With more than 100 participating galleries, it is not an understatement that exploring the fair is an exhausting task. However, below are ten of my favourite works shown.

10.

bonnieclyde2

Bonnie and Clyde – Ocean Front Walk, Venice Beach

It should not come as a surprise that a collage of my hometown automatically made it onto this list. Despite my own grievance at the renaming of The Strand to Ocean Front Walk, the collage overall does a wonderful job at recreating the typical LA beach lifestyle, but not the swanky Venice Beach lifestyle. Nonetheless, this gives the image a broader value of representing LA life. Typical LA icons are featured—from the lifeguard houses to non-native palm trees. However the beach tranquility is countered by the stretch of blue just above the strand. Is it a paved area or is it actually a flooded sewer? Are the people wafting there in order to show that Angelenos are actually living in an unnatural and dirty habitat? As one ‘goes deeper’ toward the background, one sees waves—represented by the white. Is this water foam or a tsunami striking, indicating the peril LA could face once the big one hits? The image is quite playful about the nature of LA. Even the beautiful coloured clouds are really just recreating LA’s fantastical polluted sunset.

09.

Matt Magee Rose of Jays 2011 polymer relief print 55 x 37cm

Matt Magee – Rose of Jays

We often take for granted the typefaces used in our printed material. The playfully titled Rose of Jays by Magee (along with the rest of the exhibition Word Works the Eagle Gallery / EMH Arts booth) brings us a reflective sheet of J’s. From a distance it appears simply as lines of colour, but up close one sees the individual J’s (which I mistakenly first took for I’s.) One can only contemplate at this print that is made using traditional letterpress—not for being different, but for reminding us the form of letters in themselves are beautiful. Although these J’s were inspired by a way a friend of Magee signed his emails, what do the typefaces we prefer say about us, and how do they interact with the documents we create. Do you agree that there is inherent beauty in typefaces, and by extension, our written alphabet?

08.

Nicholson_Piquet1933

Ben Nicholson – Piquet, 1933

The St Ives School was quite represented at the fair, and this piece by Ben Nicholson is a wonderful dialogue between Dutch still lives and modern art. The items are being abstracted and reduced to form. This has the effect of making the painting more sombre and humble, not too dissimilar to cheap student lunches.

07.

Maisie Broadhead – Isabella Study I

As with Nicholson’s Picquet, it is the modern dialogue in Broadhead’s Isabella Study I and Vermeer’s Young Woman with a Pearl Necklace. Now, it isn’t that I’m ultra-conservative that I only like work that converses with the past, but with much contemporary art available, it is a nice change to return to more traditional ‘representation’ (inverted commas for a reason). Isabella Study I is humorous, with the woman having her arms in the same pose as Vermeer’s model, and in typical Dutch clothing—however the towel-wrapped hair is a familiar, modern sight, along the modern bottles of product, lamps, etc. Somehow, in spite of the dated outfit, the composition works seamlessly. And, saying much about the nature of women—both desks having objects to help the woman increase her beauty—humorously showing that some things do not change.

06.

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David Hockney – Matelot Kevin Druez 2

Another artist with Los Angeles connections, David Hockney’s Matelot Kevin Druez 2 is on this list, not because of his LA links, but because the sheer movement in this print and the fact that gingers have a special place in my heart. The chair to begin with, reminds me of van Gogh, as do the line movements going in all various directions. The flattening green background further hearkens to impressionist paintings. Because most of the lines seem to go downward, there is an impression the sitter has just decided to sit, as if haphazardly—with the chair moving forward, ready to pop out the frame. His arm hangs, like he’s ready to take another drag off his cigarette. The smoke, itself, one can almost imagine how it would smell—thick and strong, and his facial expression gives the appearance that we, the viewers, are having a serious discussion with the sailor. There is no doubt about it—Matelot Kevin Druez 2 is utterly beautiful.

05.

susan elliott mosaic

Susan Elliott – title unknown

Susan Elliott’s mosaics are indescribable in one word. She takes the mundane, everyday second-hand objects and turns them into art. Whilst most of her mosaics are based upon the Union Jack, this one is not. It does, however, seem to reference almost just about everything that it is beyond kitsch. Unfortunately I do not know the title—I only managed to get the artists name. Such a shame I didn’t do more asking around.

04.

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Enrique Azocar – Icarus II

The detail given to the sheer texture of paint is awesome, in the original sense of the word. When viewed from a distance, the aerial seen is breath taking, but from up close, claustrophobic, as one realises that so much attention has been given to actually making streets discernable from buildings.

