Just when you thought the international art fair circuit couldn’t get any more overcrowded, now another newcomer arrives on the scene. Billed as ‘presenting a truly global perspective and presenting art from 1945 to the present day’, ART13 – held at Olympia in West London – showcases nearly 130 galleries from 30 different countries across Asia, Africa and the Middle East as well as Europe and the Americas.
With over 70% of participating galleries exhibiting at an art fair in London for the very first time, and with half of them representing non-Western artists, it is certainly an ambitious outing. But what sets the fair apart from the rest?
For starters, the impressive track record of its founders. Tim Etchells and Sandy Angus are the pair who established ART HK, the Hong Kong International Art Fair in 2008, which has grown at an exponential rate to become a major fixture of the international art world.
As for the exhibitors list, there is a clear strategy at play. It is largely made up of mid-market galleries under-represented by the establishment, such as Eleven (London), Kálmán Makláry Fine Arts (Budapest) and XVA Gallery (Dubai) where works usually go for cheaper prices leaving the likes of blue chip dealers such as Gagosian and David Zwirmer noticeable only by their absence. And, unlike the behemoth that is frieze, ART13 admits medium-specific galleries with photography experts Michael Hoppen Gallery, Brancolini Grimaldi and Galerie Paris-Beijing all welcomed into the fray.
“Art13 London will be a place for discovery,” says the fair’s Director Stephanie Dieckvoss. “Visitors will have the rare opportunity to encounter large-scale sculpture and installation works from across the globe. It’s great that the projects encompass so many different regions, particularly since a number of them have been crafted specifically for the fair.”
One such piece included as part of the ART13 Projects is a 12-metre-wide installation made of 8,000 sheets of rice paper entitled Boat, by Chinese artist Zhu Jinshi, that apparently took 50 days and 14 workers to construct. Of the piece the artist says: “While time only moves forward, the Boat can sail in any direction. The Boat’s cultural resonance is constructed of time itself, continuously ebbing and flowing through our imagination.”
Meanwhile, the Young Galleries section of the fair, which features galleries up to 6 years old, is also undoubtedly another highlight. Among them, is International 3, whose deftly curated booth gives a very focussed presentation of new work from gallery artist Rachel Goodyear and recent Manchester Metropolitan University graduate Rafal Topolewski – a young artist who is making waves having recently been included in Saatchi Sensations, the Caitlin Guide 2013 and Testing Ground for Art and Education season at the Zabludowicz Collection.
“We tend to approach our booth as we would our gallery shows,” explains Co-director Paulette Terry Brien. “We specifically chose pieces we know that will work together, practices that are sympathetic to each other. Our rationale for selection also springs from a desire to work with recent graduates. We like to support their careers and be part of their early story.”
Also nestled in this section is Ceri Hand Gallery who recently relocated to London. “The fair was attractive for us because it’s more international, more diverse than others,” says Director Ceri Hand. “The sheer fact of having a presence is important so signposting is a key thing for us. But there were also opportunities linked to what we do.”
She is of course referring to the strand of the fair specially dedicated to contemporary performance (ART13 Performances), a site-specific backdrop designed by one of her artists Bedywr Williams that involves Juneau Projects, also from her stable. The presentations range from a live drawing following the movement of ballet dancers through to a dysfunctional pop group playing home-made instruments. Dieckvoss commented “The addition of a booth dedicated to performance art addresses the recent revival of the medium, in line with the proliferation of performance in museums and institutions.”
Elsewhere, the London First section, for which the curator and critic Lisa Le Feuvre has acted as an advisor, brings together a roster of up-and-coming galleries again under 6 years old, including Chan Hampe Galleries and Yeo Workshop of Singapore. The latter is showing works from Jarek Piotrowski. “It’s great that London now has such an international fair which is in fact very reflective of our way of working. They really get our philosophy. It’s a global fair for a global village,” says Audrey Yeo, the gallery’s Director.
Whether or not ART13 will form an essential part of the art calendar remains to be seen. All eyes will be on the second edition.
For more information on the fair and its talks programme visit artfairslondon.com