Art15 “London’s Global Art Fair” returned to London with 500 artists from 40 countries around the globe. UK galleries are purposely kept constrained in number so that the Fair can introduce art from countries such as China, Bahrain, Taiwan, Lebanon, Jordan and South Korea, not often seen in London, in addition to European and US galleries. Established galleries from around the world show modern and contemporary work in a wide variety of media alongside new and emerging artists and galleries.
The Fair is held at Olympia in the ground floor and balcony of the National Hall Gallery and extends into the Central Gallery, which is quite a stretch, so it has created two special zones to help provide focus. At the heart of the National Gallery is “Emerge” which shows work of emerging markets, galleries and artists, curated by Jonathan Watkins, Director of Ikon Gallery in Birmingham, while in the Central Gallery a similar zone called “London First” shows galleries making their first trip to London, selected by Aaron Cezar, Director of Delfina Foundation, London.
As with past years, Art Projects provides sculptures and installations as signposts to follow throughout the Fair; sometimes taking centre stage; sometimes merging into adjacent exhibition stands. This year’s Art Projects includes 19 works from artists across the world such as Wang Keping (China), Kestutis Svirnelis (Lithuania), Subodh Gupta (India), Rado Kirov (Bulgaria), Sokari Douglas-Camp (Nigeria) and Annie Morris (UK) all of whom have created work especially for Art15.
The most interesting works are those in which artists celebrate, question or reflect on their own cultures, with examples from Nigeria, India, China and Hong Kong, the Middle East, Japan and elsewhere, such as those by Sokai Douglas-Camp and Subodh Gupta in Art Projects. Elsewhere, Virgil Scripcariu, the Romanian sculptor presents a multi-media installation which illustrates his view on “time, matter, human relationships, and the artistic profession” including portraits linking to the heritage of his village Piscu near Bucharest and the Qatari artist Fatma Al Shebani displays “Batoula”, a large stainless steel sculpture with mosaic that she created to revisit the memories of her childhood when she would see the beautiful but hidden faces that had many loving stories to tell: “I tell young women to break all the boundaries that trap you. Adore life, wind, desert and the sea. Love yourself more and more and more and more. Keep your dreams.” (Fatma Al Shebani)
As to be expected, with such a wide range of artists and media, there are several works that illustrate the use of new technology, such as the Italian Vincenzo Marsiglia with his colourful animated wall-sculpture “Star Interactive”, the French artist Remi Brun who incorporates LEDs into his steel sculpture and the Czechoslovakian artist Michael Macku who has created a chemical technique called “Gellage” which enables him to encase the shadow of a photographic image in glass to create beautiful enigmatic image.
There is also a separate strand entitled Freedom Audit, curated by Kathleen Soriano, former Director of Exhibitions at the Royal Academy of Arts, which focuses on freedom of expression around the world and how artists negotiate and reflect on this in their own cultures.
An extensive survey of modern and contemporary art from galleries and artists around the world – it almost makes you want to start travelling and visiting the galleries themselves.