LONDON – So we've all been to Art14 – London’s newest contemporary art fair now in its second year – and the dust has just about settled on a frantic few days that spilled into last weekend. Olympia was the new destination, and the area's Persian kebab restaurants saw a brisk business, even though the Fair itself had a culinary edge through the presence of various celebrity chefs and a pretty cool pop-up restaurant. Looking back, there was much to digest.
Rainer Becker (Zuma) at Art14 in London. Courtesy Art14.
It all kicked off at Citi Private Bank's Victoria and Albert Museum VIP Dinner on 26 February, where over 400 Citi clients and collectors clinked champagne glasses and listened to broadcaster, writer and curator Phillip Dodd and Anthony Gormley in conversation. In a way, the size of the event set the tone for what was to follow: a near-30% increase in fair attendance from last year, 30,000 visitors over the weekend alone, 42 countries represented, 182 galleries, 24 artist projects and a Botero from the Sundaram Tagore Gallery selling for nearly $1 million. Focus and acclaim revolved around Far Eastern art: Zhao Zhao’s Waterfall project dominated, Pearl Lam’s space was the funnel through which everyone entered the Fair, Korean artists impressed and a Zhu Jinshi sold for a whopping £195,000. This is not to detract from Pakistani, Indonesian, Taiwanese or Lithuanian art, however!
Art14, London's new modern and contemporary art fair. Courtesy Art14.
The second edition of the capital’s global art fair was by all accounts a success. Staking out a territory between Frieze and the London Art Fair, it brought together something for everyone, though leaving the rarified collector a little in the cold. The bulk of works appealed to mid-level buyers who warmed up to the inclusiveness and accessibility of the Fair. It goes without saying that this approach inevitably denies a carefully-curated aspect, but stand-out galleries such as Pearl Lam, the Fine Art Society, Beers Contemporary and younger dealers Robin Katz and Tristan Hoare nevertheless succeeded in showing top quality works. Falling as it does at a relatively quiet time of the international fairs calendar, Art14 has been seen as a welcome addition to the London art scene. Its amped-up art programme featured some genuinely engaging offerings, and artworks that had something new or fresh to express readily captured an excited audience.
Installation view of London's Art14. Courtesy Art14.
Picking a favourite is always tough in these circumstances, but I have to say the Lyn Chadwick at Robin Katz, Alejandro Guijarro's Quantum Mechanics at Tristan Hoare, and Hanaa Malallah's Barzakh at Park Gallery all resonated with me. To forget Parviz Tanavoli's superb stainless steel Heech as one of the Fair's dominating projects (chez Meshkati/Austin Desmond Fine Art) would be to miss a landmark on the buzzy and energetic landscape that was this growing Fair. London can now truly claim to be the art hub of the world.