The Affordable Art Fair 2019: A colourful, accessible showcase for collectors and the aesthetically curious
Colourful, jazzy and affordable: the fair for contemporary art lovers is back home in the serene Hampstead Heath this weekend. Now a fixed appointment in the diaries of Londoners and some of the city’s foreign visitors, the Affordable Art Fair is one of those few opportunities to access and possibly own original pieces of art, the works arriving from all around the world and shaped according to a good variety of styles and influences.
A key feature of this year’s edition is the prominent place given to the art of wellbeing. A large space right at the entrance is indeed dedicated to rebalancing and meditation. A spacious room is reserved for hosting yoga workshops and breathing classes throughout the four days. Checking the programme online before the visit would be helpful to enable you to catch some interesting sessions, or as a more spontaneous alternative, you might be surprised by what is taking place on the day and be tempted to join in.
Over 100 international galleries showcase in the main pavilion. Among familiar faces and new ones, returning artists and fresh discoveries, the exhibition offers plenty of choices
and a wide panorama on current trends and upcoming explorations. The price tags span a pretty low range considering the objects: works are never over £6,000 and start from £100 – although we notice a few items purchasable even for less. The stalls do not seem to have an evident order, at least not chronologically. It’s fascinating, therefore, to see how connections and contrasts subtly find their way through the different artworks and vogues.
Embossed elements and optic effects are some of the most common patterns through the corridors. J J Marino renders indistinct figures materially present, crowding his people with thick layers of paint. Jeon Nak completely captures the viewer’s eyes through three-dimensional depictions with swirling vortexes – blue (as in Axis-F5), yellow and few of mixed nuances – that emerge from black undefined spaces.
Statues inspired by the animal world abound. Smooth lines are a must, whether applied to ceramic dogs as proposed by ArtZandra, or to the plump penguins by Noor Brandt. Damilola Odusote processes his subjects and the frames into which they are inserted so as to render visual depth between 3D and ink prints. Pop culture and kitsch literally melt together in the resin ice creams by Betsy Enzensberger, while the feminine figures – such as Releasing by Jonathan Hateley – are tumbling though still very graceful.
There is a strong desire to reconnect with the great artists of the past and clear traces of their influence are scattered around, not just in the reproductions of fashion and cinematic icons, but also in references to Picasso and to Banksy, as in Nayla Kai Saroufim’s Chasing the Rainbow.
A particularly unexpected result is found in the splashes of colour by artist Ketna Patel, who works in the realm of Asian culture with a very humorous approach and a tendency towards maximalism. Selling Britain by the Pound is one of the most impressive prints, best summing up her expansive overturning of assumptions and exaggerations.
Quieter, but still featuring lively colours, is the series of nature-inspired works by Jen Shen, among which Meditation, in particular, draws attention for its bright oranges.
Art has no borders, either geographically and aesthetically, and the Affordable Art Fair delivers a sleek event both for the buyer and the curious.
Photos: Filippo L’Astorina
The Affordable Art Fair is at Hampstead Heath from 9th May until 12th May 2019. For further information visit the exhibition’s website here.