Without wanting to suggest that the Frieze weekend isn’t already busy enough, it seems strange that Multiplied, at Christie’s in South Kensington, is the only one of London’s vast number of concurrent art fairs dedicated to editions. The fair’s monopoly on the market does not, however, presuppose any complacency in what it exhibits; the work on offer is for the most part of extremely high quality, and though prices generally reflect this, they remain relatively reasonable. It’s an unashamedly commercial proposition – there is no pretence to establishing an ‘identity’; the exhibitors pay what they pay to show (more on this later) and get on with it – any branding is reassuringly subtle.
A cursory circuit of the territory immediately picks out some obvious standouts; at Edinburgh’s Ingleby Gallery, a beautiful print of James Hugonin’s Binary Rhythm (Indigo) conveys all of the shimmering, musical discipline of the original, losing nothing of the extraordinary precision and control displayed in the artist’s signature grid paintings. At the Flowers stand, Simon Roberts’s photographs of seaside piers commands the rest of the room, bathetic and detached but somehow impossibly romantic. The Multiple Store offers exceptional works by, amongst others, Fiona Banner, Kenny Hunter and Cornelia Parker, whose Meteorite Lands in the Middle of Nowhere is about as much fun as it’s possible to have with a work of contemporary art.
Paris’s Grey Area Multiples has an astonishing selection of Alfred T Palmer’s kodachromes of women at work in an aircraft factory in 1942, while New Dome, a travelling set-up based around the notably less glamorous locale of Deptford, plays what is either a very good joke or a rather crass stunt; Untitled (How Can you Represent if you Can’t Pay the Rent?) is founder Richard Parry’s invoice for his concession at Multiplied, framed and retailing for the cost it lists on its deadpan litany of figures – which, for the record, is £1,080.00. Elsewhere, Marc Quinn presents some – guess what? – so-so Marc Quinn prints, while various other galleries put forward works that tediously ‘draw on’ Lichtenstein and Warhol; forgettable though this sort of thing might be, it feels somewhat inevitably in line with the event’s remit.
Christie’s is a surprisingly suitable venue for such an event; with just over 40 galleries represented here (roughly three quarters of which are British and the rest a grab-bag of European, North American and South African names), there is sufficient space for the visitor to engage with one stand at a time. If anything, Multiplied lacks the urgency and high-stakes tension of its fellow travellers. While art fairs can sometimes feel exhausting, a visit to to this one is actually a rather revitalising experience.
Multiplied 2013 is on at Christie’s South Kensington until Monday 21 October.