framed, high-roofed Victorian Grand Hall provided an airy context with attractive natural lighting – indeed, several people suggested to me it was the finest artwork on view. The layout was spacious, with judicious use of 22 mostly sculptural and mostly excellent special projects to punctuate the Gallery Booths. Some spirited performances took place against Bedryr Williams' backdrop: an historic scene which showed a crowd ready to witness a hanging, complete with a woman hawking ghoulish souvenirs. Any coincidence with the art fair business was as cheekily deliberate as the Welshman tends to be.
|Alice Anderson leads her troop of wire-wrappers in front of Bedryr Williams' Tyburn backdrop|
There were talks on international trends, and an impressive London-wide program for collectors. Things ran smoothly, consistent with the organisers having already had a hit with last year’s art
|The booth of Torch (Amsterdam) showing Terry Rodgers|
|View with Roelof Louw's take-an-orange pyramid and Peter Wüthrich's installtion of 99 colourfully-covered books|
It wasn’t difficult to generate examples of interesting work by nine artists who have shown little if at all in London before – plus more familiar imposters from Newcastle via Scotland who I’ve allowed as my pick of the multiples.
Szilárd Cseke: Change of the System, 2013 at the Ani Molnár Gallery (Budapest)
Szilárd Cseke maps the post-socialist situation in
, here by altering the British Job Centre signage to comment on the emigration-driven lifestyle of many of his fellow East Europeans, and by setting up plastic bags to fill, empty and rotate as air is blown in or sucked out of them to represent the ramshackle volatility of the Hungarian political systems. Hungary
Indian artist Ravinder Reddy’s work tends to be described as ‘Pop goes Hindu’ for its melding of the archaic with a modern, wide-eyed directness and sensuality. Here that came in three uplifting permutations of the same four colours in what turned out to be polychrome bronze rather than his more usual fibreglass.
Su Xiaobai: Wagong No. 26, 2011 at Pearl Lam Galleries (Shanghai / Hong Kong)