|John Piper, Beach and Starfish, 1933/34, copyright artist's estate/DACS 2016|
I was mildly astonished to see so many people coming into the London Art Fair yesterday evening, as Tim Mainstone and I were leaving. Most of the visitors seemed to be fairly young, and I wished I had a clipboard handy so I could pretend to be a market researcher and find out what they had all come to see. I could have taken notes on the show as well. As it is, I can only a remember a few of the things I really liked.
As museum partner, Jerwood Gallery set the tone with a mixture of interesting Modern British paintings and drawings with a coastal theme, offset by Marcus Harvey's startling bronze of Margaret Thatcher as a sort of hideous mermaid. A particular highlight was the John Piper collage, 'Beach and Starfish', which must rank near the top of the chart, Piper-wise. I hadn't really looked at it carefully before, and was struck by the reference to Nazis in the newspaper used for the cliffs, and by the shiny fabric flag.
|Peter Clark, Handle with Care, collage, 2015, artist's copyright, Portland Gallery|
It can be tricky when the old and the new hang side by side, as the former can seem rather drab and the former too shiny, by which I don't mean literally gleaming but untouched by time. If a painting from the 1930s has survived this long and is being exhibited with a five figure price tag then it must have some worth (reasons the art-overloaded visitor), whereas new work is much harder to evaluate. You just have to trust your instinct, I suppose.
|Patrick Hughes, Paolozzi Robotski, oil on board, 2015, artist's copyright, Flowers|
Colour and the smell of oil paint attracted me to the Long and Ryle stand, plus they were busily hanging a large painting. Nothing like a bit of bustle in a gallery to catch the attention. Chatting with the staff I learned that I've walked past the gallery in Pimlico a hundred times without noticing; I liked several of their artists, contemporary painters with a sense of history, an upbeat approach and lots of style.
|Simon Casson, Eegrass, oil on canvas, 2015, artist's copyright, Long & Ryle|
Finally, two very different galleries from Edinburgh made me want to take an art tour north of the border. While The Scottish Gallery had (among other things) a couple of lovely works on paper by JD Fergusson, who I would rate alongside any British artist of the 20th century, Arusha Gallery had possibly my favourite artwork of the night, 'Woman with flowers' by Romina Ressia - a photograph that looked like a painting, of a woman who might have stepped out of a Hammershoi interior.
|Romina Ressia, Woman with flowers, photograph, 2015, artist's copyright, Arusha Gallery|