A Review of the Art16 Contemporary Art Fair at Kensington Olympia, London
Art16 brings together an exciting roster of over one hundred contemporary art galleries from thirty countries all over the world, creating a highly immersive cultural experience for its visitors. Directed by Nathan Clements-Gillespie, the programme caters to both established and emerging galleries, providing a useful platform to exhibit artistic talent from a cross-section of diverse art scenes. Hosted at Kensington Olympia, London this year's layout has been designed by the architectural practice Stiff + Trevillion. Unlike some art fairs, Art16 provides a welcoming atmosphere whether you are an established art collector or an innocent art lover.
Thanks to the well thought out curation of Jonathan Watkins (Director of Ikon Gallery) this year introduces two new sections to the fair's exhibition programme. The first, Emerge, involves a selection of galleries less than six years old, presenting both dual and solo artists. Whilst London First provides a platform for London galleries and programmes showing at the fair for the first time. Here you can find the arts educational charity for children, House of Fairy Tales, which was founded by the artist Gavin Turk and his partner Deborah Curtis. This year they have provided a multi-layered presentation of forty-six artists whom they have worked with. We also find The Dot Project, a gallery situated on the Fulham road. Zane Lewis’s vibrant spray paint canvases occupy the booth. Included in Wall Street Journal's article that highlights America’s top ten emerging artists and deemed a 'groundbreaker' by the Whitney Museum, his ethereal works and the controlled technique reference both pointillism and phenomenology. The beautifully diverse patterns he forms with his spray gun have gained notoriety, with Artnet.com recently reporting their success at selling 40% of his works on the first night.
Similar to Lewis’s wonderfully vibrant and abstract works are the canvases of Katrin Fridriks, represented by the Berlin gallery Circle Culture. Fridrik’s has spent over a decade experimenting with the constitutive elements of painting as well as a range of unconventional techniques in order to obtain a distinct and original style. Using her body as the paintbrush, the artist creates fluid and organic works that ultimately become performance pieces. This technique can be seen in her circular piece Waving & Winning the World (acrylic on canvas, 2016), where an explosion of opulent, intertwined colour entices the viewer to explore the artist's physical movements.
Unlike the abstract works of Lewis and Fridriks, the Edinburgh-based Arusha gallery offers up the figurative work of Ilona Szalay. On show we see a selection of her oil-on-paper canvases which explore notions of vulnerability, beauty, dominance and submission as well as violence and control. In works such as Room (2016), one is instantaneously drawn to the universal image of love and its strong bond. Two figures occupy the centre of the canvas, spread across a chaise long, inextricably linked to one another. While in Second Game (2016) we see a far more sinister interpretation of the power dynamics of relationships. A woman sits awkwardly on a chair while an ambiguous figure looms behind her holding their hand over her mouth. Szalay’s distinctive style of bold yet delicate figures and pink backgrounds link these two works and ultimately provide an examination into the human psyche and the extremes it can possess when it comes to the dynamics of a relationship.
On a lighter note, there's no better way to end a visit to Art16 than taking a trip to the VIP lounge, where you can enjoy a stiff drink whilst appreciating the playful pop art of London-based artist and designer Philip Colbert. His iconic fried eggs act as the wallpaper framing a series of lobster sculptures, canvases and of course the infamous shark chairs. From Dale Frank’s grotesque yet intriguing sculpturally-inspired If You are an Artist you Should Never Think of What You Should Do 2015 to the Instagram sensation Ren Hang's portraiture exploring nature and nudity, the Art16 contemporary art fair offers an insight into the most interesting emerging and established artists of the global art scene. Don't miss out in 2017.
Art16 was open at Kensington Olympia, London from 19-22nd May 2016 - http://www.artfairslondon.com.
Written by Lara Monro, Contributor to Arteviste.com