New Zealand to Canada; China to South Africa; Columbia to the United Kingdom; South Africa to Russia: 120 selected artists from 40 countries across the globe came together at Old Chelsea Town Hall for this year’s London Art Biennale masterminded by Roberto Gagliardi and the Gagliardi Gallery.
The celebration of art, flowers and gardens which has enlivened Chelsea over the last couple of weeks in the spring sunshine, started with the Draw Art Fair at the Saatchi Gallery and ended with the London Art Biennale at Old Chelsea Town Hall. Even Holy Trinity Sloane Square joined in, with a popular open-air café outside and an art exhibition inside.
The 2019 Biennale, with artists from around the world including New Zealand, Russia, Bulgaria, Australia, China, Columbia, Mexico, Singapore, Tukey, the United States of America, Romania, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Italy and of course the United Kingdom displayed an imaginative variety of sculpture, paintings, ceramics, installations and photography within the late Victorian and Edwardian architecture of the Old Chelsea Town Hall, completed in 1908 by the architect Leonard Stokes, and incorporating the old Vestry Hall of 1886 designed by J M Brydon. Inside, it is difficult to see where the two buildings change, so well did Stoke’s extension at the front integrate the old Vestry Hall at the rear, the main neoclassical space at the heart of the Fair, around which any space or corridor that could be pressed into service was awash with the best of contemporary art, many linking back to their own cultures, but with some fascinating contrasts and contradictions such as the Bela Gupta’s ‘Royal Visit’ in India placed in front of the original 19th century paintings in the old Vestry Hall celebrating the history of Britain and its Empire.
As part of the event, the Biennale organised a major fund-raising initiative for its chosen charities, Age UK and the Rotary Club of Kensington and Chelsea.