Art14 London: A global art fair hits the mark? Media round up

As Art14 wraps up its second edition with a greater global focus, exhibitors and commentators share their opinions.

Art14 London (28 February – 2 March 2014) closed its second edition with positive feedback from galleries from around the globe. This year, the global art fair renewed its focus on Asia and increased participation of galleries from the Middle East and Africa.

Art14 London installation view. Photo: © Written Light. Image courtesy Art14.

Art14 London installation view. Photo: © Written Light. Image courtesy Art14.

Art14, London’s newest fair this year at its second edition, saw a 22 percent increase in visitors and a rise in the number of galleries participating from around the globe, up to 40 countries.

In 2014, the emphasis on a global art world was stronger than in the preceding year, when many people said the fair seemed dually focused on western and Asian art. The 2014 edition saw a continued interest in Asia, but also a growing presence from the Middle East and Africa.

In an Art14 press release, Stephanie Dieckvoss, Fair Director, said

The line-up thoroughly reflects the global ethos of the Fair, and the current state of the art market, which has seen a considerable growth of interest in art from previously underrepresented territories, such as Africa and South America. By bringing together exhibitors from all corners of the world, Art14 London is a unique place to discover and learn about art.

Art14 London opening night view. Photo: © Written Light. Image courtesy Art14.

Art14 London opening night view. Photo: © Written Light. Image courtesy Art14.

The big sales of the fair

In terms of sales, many galleries reported successful figures and some of them sold a conspicuous amount on opening night. According to the post-fair press release, among the highest fetching sales came from Pearl Lam Galleries, who sold a painting by Chinese artist Zhu Jinshi, titled Old Cycas Tree, for GBP 195,000 (USD 326,200) to a UK-based collector. Sundaram Tagore Gallery 
sold Fernando Botero‘s Donna Seduta (2005) for GBP 576,472 (USD 960,000).

Steadily growing in numbers

In the post-fair press release, Art14 reported a growth of 22 percent in footfall from last year: over the four day period of the 2014 event, the fair welcomed 31,231 visitors.

Visitors packed the Olympia Grand Hall on opening night. Chris Moore, publisher of Randian, said in an ArtTactic podcast,

Certainly, I was very impressed with the opening night, which was completely packed!

Digby Warde-Aldam wrote on Apollo Magazine

… something had clearly gone very right at Art13 last year – Art14, its successor, was positively rammed on its opening night.

Nina Lin from Aki Gallery, Taipei, commented in the post-fair press release, that

It has been a really good Fair. Art14 have put in a lot of effort to invite collectors – there were so many on the opening night.

The number of participating galleries also grew considerably from last year’s edition. Georgina Adam reported in the Financial Times that the 2013 fair was marred by unpredictable sales, saying

Praised last year for its freshness and for not showing the “same old” art fair fare, the event produced wildly varying commercial results for exhibitors. Some were very happy but others made no sales at all.

As a result, she said, 33 galleries dropped out this year, but 101 new ones signed up, bringing the number of participating galleries to 196, up about 60 from last year’s edition of 128. In response to this change, the Fair Director told Adam:

We have grown organically. Last year was the first and it’s inevitable that there was some turnover; some applicants didn’t get in this year either. The event is definitely getting stronger.

Art14 London, installation view of Pearl Lam Galleries stand. Photo: © Written Light. Image courtesy Art14.

Art14 London, installation view of Pearl Lam Galleries stand. Photo: © Written Light. Image courtesy Art14.

The majority of Asian galleries returned this year from China, Korea, Japan and South and Southeast Asia, such as Pearl Lam Galleries (Hong Kong, Shanghai, Singapore), Arario Gallery (Cheonan, Seoul, Beijing), Galerie du Monde (Hong Kong, Macau), Sundaram Tagore (New York City, Hong Kong, Singapore) and Delhi Art Gallery (New Delhi, Mumbai), among others.

New spaces made their first appearance in London in the “London First” section of the fair. This year also saw the participation of the first Pakistani gallery, Artchowk (Karachi), and new art galleries from the Middle East, such as Galerie Janine Rubeiz (Beirut), Athr Gallery (Jeddah), JAMM (Dubai) and EOA Projects (London and Jeddah).

There was also an additional number of African galleries in the main section, including Omenka Gallery (Lagos) and ARTCO Gallery (Germany), who showcased African artists.

Taking part in the “London First” section, Seah Tzi-Yan, Director of Singapore T.H.E.O. Arts Professionals PL, told Art Radar

This is our first time to show in London. We didn’t know what to expect – first art fairs are always a bit of an experiment (…) But we’ve found that lots of people have been looking at paintings and reacting positively. We’re happy we came – we’ve sold something and we expect to sell more by the end of today. We haven’t sold a huge amount, we’ve sold small ones, but there’s been a lot of interest and that’s what you want from a first fair.

