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Art Market

Around the galleries – British Art Fair welcomes a fresh crop of collectors

22 August 2023

From the September 2023 issue of Apollo. Preview and subscribe here.

The British Art Fair

‘What makes the fair unique is the wonderful dealers who support it,’ says Gay Hutson, co-founder and director of the British Art Fair (BAF). ‘Many of them know (or have known) the key modern British artists and can share their enthusiasm and specialist knowledge with the visitors.’ This autumn, the fair returns to the Saatchi Gallery, where more than 70 dealers take over all four of its floors. Hutson founded the event, then called the 20th Century British Art Fair, with the late Angela ‘Bunny’ Wynn back in 1988. That it still plays host to many of the same exhibitors – among them Jonathan Clark, David Messum and Austin/Desmond – is testament to its enduring appeal.

Time hasn’t stood still for BAF, however. Last year, it was acquired by Ramsay Fairs, bringing the company’s global portfolio up to 17 fairs operating from Stockholm to Singapore. With this change came new initiatives. One innovation is the Solo Contemporary section, which debuted at the last edition. For 2023, it will double in size. Twenty galleries are contributing works to a display curated by artist-gallerist Zavier Ellis, who has asked each gallery to present work by one emerging artist. You can see why: by bringing a contemporary crowd through the doors, the fair will also welcome in a fresh crop of collectors.

Complex Interlocking Red, Blue, Olive, Yellow (1968) Patrick Heron. Osborne Samuel Gallery. Courtesy Osborne Samuel Gallery

Elsewhere, the exhibition ‘Crossing Borders: Internationalism in Modern British Art’ focuses on the contribution of migrants to the United Kingdom. Not surprisingly, the show ranges widely across genres and geographies – from the Austrian ceramic artist Hans Coper to the Ghanaian-born photographer James Barnor. It has been curated by Monica Bohm-Duchen, organiser of the nationwide Insiders/Outsiders arts festival (2019–20), which celebrated the contribution made by refugees from the Nazis. The choice of subject matter is no accident. The message, it seems, is that a focus on art made in Britain needn’t be parochial, nor require a form of aesthetic nationalism. Gammons, begone.

Hutson’s personal highlight? ‘Going around on set-up day, welcoming everyone and, as they hang their stands, seeing what wonderful pieces they have all managed to find.’ She adds: ‘All these exhibitors and many more have contributed to bringing modern British art to the fore and becoming the success that it is today.’ Hutson also mentions works by Frank Auerbach and L.S. Lowry.

Other stand-outs include a selection of energetic works by the painter Albert Irvin, brought to BAF by Whitford Fine Art (one of the fair’s most loyal exhibitors), and a similarly effervescent gouache by Patrick Heron, shown by Osborne Samuel Gallery. As with any good fair, though, there are less demanding delights to be discovered – not least work by the quietist’s quietist, Gwen John. La Petite Négresse (Christopher Kingzett Fine Art),inscribed ‘3ieme Lundi d’Aout, 1928’, depicts a stylish young woman seen as if glimpsed through the throngs of a hot city summer.

British Art Fair is at the Saatchi Gallery, London, from 28 September–1 October.

Foxes Masquerade, New Orleans, Louisiana (1992), Rosalind Fox Solomon. Courtesy Galerie Julien Sander.

Gallery highlights

Odoteres Ricardo de Ozias
1–29 September
David Zwirner, London

Odoteres Ricardo de Ozias deserves to be better known outside his native Brazil. The self-taught painter specialised in scenes of rural life, Afro-Brazilian religious rituals and, after becoming an evangelical minister, biblical scenes. Ozias’s first UK showing – one of the first abroad – includes works painted between 1996 and 2004, previously in the collection of the now-shuttered Museu Internacional de Arte Naïf in Rio de Janeiro.

Rosalind Fox Solomon: Photographs from the Private Archive
2 September–25 November
Galerie Julien Sander, Cologne

In 1968, a 38-year-old Rosalind Fox Solomon first picked up an Instamatic camera to record her experiences of volunteering in Japan. Thus began a globe-trotting career in which the US photographer captured complex scenes of life from Peru to Palestine. Works from the artist’s personal collection – which her gallery describes as ‘curious images’– are on show here.

Still from Four For See Beauties (2022), Laure Prouvost. Courtesy Lisson Gallery

Laure Prouvost: Stranded By Your Side
7 September–14 October
Lisson Gallery, New York

Following the birth of her youngest child, Laure Prouvost created Four For See Beauties (2022): a reflection on the watery beginnings of human life. Filmed in the wet warmth of a sauna, it features women nurturing the artist’s daughter while superimposed marine fauna drift past. Alongside it at Lisson are paintings from Prouvost’s Octopus Body series and a monumental bronze octopus that sprawls through the space.

Joseph Beuys – Reservoirs of Impulse: drawings, 1950s–1980s
4 September–20 October
Thaddaeus Ropac, Seoul

Though more famous for his use of evocative materials such as fat and felt, Joseph Beuys was also a dedicated draughtsman who viewed his drawings not as studies, but as standalone works. Thaddeus Ropac is inaugurating its newly-expanded Seoul outpost with an exhibition of Beuys’s surprisingly delicate drawings of subjects ranging from flora and fauna to landscapes.

Fairs in focus

Arte + Collezionismo Roma
28 September–2 October
Palazzo Brancaccio, Rome

The Palazzo Brancaccio in Rome, built in 1880 for Prince Salvatore Brancaccio, is now home to the Antique Dealers Association of Italy. The group has brought together 46 exhibitors for the resurrection of Arte e Collezionismo a Roma, a fair that held its last full edition 20 years ago. Art and antiques will be shown in what the organisers describe as a ‘cultural living room’ that wends its way through the palace.

Parcours de la Céramique et des Arts du Feu
19–23 September
Various venues, Paris

For its 16th edition, the Paris fair focused on ceramics, glassware and enamels has partnered with the Théodore Deck Museum in Guebwiller. To mark 200 years since the potter’s birth, each of the 17 dealers will present one Deck piece; other highlights include the Meissen group The Four Continents (c. 1745–50) at JM Béalu & Fils and an Iznik dish (c. 1610) with frolicking rabbits at Galerie Samarcande.

From the September 2023 issue of Apollo. Preview and subscribe here.