December 9, 2019

Our highlights of the Affordable Art Fair Battersea

This weekend a smart marquee in Battersea Park is host to over 100 galleries presenting contemporary art at affordable prices.  Sculpture, painting, photography and much more can be snatched up and whisked away for prices from £100 to £5,000. 

Organised and well laid out, for art lovers the Affordable Art Fair is like being a kid in a candy shop.  But let me cut to the chase and stop the clichés.  You’ll find commercial art and works by up and coming recent graduates which offers its own pleasures and rewards, but tucked amongst these are artists who have found themselves; they capture something, push the boundaries and explore the world both internally and externally and make you think while retaining their sense of self.  One such artist is Chinese born Eric Guo.  He has no interest in being famous and his birth into poverty begins his intriguing life. 

Art Connection, a gallery in Amsterdam, presents large evocative photographs layered with emotional intensity.  The collection Untouchables features a female and (literally) her double who have a longing for life and light.  They have a quality of a Vermeer domestic interior – which Guo was unaware of during his process.  The composition and silent, intense interplay between the characters, the use of a soft filter and matt quality paper combine to produce a soft, ghostly atmosphere.  The paper also allows him to create a painterly effect.  Guo fills Untouchables with layered symbols: the window is veiled by a net curtain enhancing the longing for the outside; there are rolls of film and paint tubes alerting us to art, the artist, the medium and the period of this piece – bringing us back into our own time, reminding us that this is a contemporary piece. 

Eric Guo Facing each other II

Facing each other is a collection of individual black and white head-shots of female characters.  Each piece is divided by lines.  The strongest is a bisecting line either horizontally or vertically cutting the picture and woman in half.  One half is darker than the other providing a ‘divide between the material and spiritual world, between hope and fear, between dream and reality’ Art Collection.  It also acts like a veil, a reflection or even a mirror for introspection.  More subtle lines, like creases of a folded photo are present enhancing the mystery of these women and providing a personal feel – are they a loved one like someone’s child.  Guo is playing with reality and the imaginary.

Guo has overlooked nothing.  I could write forever on one piece of his art.  Not a single thing is passed by or accidentally included, from the contrast between the softness of the girl’s face to the harsh fabric of her military style shirt.  His works are a social and political commentary and you can find other pieces discussing the one child policy in China.  His photography and mind is outstanding.  For more information visit

On a lighter note, Swedish painter and graphic artist Tommy TC Carlsson exhibits hyper-realistic oils on canvas at the Galleri Final (a Swedish gallery) stand.  In true trompe l’oeil his balloon paintings really mess with your head!  He depicts a brightly coloured balloon against a steel background.  Each balloon is under tension by a piece of string, causing it to bulge.    He examines the interplay and contrast between materials.  This contrast creates tension, fragility, strength, and questions perception and reality.

Tommy TC Carlsson Baloon

Carlsson’s effect is so realistic your eye really needs to work with your brain to notice the shadows, the transparency, the reflections and the dents in the steel.  Carlsson said he likes taking unusual objects and using them in his still life work.

One popular artist, with lots of dots next to his work, was Ed Hodgkinson at the London based Mark Jason Gallery stand.  He exhibits four large portrait prints of sketches of women backed in vibrant pop-art style colours.  These high gloss prints are available in a variety of colours and with a choice of female images.  Each image has a relaxed almost voyeuristic feel.  You get the sense that the woman is comfortable in her environment.  The sketches are not specifically erotic but do have a sensual feel about them.

Gallery One exhibited a new talent Gregori Saavedra.  From Barcelona Saavedra illustrations have been published in various media including Dazed and Confusedand Time Magazine.  Currently living and working in London he uses his environment as inspiration.  Black and white with a touch of red seem to be his preferred palate.  His screen prints depict inspirational words and phrases and a gas mask attached to a Chanel No5 bottle shows his reflections and comments on society.  His work can also be seen on a mural at Kings cross station.

Claire Luxton False Idols

Gathering some of the talented recent graduates is Contemporary Collective. They are a division of Degree Art and choose 20 of their 400 artists who show exciting prospects by proven success with scholarships or sales.  Goldsmiths graduate, Claire Luxton exhibits False Idols in her preferred medium, steel.  6 steel sheets inserted into concrete are neatly lined up in 2 rows of 3.  She is interested in the political and social history of steel as well as its quality as a material.

Some of the other galleries and artists which stood out were Janie Kidson at Bearspace who is a recent Camberwell graduate interested in creating miniature landscapes in paper in a palate of neon and stone.  She then photographs and enlarges them to capture every crease and crevice.  Her work is intriguing and enigmatic.

Photographer Ernesto Fernandez Zalacain at Capital Culture Gallery who examines the experience of modern day Cuba and emigration.  He displays his photos in rusty pipes which take on the look of periscopes.

At the Affordable Art Fair you will also find their Charity Beneficiary – Cooltan arts who are a stigma busting arts in mental health charity.  They provide a safe and supportive space where people can come to create.  Their work includes: bags, paintings, sculptures and more.  All the work is for sale and there is a tombola with an opportunity to win some work too.  A friendly and welcoming stall which id definitely worth a visit.

There is a dedicated Education Space providing workshops and talks which are announced over a tannoy in the marquee.  You can also find lots of activities as well as talks and tours.  For your comfort there is a bar and café and a crèche as well as well serviced toilets – much needed with Laithwaite’s Wine being one of their sponsors.  Tickets start from £8 and children under 16 are free.  There is a free shuttle bus from Slone Square and for more details and ticket info

The art fair is open until 6pm Sunday 15th March 2015, so take the opportunity to bag a bargain and explore what’s new, not just in the London art scene but globally.  You’ll come across a few Girl with a Pearl Earring, Mona Lisa and Marilyn reworks but please don’t forget to visit Eric Guo’s photography at Art Connection, it’s a real treat.

By Helen Shewry

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