My dear fairgoers. It's been a stellar start for contemporary art... View in browser 

My dear fairgoers,

It's been a stellar start for contemporary art. Major events occured all over the world, but the spotlight was on New York and Seoul. 

The artfairmag correspondents didn't hold back! While Laura Lati covered various New York fairs - The Armory Show, Photofairs and Affordable Art Fair, Alicia Kim stepped in to explore Kiaf and Frieze Seoul. They're sharing their feedback down below. 

As for me, I zeroed in on Paris and London, kicking off the season with Parcours des Mondes, a top-notch tribal art fair, followed by MENART, a fair dedicated to the MENA region's art, and the British Art Fair, at the Saatchi Gallery. I'll share my thoughts on this right after. Lastly, I’ll shine a spotlight on TAAH, an online platform showcasing the work of young African artists. Enjoy the read!

Parcours des Mondes, Paris

After my long (and well-deserved!) vacation, I jumped back into the fair scene with Parcours des Mondes, a tribal art fair created in 2002 that I had never visited before (oooooh)! The concept is straightforward: over five days, the fair gathers tribal art, Asian art, and archaeology dealers from France and beyond. Sounds typical, right? But here's the twist: the fair unfolds in the charming streets of Saint-Germain-des-Prés, with exhibitors showcasing their pieces either in their own galleries or in a fellow dealer's space. I absolutely loved this idea, especially with the sun shining down, making it perfect for sidewalk chats as we hopped from one gallery to the next.

There was a genuine sense of camaraderie among the dealers, and as a visitor, I felt warmly welcomed. Admittedly, my tribal art knowledge is pretty basic, but the exhibitors were so patient, taking the time to guide, explain, and introduce me to their world. It was a truly enriching experience. One piece, in particular, stole my heart and gave me a good chuckle with the dealer's humorous presentation: a friendly yet quirky Iroquois mask from the late 19th to early 20th century, displayed at Galerie Flak (photo and video presentation if you click). If you missed the fair this year, I wholeheartedly recommend you check it out in 2024. Trust me, you'll have a blast!

- False Face mask, Iroquois (Haudenosaunee), Northeast, USA. Late 19th or early 20th century. Carved wood, pigments, leather, horsehair. H.: 29 cm – 11 1⁄2 in. © Photo : Courtesy Galerie Flak, Paris

British Art Fair, London

September 28th, 5:50 am. My alarm goes off. It's the start of a long day! In my bag: my computer, my business cards, my microphone, my stabilizer (among a thousand other absolutely non-essential things). I'm heading to the Gare du Nord to catch the 9 am Eurostar. It's a quick day trip to attend the opening of the British Art Fair at the Saatchi Gallery. Despite having two appointments and a train back at 7 pm, I managed to explore the fair thoroughly, and it left a good impression on me.

- Wen WuJustine, 2023. Oil on linen. 30 x 25 cm. VirginiaVisualArts LTD.
John Clark, The Dance, 2023. Oil on linen. 60 x 91.5 cm (unframed). The Stratford Gallery

I've always been fond of the Saatchi Gallery. It's a wonderful exhibition space that feels more intimate than a big concrete hall. The booths were mostly small, but it was easy to navigate, and there weren't too many people despite a decent turnout. The fair showcased modern and contemporary artworks with a true dominance of painting, mostly figurative (which I must say I quite enjoyed!) I was fascinated by VictoriaVisualArts' solo show, which showcased a Chinese female artist painting very moving portraits of women around the idea of the book, referencing the pervasive censorship in her home country (photo). I also really liked a portrait study by Francis Bacon at Eames Fine Art's booth, a 1949 female nude by Ivon Hitchens at Upstone, and a barely sketched man's face by Nathan Ford at Beaux Arts Barth.

Finally, at The Stradford Gallery, I discovered an artist I didn't know, John Clark, whose work on body movement, astonishing compositions, and lack of frills really appealed to me (photo). I chose to highlight the booth of Candida Stevens Gallery, from London and Chichester, which showcased the work of 4 female artists, each depicting nature in their own unique way. Their different approaches moved me. I always find it cool when a booth tells a story and it's not just about placing artworks next to each other. In short, I enjoyed the fair, although I would have liked to see a greater diversity of mediums.

TAAH - The African Art Hub

I’m happy to share (or perhaps, reshare) a gallery that's been on my radar for nearly a year and has truly blossomed. Meet TAAH, which stands for The African Art Hub. Based in the UK, this dynamic platform bridges young artists from Africa and its diaspora with art lovers worldwide.

What's truly captivating about TAAH? Their unwavering dedication to nurturing budding artists. Through mentorship initiatives and collaborative endeavors, they're shaping the future of African art. Their exhibitions and workshops are a deep dive into Africa's rich tapestry of culture. A virtual stroll through their galleries? It's like opening a treasure chest of Africa's most promising artistic voices. One name that stands out for me? Edward Prah. Ever since I stumbled upon his work on TAAH, I've been utterly smitten.

