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What not to miss at London Art Fair 2019

16 January 2019

For Eric Ravilious, the Sussex Downs in summer were ‘the very colour of tea’. Midwinter may be descending on London, but the Towner Art Gallery has decided to bring the warmth of Sussex to the city. At the 31st edition of London Art Fair (16–20 January), the Towner presents ‘The Living Collection’, an exhibition of 25 works which together highlight the Eastbourne museum’s history of collecting and exhibiting contemporary art. With works by Ravilious, Edward Bawden and Duncan Grant, the exhibition also reveals how the Sussex countryside has influenced artists over the years.

Evening Sky Over Hill, Hitchens

Evening Sky Over Hill (1957), Ivon Hitchens. Towner Collection. Courtesy onathan Clark Fine Art; © Estate of Ivon Hitchens

The display is the latest of the imaginative collaborations with museums for which the event has become known. The fair itself continues to provide a platform for the best of modern and contemporary art from the UK and beyond. More than a hundred UK and international galleries are assembling at the Business Design Centre in Islington this year. The emphasis on modern British masters is carried on by Crane Kalman Gallery, with work by Ben Nicholson, Anthony Caro and Henry Moore, and in an exhibition of Graham Sutherland’s drawings at Christopher Kingzett Fine Art. Elsewhere, there are some innovative groupings: JGM Gallery presents abstract works by Western painters alongside Aboriginal Australian art. The latter includes the vivid abstract canvases of Bob Gibson Tjungurrayi, who paints from the remote town of Tjukurla in the Gibson Desert in Western Australia. With her major exhibition still at the Whitworth in Manchester, the textile artist Alice Kettle presents work at Candida Stevens Gallery, addressing the global refugee crisis; her disturbing portrait Stitch Head Textile (2008) appears to deal with the violence of displacement. At TAG Fine Arts, a new work by British-Bulgarian artist Yanko Tihov also glances at immigration; Europe 2019 maps the borders of Europe with national passport covers. Meanwhile, the subject of this year’s Apollo event in the talks programme, on Saturday 19 January, is ‘Modern British Art and Photography’.

Stitch Head Textile, Kettle

Stitch Head Textile (2008), Alice Kettle. Candida Stevens Gallery

The relationship between art, national identity and globalisation is also a theme of the curated Art Projects section. A major feature is Dialogues, in which pairs of galleries are invited to collaborate. This year’s exhibitions, overseen by Brazilian writer and curator Kiki Mazzucchelli, are bringing together the work of contemporary artists in Latin America and Europe. Similarly, this year’s Photo50, curated by Tim Clark, displays the work of British and Irish photographers such as David Moore and Léonie Hampton alongside a number of international artists who have never been shown before in London, including Mariela Sancari from Mexico and Amak Mahmoodian from Iran.

London Art Fair is at the Business Design Centre, London, from 16–20 January. 

From the January 2019 issue of Apollo. Preview and subscribe here

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