03.

brulat_ruben_Odeurs d-origines

Ruben Brulat – Odeaurs d’origines

Brulet’s Odeaurs d’origines captivated my imagination for a good number of minutes, enough so that I practically hogged the viewing space. This photo is from the series, Paths, and all the photos are shot in various remote locations around the world, always with random, willing participants. For Odeaurs, the beauty lies in the stranded figure who I like to imagine as a traveller lost in the wilderness. The landscape, which is located at Kurodake, Japan, appears dangerous and savage, yet our safety is secured by looking from a higher vantage point. Every layer has inexplicable amount of detail, from the graininess of rock to the clear-cut look of the white stone. If Edmund Burke were alive, he would say that this doesn’t depict the beautiful, but rather the sublime.

02.

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Georg Küttinger – Salinas

Salinas – as the title suggests, was shot at Salinas del Janubio. The image, though, reminded me  of the modern, colourful Dutch landscape as seen from the air. However, unlike typical landscape tradition, Küttinger isn’t only depicting what he or his camera captures at one specific instance in space and time, but actually a landscape spanning over whole week, at various times of the day (the image, from left to right, goes from morning to noon to evening), and even different points of view. All of this is combined to create a landscape that, although is based upon the original salt fields in Salinas, now create a new landscape that captures the shifting, moving nature of our world. We then as viewer impress our own knowledge of a landscape onto the image itself. So as I saw my own country’s landscape in the image, perhaps someone else would’ve seen parched plots of desert deep in California’s Death Valley—this, plays with then the notion of time and space, and does force us reflect upon these two grappling philosophical concepts. For a comparison, you can view more documentary style photos of Salinas at Flickr.

01.

01. Tobias Till – London A-Z Prints - L

01. Tobias Till – London A-Z Prints - D01. 01. Tobias Till – London A-Z Prints - S

Tobias Till – London A-Z Prints

There is nothing wrong with old-fashioned printmaking. However, I don’t normally come across a set of prints that makes me wish I had £4000 for the whole series. This is how Till’s London A-Z Prints made me feel. The series, which is inspired by A-Z maps, are reminiscent of Kirchner’s early 20th century Berlin street scenes. In spite of not being expressionist works, the prints still capture London’s fast paced motion in an oddly restrained British manner. And like the exciting Kirchner scenes which depict the then contemporary Berlin, Till’s also depicts his contemporary time—our everyday London life! The scenes, in themselves, seem simple and the usage of line helps create a sense of movement. Further, the inclusion of a crane in the background and a helicopter in the sky visually bring city noise to life. One is able to imagine the city buzz. As stated earlier, the scene feels restrained when compared to, for example, the full excitement expressed in Kirchner’s Nollendorfplatz, but rather than depicting a new modern era, Till is depicting us, the viewer, in our natural habitat, and thus taking care to depict these small details. For instance, in L, the bankers have distinct facial expressions. In contrast to upheavel, Kirchner doesn’t do the same for his people in Potsdamer Platz. This is because the world isn’t as fast-paced that technological change is overwhelming us—we’ve already adapted and can now relax in the ‘hustle and bustle’ of the city. Not surprisingly, then, is the morning calmness one feels in D­ – DLR. The sun is still rising and it still feels quiet as people are waking up. You can feel the morning and that specific way how public transport feels and smells in the early hours. I wouldn’t be any bit surprised if these images later became collector’s items or placed in history books, such as print S, which depicts the Shard—a building that is only example of London’s new high-rise skyline.

Gallery List:

Enrique Azocar
Gray Modern & Contemporary Art
By appointment.
http://www.graymca.co.uk

Bonnie and Clyde
Liberty Gallery
http://www.liberty-gallery.com

Maisie Broadhead
Sarah Myerscough Fine Art
15-16 Brook’s Mews
London W1K 4DS
http://www.sarahmyerscough.com

Ruben Brulat
LAMB arts
By appointment only
+44 787496 7980 | UK
+55 (11) 941421989 | Brazil
http://www.lamb-arts.com

Susan Elliott
MAUGER MODERN – LONDON
81 Rochester Row, London SW1P 1LJ
http://www.maugermodern.com

David Hockney
Gwen Hughes Fine Art
http://www.gwenhughesart.co.uk

Georg Küttinger
PYTHONGALLERY
Dorfstrasse 2
8703 Erlenbach/Zürich
http://www.pythongallery.ch

Matt Magee
Eagle Gallery / EMH Arts
159 Farringdon Road
London EC1R 3AL
http://www.emmahilleagle.com

Ben Nicholson
The Hepworth Wakefield
Gallery Walk
Wakefield, West Yorkshire
WF1 5AW
http://www.hepworthwakefield.org

Tobias Till
TAG Fine Arts
Unit 129a Business Design Centre
52 Upper Street
London N1 0QH
http://www.tagfinearts.com