Hanging overhead like a globe in Olympia’s National Hall is Chun Kwang Young’s sculpture “Aggregation” (2006) made from Korean mulberry paper. If this show is anyone’s, it is Chun Kwang Young’s as his characteristic works in the same series are found in several galleries on display. Another of the projects is Dominic Harris “Ice Angel” (2015) an interactive experience in light and sound. Together these two projects introduce several of the themes that can be seen across Art16 at Olympia.
The major strength of Art16 is its international representation with 150 galleries from all across the globe, including a strong representation from SE Asia. Sadly, in the year where Cuba is opening up, there is less art from Cuba than in previous years, though Maddox Arts is showing several Latin American artists including Carlos Cruz-Diez.
The second and growing theme is the interplay between technology and art, including Rimas Sakalauskas’s SESSION (Socrates & Homer) video installation (2015), Nei Alberti’s geometric TDL series with changing coloured LED lights (2015), Tamara Kvesitadze’s kinetic lovers who come together in close intimacy and then separate afterwards, Alain Le Boucher’s electronic sculpture and Fabrizio Corneli’s classical images like Apollo Belvedere (2015) created from shadows, with a touch of fun added by Akibo Lee’s mischievous robots (Tika) who look as if they are ready to run off all over Olympia, terrorising visitors as they go.
A third theme might be a focus on sculpture and works created from non-traditional materials such as Chun Kwang Young’s use of Korean Mulberyy paper, Alfredo & Isabel Aquilizan’s “Last Flight” (2009) made from used slippers, Ilhwa Kim’s “Seed Universe” series (2015) made from hand dried hanji and Suh Jeong-Min “Lines of Travel ” (2015 and 2016) made from Korean paper and hanji. Sonia Payes from Australia has created beautiful flowing sculptures as an elegant version of the four-faced buddha and Zheng Lu’s steel sculpture “Water in Dripping – Lie” (2015) looks like water that has been frozen and trapped in time.
At the centre of the first floor, Philip Colbert’s “Fried Egg World” creaties a pop-fantasy café themed around the humble egg which is a symbol of life, of easter and of rebirth, is a basic cooking ingredient and a key component of the classic British breakfast.
Supplementing the main gallery areas are the themed areas of “Emerge” curated by Jonathan Watkins to present the next generation of emerging talent from galleries less than six 6 years old, “London First” featuring international galleries under ten years old that have never exhibited before at an art fair in London and “Not for Profit” showing the latest initiatives from several non-commercial galleries including the historic Wallace Collection with its contemporary project for later in the year: “In the Middle” with Tom Ellis.
In addition to the two projects mentioned above, there are another eight projects from galleries all over the world, though they seemed not to be as exciting as in previous years.
A minor quibble, but attention to detail is important in a competitive arts world – the programme had a fold out insert at the back showing the floor plan, except it was fully stapled in and had to be cut open (to be fair – a replacement copy was fine) – a small detail that needs attention to ensure a successful Art17.