In the ArtTactic podcast, Dieckvoss reported growing satisfaction from last year, with galleries and participants commenting on how the fair has grown up. She said that all the compliments probably stemmed from how the fair feels fresh, diverse and young.

Yinka Shonibare, 'Cannonball Heaven'. Installation at Art14. Pearl Lam in association with Stephen Friedman. Image courtesy Art14.

Yinka Shonibare, ‘Cannonball Heaven’. Installation at Art14. Pearl Lam in association with Stephen Friedman. Image courtesy Art14.

An ever-stronger global outlook

In the ArtTactic podcast, Dieckvoss said that the globality of the art world has been embraced by biennales, but the same could not be said of art fairs. She thought it was time for a fair not to focus only on western perspectives, but let in other players from more emerging scenes.

She went on to say that

It is very important to understand that the art world has become a global phenomenon and the dominant European and American [western] view of the art world and art market is changing and has been changing for a while.

In an interview with Randian, she emphasised the international aims of Art14.

I think emerging markets are one of our focuses, but also to create a platform and a discourse between established and emerging markets, and some are more “emerging” or have “emerged” more than others. What I think is important is creating a broader understanding about the art world, that it is becoming a more globalized phenomenon. This is not being discussed as much as it should be. We want to show that there is amazing art being created all over the world—the whole of Asia, the Pacific, China, Japan, much of which we don’t know much about in the West. I don’t think there is any other fair in Europe at the moment where you can see so much art from these territories.

Asked why London was a good choice for a global art fair, she replied:

I think London is one of the most cosmopolitan cities in Europe. …. compared with the other western art hubs in the twentieth-century, like Paris and New York, London is more connected to the emerging world, such as the Middle East and Asia.

In this regard, Coline Milliard reported in Artnet News:

Expectedly, all newcomers hope for new clients, whether they are based in the United Kingdom and wish to break into the Asian and Middle-Eastern market, or vice versa. “Europe is the center of the world for art,” says Liyun Wang from Bangkok’s Tang Contemporary, an exhibitor at Art Basel in Hong Kong and in Miami who is showing in the United Kingdom for the first time.

‘Bewildering’ choice may be a good thing for Art14

Milliard went on to say that visitors felt bewildered by the art on offer, from artists they had never heard of and galleries they didn’t know existed, a strategy which might actually prove beneficial to the Art14 in the long run:

One of the most interesting things about Art14 is that it’s not Frieze, which means that it isn’t a fair where one is sure to find familiar exhibitors with their host of vetted contemporary artists. During the private view yesterday, many visitors were wondering exactly what it was they are looking at as they encountered galleries they’d never heard of and artists virtually unknown in the West. Although unsettling, this might prove to be a smart strategy. The fair is casting itself as alternative, an introduction to new markets and art worlds – one which is positioned as an equal to London’s main fair.

Zhao Zhao, 'Waterfall', 2013. Installation at Art14. Image courtesy Alexander Ochs Gallery.

Zhao Zhao, ‘Waterfall’, 2013. Installation at Art14. Image courtesy Alexander Ochs Gallery.

It is not surprising there is a major focus on Asia, since Art14 Founders are Tim Etchells and Sandy Angus, the men behind ArtHK. Commentators have said that the fair sets itself apart from others by attracting an alternative art market, which doesn’t focus on the big name players in the art scene, but gives space to smaller, newer, fresher galleries from emerging art markets.

Talking to the Telegraph, before the beginning of the fair, Dieckvoss said:

People coming to the fair will find things they wouldn’t see at other art fairs – especially in London. The work is so varied and provides many surprise encounters: you might have a big Bridget Riley painting and then there will be a work by Eko Nugroho, who has never been seen in England before – but who is one of the hottest artists in Indonesia.

Ib Ibrahim, a Yemeni artist represented by JAMM Gallery, Dubai, told Art Radar:

What’s been exciting is I feel some of the pieces have been a magnet to bring people in… not only the pieces with universal themes, but also some Middle Eastern stories in regards to religion or culture.

Adding to this multicultural environment, a programme of 24 artists projects extended the Fair’s global ethos by punctuating the booths with installations from well known names such as British-Nigerian Yinka Shonibare, Chinese Ai Weiwei and Benin artist Romuald Hazoumé.  A far greater number of relatively unknown artists also contributed installations, including organic abstract sculptures by French-Egyptian Hoda Tawakol, a wooden sound-emitting installation by Hanaa Malallah from Iraq, and a blood red throne installation titled Waterfall by Chinese artist Zhao Zhao.

Romuald Hazoume, 'Rat Singer Second Only to God', 2013. Installation at Art14. Image courtesy October Gallery.

Romuald Hazoume, ‘Rat Singer Second Only to God’, 2013. Installation at Art14. Image courtesy October Gallery.

The Global Private Museum Summit

During the fair’s programme of talks, there was a strong focus on Asia, proving once more that the region is rising as a new centre of the global art world.