And here's the cherry on top: TAAH is making its grand entrance at the upcoming 1-54 London. Trust me, their booth is set to be colorful and impressive. Can't wait to see what they bring to the table! In the meantime, I really invite you to check out their website here.

NY September fairs

By Laura Lati, US correspondent

With zero transition between the slow summer pace and a frenzy of openings and art happenings, on September 6, New York City was stormed with half a dozen art fairs around Manhattan.

The main fair, the Armory Show at the Javits Center was in line with last year’s edition, even though it was recently acquired by Frieze. Revisiting histories was the theme of the large-scale installations at the center of the fair and I was in awe with the James Cohan’s installation of Yinka Shonibare CBE, RA (Man Moving Up, 2022) as well as the thematically powerful wall map of Teresita Fernandez (Island Universe 2, 2023) by Lehmann Maupin. It was physically impossible to go through the whole fair on the same day. Notable booths were Ludorff with the vibrant works of Katharina Grosse, Anat Ebgi with the thick impasto paintings of Alec Egan (photo), Moskowitz Bayse with the Folded Fan by artist Michael Henry Hayden, Public Gallery with the unsettling sculptures by Cathrin Hoffman (photo) and Miles McEnery Gallery with the poignant work of Raffi Kalenderian. In the same mood were the gripping works of Rebecca Brodskis at Kristin Hjellegjerde Gallery. I also loved Michael Kohn’s booth with the work of current Whitney Museum artist Ilana Savdie and artist Nir Hod. Last but not least, Victoria Miro stood out with their presentation of Columbian artist Maria Berrio. It was definitely a welcomed break to tour the Solo section to cut the overwhelming aspect of the fair.

The novelty was the adjacent Photo Fairs taking place under the same roof (Javits Center). At the entrance, the photographs by Thandiwe Muriu at 193 Gallery were mesmerizing. The whole Gallery selection and presentation of the fair directed by Helen Toomer was delightful and enriching to walk through. Four booths that transported me were Tern Gallery, Osmos, Unix Gallery and Huxley-Parlor.

The next day I headed to a more serene part of town, the Seaport. Independent 20th Century was hosted in the majestic ceiling building of Cipriani South Street. Every booth there had a spectacular presentation and it wasn’t possible not to stare at the ravishing Marie Laurencin paintings, hanging at Nahmad Contemporary’s booth. I was also absorbed by the structured Band Paintings by Norman Zammitt at Karma’s booth. Vito Schnabel’s Warhol Commissioned Portraits looked magnificent in this vast space and so did the booth of Venus Over Manhattan with the juxtaposition of Alexander Calder works and the giant Grade Society Figures.

I definitely had the most fun at the Spring/Break Art Show, and so did my four-year-old. Most of the booths were very amusing, introducing AI, intriguing materials and effects to the installations, a wonderful fair to discover emerging talent and trends. There, artist Stuart Lantry stole the show with the Reinvented Wheel curated by Shona McAndrew. Gallery Poulsen certainly stood out with Jingyi Wang’s cactus-faced figures. The artist Masha Merci with her uncanny body parts was a major highlight at Filo Sofi Arts. The booth curated by Jamie Dolan, We Outside, was the cherry on top to end the visit.

Kiaf & Frieze Seoul

By Alicia Kim, Seoul correspondent

Visitors looking at an artwork called "Ken, 2023" by the artist Sun Yitian at the Frieze Seoul 2023 art fair in Seoul on September 6, 2023.

The second edition of Frieze Seoul took place this year, marking a delightful start to September despite the global economic slowdown. Held jointly with Kiaf Seoul, one of the largest art events in Korea, these two fairs brought art enthusiasts together at COEX (Convention & Exhibition).

At Frieze, works such as Kusama Yayoi's "Red Pumpkin" from David Zwirner and Nicolas Party's pieces from Hauser & Wirth found buyers on the opening day. The fair has attracted approximately 70,000 visitors. One of the most popular spots at the fair was the booth of Lévy Gorvy and Boeckmann Gallery, where artworks by Jeff Koons, Le Corbusier, Picasso, and others were displayed, drawing long queues of eager spectators. Additionally, Peter Harrington's booth, specializing in first editions and rare books, garnered attention with items such as the first edition of "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone" and second editions of Shakespearean plays.

At this year's Kiaf, there was a lot of exposure to new media art pieces and emerging artists. Visitors could even vote for their favorite, shining a spotlight on lesser-known but promising talents, creating a very fresh, vibrant, and enjoyable atmosphere. I was particularly fascinated by the Geumsan Gallery booth. It had a variety of artworks from both veteran and emerging artists in Korea, like Kun for instance, who was one of the 20 highlighted artists at the fair.

During this simultaneous showcase of art at COEX, directors from prominent Asian art fairs such as Art Basel Hong Kong, Frieze Seoul, Gendai Tokyo, Taïpei Dangdai, and KIAF engaged in various discussions, including the current and future landscape of new media art, the significance of Asian art fairs, the realm of experimental art in Korea, and the impact of artificial intelligence. These discussions provided an educational and networking platform for art fair attendees, fostering engagement with experts across diverse fields within the art industry.


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