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PAD London 2011: A Pavilion full of bite-size art galleries

  Thursday 13th October 2011

If you sweat cash, go to London’s Pavilion of Art and Design. If you don’t, go to London’s Pavilion of Art and Design.

When I walked through Mayfair’s plush environs to reach the green centre of Berkeley Square, upon which now stands a temporary yet substantial Pavilion, I thought that I wasn’t going to enjoy PAD London very much at all.

The short walk from Green Park Station took me past a collection of high-end establishments: hotels with top-hatted doormen, car-showrooms gleaming and glistening even in the October fog, and several fast-food stops charging over a fiver for a gargantuan coffee cup filled with soup, and many others.

As a cultural lefty, my stomach usually lurches when art is too overtly mixed with filthy lucre. Essentially, PAD London is a department store for high-end art. Many galleries are collected under one roof, and into this pours, over four days, corporate buyers, international art spies and other undeniably monied individuals.

Understandably, I thought PAD London may be a touch exclusive and might espouse the uncomfortable old aphorism that art was not for the masses – I was wrong.

Even though PAD London is a department store for high-end art and there will be massive sums spent there, the general public will be able to share in the glory.

For a reasonable £20, you can enter the Pavilion and take in a diverse and beautiful collection.

As the event is driven by profit, each participating gallery has brought along their quality stock. Therefore, as you slowly walk through the Pavilion, drinking in its unique buzzing tranquility, you will be greeted by a wealth of diverse artistic phenomena.

As you walk through the Pavilion’s entrance, you meet an original Miró, hanging in Eykyn MacLean’s gallery space. If you continue leftward, Perimeter Art and Design’s area includes Fernando and Humberto Campana’s brightly coloured rug lauding multiculturalism. It is moments like these which made me fall for PAD London. Nowhere else would these two pieces keep such close quarters. Even though I don’t propose that the chronological/genre-based logic of the ‘traditional’ gallery should be widely shunned, to be freed from it was a thrill. As you turn a corner, you never know whether you’re going to get Lucien Freud’s ‘Donegal Man’, or a spiky piece of Junk Art.

Continuing on, you’ll come across The Mayor Gallery, whose collection houses some of my favourite pieces.

The Mayor Gallery made me stop and stare the longest. Their modern, neo-Dadaist niche not only delights the eye but teases and tests the mind. Pieces such as Dadamaino’s ‘Volume’ and Carlos Cruz-Diez’s ‘Physichromie on Aluminium’ make you, as a viewer of art, crouch, lean, bend, sit, stand, squint and stare.

The sculptures which delighted me most were Harry Bertoia’s towering Dandelion and Francois Xavier Lalanne’s gargantuan Gorilla, sold by Todd Merill Antiques and Ben Brown respectively. Both are breathtaking and huge: they are far taller than me and I stand at just under 6”0. Both of these examples show design at its most entertaining. They were fabricated to please the eye and encourage a smile to play on the lips, and they do so with ease. If any corporate buyers need a conversation piece for the reception area of their city-centre LLP, look no further.

I’d encourage anyone to experience The Pavilion of Art and Design. The department store setup explodes the geography of the gallery and creates a pick-and-mix of engaging and diverse – and expensive – artworks. The Pavilion is open to the public from Tuesday 12th October until Friday 16th. The nearest tube station is Green Park, with the exhibition itself taking place in Berkeley Square, Mayfair.

www.padlondon.net

Ben Goldsmith

Auguste Rodin, The Thinker, 1881-1882. Courtesy of Sladmore Gallery.

Auguste Rodin, The Thinker, 1881-1882. Courtesy of Sladmore Gallery.

Herb Ritts, Stephanie, Cindy, Christy, Tatjana, Naomi, Hollywood 1989. Courtesy of Hamiltons Gallery.

Herb Ritts, Stephanie, Cindy, Christy, Tatjana, Naomi, Hollywood 1989. Courtesy of Hamiltons Gallery.

Joan Miró, L'Etoile insaissible, 1968. Courtesy of Dickinson Gallery.

Joan Miró, L'Etoile insaissible, 1968. Courtesy of Dickinson Gallery.

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