Flocks of colourful birds perch on the outside and inside the entrance foyer, less sinister than in Alfred Hitchcock’s famous film, but still in sufficient in numbers to threaten an invasion. Inside, elephants are roaming through cities, while the forest, once cut down for new buildings, is growing back through the crumbling concrete ruins of the very building which replaced it.
At the Affordable Art Fair in Battersea, with art on sale from £100 to £6,000, artists from all around the world and galleries from the UK, Europe and as far away as Australia, Canada and Hong Kong have provided a fresh and international flavour, with many artists showing in London for the first time. With the collapse in the value of the pound, the cost of attending art fairs in London has become more affordable for overseas galleries, given the UK galleries some additional competition.
The best works are where two worlds collide, like Patrick Murphy’s pigeon invasion “Together” in the entrance, Jonathan Hillson’s video mixed-sex k”I am Human” on entry to the main hall and Zac Greening’s twisting naturalistic “Neuron” hanging above the centre of the bar made, not from glass, but from plastic bottles.
Lars Tunebo’s blue elephant crosses a high wire over a railway line in “As a Canary”, while Maryline Lemaitre’s elephant walks through the classical streets of Rome, Suzanne Moxhay’s miniature forest grows up within the decaying ruins in “Arboretum” and Denitza’s view of the city rooftops is seen through a natural window on the city in “Ordinary Day”.
Some works have double meanings. Adele Moreau’s delicate cut-outs of books translate words into pictures as they reinforce the titles that they are cut from, Noelle Hamlyn’s “I Could A Tale Unfold – “Hamlet”” has hand-spun pages springing out of Shakespeare’s text and Thirsty BSTRD’s “Break glass in case of Bankruptcy” is a play on the name, reputation and value of Banksy’s work.
Cultures clash together. Angelo Acardi has Bart and Homer Simpson “misplaced” in an commercial art gallery, a mostly unlikely setting for the pair, while Jacky Tsai’s pop-art superheroes fighting across her landscapes are from both western and asian cultures and Harry Bunce’s bunnies are anything but cuddly – they are positively sinister as they take on human gangster attributes.
As already seen, art comes in a variety of media. The branches of Natasja van der Meer’s “Apple Tree” are made of wooden beads which hang down rather than grow up and which sway, not in the wind, but when visitors walk nearby and the floor of the exhibition area rises and falls and, in addition, there are even some witty ceramics of Scotsmen in kilts from the Edinburgh artist Craig Mitchell.
The Affordable Art Fair has more innovative work on show than the London Art Fair earlier in the year, perhaps reflecting that artists (many of whom are at the start of their careers) and galleries at lower values feel able to take greater risks and be more adventurous? It’s a shame if this disappears as artists become more established.