Wednesday, 22 January 2020


The London Art Fair's 2020 tag line is 'Exceptional Modern and Contemporary Art'. It is, of course, the usual mixed bag with more exceptionally bad than exceptionally good. Still, here are some interesting things to look out for:

Marlene Steyn: 'Honey my Moon' 2019. The man, Lychee One's Lian told me, is Steyn's husband, so I trust that is the artist with him, giving herself blue skin and impressively hairy legs. Their honeymoon proves an extraterrestrial love fest at the Lychee / Union stand - the first booth on entry to and as good as any...


Alfredo Chamal: 'Untitled' 2019: the Mexican's exacting ballpoint pen drawing at Spanish gallery Victor Lope seems to show his model wearing a sculpture...


… so I wasn't so surprised to come across Yuki and her assistant at White Conduit Projects wearing Dunhill & O'Brien's shoulder sculptures (above: either side of an equally covetable Rosa Nguyen 'Lost Flowers - In Praise of Kiku Landscape' 2019), A tidy solution for prolific collectors wondering where to put their art.


Nicolas Feldmeyer:  'Estate 2', 2018 is from a new series of - you might think - atmospheric photographs at Encounter Contemporary with a touch of Hammershoi about them. Perhaps they're suspiciously perfect: in fact, they are digital constructions which render fantasy satisfyingly quotidian.


Thomas Harker: 'Tattooed Legs', 2020 at Bo.Lee Gallery. These unorthodox tattoos of crudely-rendered fish and the like make one wonder what is on the limbs and what only on the canvas, the more so when you notice how one tattoo migrates across the pair's legs. There again, the idea of his 'n' hers markings so linked is rather romantic, perhaps it's already a thing.


The most consistent quality at the London Art Fair tends to be in C20 British works. Euan Uglow's 'Night Scene' 1995-96 at Piano Nobile is an example: a late small work by the painter  (1932-2000) known for the  rigorous measurement through which he achieved sculpturally-realised figures. Here I love the knot of actual and potential hand positions...


Mary Martin: 'Perspex Group on Orange' 1967 at Jenna Burlingham Fine Art is the most chromatically intense Mary Martin that I can recall seeing - and maybe the most successful intensity at the fair. The constructivist theme was picked up rather nicely by both the Eagle Gallery (six artists responding to a range of Natalie Dower's works) and Berlin's DAM (a small history of computer-programme generated abstraction).


John Robinson: 'Malevich' 2019 is from a series of performative self-portraits at Division of Labour which interact entertainingly with art history. Fontana might make even more sense in the Malevich manner of pushing through the modern...


Sirpa Pajunen-Moghissi: 'Vita 6', 2019 at C&C Gallery. I did suggest that the Finn reduce her tricky name to Sirpa Mog, but the complexity in her work - so many layers of acrylic, photography, drawing, gold leaf and resin I lost count - is all to the good, investing the nature she finds in her homeland's forests with an intricately realised sense of wonderment. I particularly liked the way this moth flickers between its own patterning and Sirpa's.


Henry Hussey: 'Untitled (Black Hermaphrodite II)'  and 'Untitled (Female Torso II)' 2019 at Anima Mundi is an elemental pairing pushing the artist's male and female aspects to the limit. They're made with his own signature technique: glass blown around black pigment is smashed then immediately recombined at furnace heat, making this a whole yet fractured pairing on charred wood plinths - see, for example, the kink in one of the three horns of the crown.


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About Me

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Southampton, Hampshire, United Kingdom
I was in my leisure time Editor at Large of Art World magazine (which ran 2007-09) and now write freelance for such as Art Monthly, Frieze, Photomonitor, Elephant and Border Crossings. I have curated 20 shows during 2013-17 with more on the way. Going back a bit my main writing background is poetry. My day job is public sector financial management.