Okay, I confess – I’ve never been to the London Art Fair (billed as the UK’s premier modern British and contemporary art fair) before, even though I’ve had lots of chances. Among all the art on offer in London, this one somehow slipped through the net. Well, more fool me, as I discovered when Yannick and I went there this week – it’s absolutely packed with top-class art, and it’s all for sale, should you happen to have a budget big enough. Yannick and I confined ourselves to just looking. And taking pictures, of course.
The Fair takes place at the Business Design Centre in Islington, tucked away just behind the Screen on the Green. It first opened in 1862 as the Royal Agricultural Hall and it’s Grade II listed.
It’s a lovely building, a bit like a mini Crystal Palace, light and airy with a curved glass roof. The Galleries are packed in on three levels without any sense of overcrowding.
One advantage of blogging about Japanese art is that it gave me a chance to cut this overwhelming feast of great pictures down to size. I brought my own little list with me of galleries showing Japanese artists and we navigated our way around the 128 participating galleries by its guidance, a bit like getting a map of Hampton Court Maze before you go in.
First stop was the Beardsmore Gallery. They’re based in Kentish Town and I’ve covered their exhibitions by Yuji Oki and Rebecca Salter, a British artist with strong connections to Japan, before. They also gave us complimentary tickets to the show, so the least we could do was stop by and say thanks. They’re over the moon at the moment as Rebecca has just been made a Royal Academician. Here are two of her works, both mixed media on paper priced at £4,500 each.
And Yuji Oki’s Athos’s Sea at £4,000.
Also on the ground floor, 108 Gallery was showing Yukako Sakakura.
We got a little bit distracted from Japanese art along the way by this lovely Ivon Hitchens, titled Long Boat (price not given).
And this irresistible ceramic glaze crochet-covered frog by Joana Vasconcelos Azalée. Sadly, though we searched our pockets, we couldn’t come up with the £12,000 needed to buy it.
Then it was up to the next level for these jokey small portraits by Yasuhiro Onishi, priced at £490 each.
And this charming though sentimental picture by Sumiko Seki, Pekin Nightingale and Pink Winter Cherry, priced at £800.
21st Editions were showing books illustrated by photographer Masao Yamamoto.
And a popular display of film posters included this Japanese poster for Sabrina at £3,250.
Another distraction – some amazing illusory perspective art by surrealist Patrick Hughes. Sadly, it’s not possible toy reproduce the effect here, but as you walk past the picture it genuinely seems to move thanks to the way parts of it protrude from the flat surface (as you can just see on the right hand side of my photo). A snip at £96,000.
We ended on a high note with this gold and silver leaf acrylic on canvas by Takefumi Hori at Fiumano Projects.£4,600.
The London Art Fair is on for five days, ending today at 5pm, so you still have time to nip down and take a look. Tickets are £18.50.