This year’s Global Private Museum Summit saw the participation of museum experts and collectors from all over the world, including Chinese collector Wang Wei, Indonesian collectors Budi Tek and Dr Oei Hong Djien, and South Korean curator Sunhee Kim. The Summit delivered a public talk as part of a panel discussion, titled “Museum Era: The Rise of Asia”, headed by Chinese art expert Philip Dodd, Chairman of Made in China UK and Chairman of Art14 London International Advisory Board.

The success of the Summit was summarised in a word by collectors Don and Mera Rubell from the Rubell Family Collection in the post-fair press release: “Brilliant.” 

Also quoted in the press release was Budi Tek, who founded the Yuz Museum in Shanghai:

The Global Private Museum Summit was a surprise to all of the participants. We have an idea of establishing an alliance that will impact on global private museum players greatly in the future. Thanks to Philip Dodd who brought us together. Like the Chinese saying: Hot strike the steel.

Iranian art entrepreneur, contemporary art collector and gallerist Ramin Salsali, Founder of the Salsali Private Museum in Dubai, commented:

The Global Private Museum Summit is the only platform worldwide which connects the founders of private museums from all of the world with each other – and then with the public museums. We all look forward to the evolution of the summit into to an international association of Private Museums. Philip Dodd deserves great praise for his vision.

Stuart Pearson Wright, 'Maze', 2011, (with Kiera Knightley), video installation at Art14. Image courtesy Riflemaker Gallery.

Stuart Pearson Wright, ‘Maze’, 2011, (with Kiera Knightley), video installation at Art14. Image courtesy Riflemaker Gallery.

A successful fair edition

Richard Bacon, a BBC Radio presenter and reporter, posted on Twitter:


British designer Afroditi Krassa, while visiting the fair, tweeted:

Artlyst tweeted:


Niru Ratman, Head of External Projects at the fair, said in an article on Apollo Magazine

In the end, global art has been articulated through the spread of commercial art galleries around the world, and the fair attempts to be a platform to showcase this. If visitors to the fair come away being enthused by five artists they’ve never heard of before, and five artists they were already familiar with, then the fair will have succeeded in its principal aim.

Russian art group Recycle Group, 'Omg they killed Kenny!!', 2013.Installation at Art14. Image courtesy Triumph Gallery.

Russian art group Recycle Group, ‘Omg they killed Kenny!!’, 2013.Installation at Art14. Image courtesy Triumph Gallery.

David Lin, Director of Lin & Lin Gallery (Taipei and Beijing), sold five paintings by Taiwanese artist Liu Shih-tung. Speaking to Art Radar, he said

The nice thing about this year’s fair [Art14] is that it’s not all about the price. Collectors are buying because they like the artwork here, which is different from some other fairs.

JAMM Gallery Managing Director Boris Pavelic revealed to Art Radar:

This is our first year, and we’re really pleased. We sold eight photos at the opening on the first day, and there was a lot of interest, it was really positive for us.

Asked about the challenges of coming to such a large art fair, he said:

The challenge is just trying to sell things and cover costs! Because it’s expensive, you know, to come to London and to take part. But we made contacts so this has been a great experience.

Fred W. Scholle, Managing Director of Hong Kong’s Galerie du Monde, this year celebrating their 40th anniversary, brought conceptual ink works by Chinese Li Hao.

He told Art Radar:

It’s our second year. It’s much better this year. In all ways – the layout the crowd, the collectors (…) The PR company did their job well this year and attracted a good crowd of people. (…) it’s been a nice fair, we’ve enjoyed it. A lot of nice connections and new people, that’s been good this year.

Asked if the gallery will come back for the next edition, he said:

We’d definitely come back. We think this fair is such an improvement on last year, it’s really found it’s mark and London now has two nice fairs.

Commenting on sales, collectors and the future of the fair, he added:

We found that last year it was very price conscious at the lower end and maybe the vetting was not as good as it could have been last year. This year has improved and it seems there are serious people, serious collectors. They’re from all over, surprisingly even some big collectors from China- one of the biggest from China came through on the first day. I’d rather not say the name! I think the fair will continue to get better as the next few years go on.

Yang Yongliang, Untitled, 2014, video, 4 panels screen, 120 x 60 x 4 cm. Image courtesy Galerie Paris-Beijing.

Yang Yongliang, Untitled, 2014, video, 4 panels screen, 120 x 60 x 4 cm. Image courtesy Galerie Paris-Beijing.

Baliant Bolygo, 'Trace II', 2012. Installation at Art14. Image courtesy Long & Ryle.

Baliant Bolygo, ‘Trace II’, 2012. Installation at Art14. Image courtesy Long & Ryle.

 C. A. Xuan Mai Ardia


Related topics: art fairs, Asian art, African art, Middle Eastern art, globalisation of art, Asia expands, events in London

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