November 24, 2020

The Affordable Art Fair and the Complete History of Art (Abridged)

Frieze week may have ended but the London art fairs continue. This week the Affordable Art Fair is celebrating its 15th birthday in Battersea Park. Until 26th October hundreds of artworks are available for under £5000. It’s a fair from which people wander home with well wrapped rectangles under their arms.

The fair have worked with art historian Estelle Lovatt and the Reduced Shakespeare Company to create a Complete History of Art (Abridged). 

The foyer has a selection of work by Recent Graduates for collectors who want to be ahead of the game. Curated by Jessica Hall and Emma Mansell it is an overview of what is being produced at British art schools at the moment. Here James Tailor‘s Harrods green shop awning investigates the power of paint. Literally – the paint has no supporting fabric and relies on its internal strength as it nestles on the border between painting and sculpture. Hayun Choi’s fragile textile portraits are also worth seeking out.

Inside the fair the roof is dark, lit with hundreds of purple LEDs (or stars, depending upon your romantic outlook). The hangs are mainly designed to show as much work as possible, and much of the art is decorative. Buyers walk round with tape measures. With so many works on offer there is a spread of quality – if you intend to purchase it may be wise to consult an art advisor. More sewn pieces, some drawings in thread by Emma Cowlam are available at (J7) Modern Art Buyer.

Jamm (F6) has a well hung, salon-style wall which includes some David Cass matchbox paintings.  Artists in Residence (A3) have a mezzotint named Yves Klein’s Cat by Mychael Barrett which raises a smile and is part of a series of artists and their pets.

Amongst the commercial galleries is Art Republik, which has existed for ten years, devoting 100% of its profits to the support, finance and promotion of education and the arts in China. They do not rely on donations but raise money by selling Chinese artworks, the proceeds from which they use to empower children.

This year, the Affordable Art Fair has partnered with the Campaign for Drawing which raises awareness and funds for parents, teachers and the creative industries by promoting visual literacy year-round. The Campaign’s Big Draw event opens doors and provides free, accessible activities for people of all ages to engage with collections in museums and galleries.

Other works that catch the eye include some repetitive Chris Frazer Smith photos at (D11) Crane Kalman, Gerard Bru’s vibrant colours at James Kinmont (L12) and Coin Moore’s pale landscape lino cuts at (E4) Halfmoon Studio.

Having found in a survey that 22% of Brits have never stepped into an art gallery, The Affordable Art Fair aims to democratise the art world. As well as works for sale it also has printmaking workshops, a live painting demonstration and on Sunday at 4pm Estelle Lovatt will lead a short tour of key artworks relating to art history.

There are swings in quality and some of the work feels like interior design accessories, but overall the Affordable Art Fair is a non-threatening introduction to fine art.

23-26 October 2014

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