- Royal College of Art
There is an extra pleasure to be had of art at art fairs as opposed to some museums or galleries, which is that all the work is available. Whether or not it is even feasible to buy something, it is that very availability which somehow democratises artists. Works sit there all together, and your decision to prefer one over the next is not down to critical judgement or historically proven reputation, it is all about whether you can imagine living with a piece. Do you like it? Does it do it for you?
Impressive names can be sidelined in favour of yet more perfectly good artists you may never have heard of, who you can only hope had a great life with a lot of creative satisfaction, even if they will not make it into the history books. We can still marvel at the skill of ages past in etchings, and recognise the shared thinking of decades in art styles.
Such jumbled impressions are possible in the grand jumble sale which is an art fair. 20|21 is small enough to get around to every stand, and you get to see the buyer’s eye of each gallery, and the aesthetic they favour. As artists and viewers, you can find galleries that correspond to your taste, which is why I’m still astounded that not all have cards and fliers available to take away for reference. Building customers and future gallery artists is a long game, and a gallery name is easily lost in a catalogue.
You always find work that somehow corresponds to your own, don’t you? Rebecca Jewel at Rebecca Hossack Gallery has been making printed artefacts – hers are birds printed onto feathers – real treasures. Garry Pereira’s landscape oils paintings on slate are almost a guilty pleasure. Unpopulated and with an intricate, Victorian feel, they would be wonderful to live with.
And it’s fascinating to see what prices Tracy Emin’s etchings and Gavin Turk’s boots are going for and to speculate whether they will still be as valuable a few decades down the line.