AFFORDABLE ART FAIR – BATTERSEA PARK

AFFORDABLE ART FAIR, BATTERSEA PARK IN MARCH 2011, ART OVERLOAD!

This was the place to go last weekend, to see too much art – art overload!

It is not a place to see great art, or even much good art. Its a marketing place, where galleries set out their wares.

You, the customer, are enticed to stop and look. Much of what you stop and look at is actually a load of rubbish.
Here in the marquee were predominantly paintings and prints, with a bit of sculpture and ceramics. and a little bit of three-dimensional stuff.
I did not see any video or installations.

ART MARKETING BY AAF

The market for this kind of low key art must be huge. The organizers, who are called The Affordable Art Fair, AAF for short, are based in Putney, South West London, and I remember when Will Ramsay first started up – the marketing ploy being ‘Affordable Art’, so it was cheap and cheerful. Now its not so cheap, the maximum price was (I seem to recall) £4,000.

Being professional, the AAF have prospered and hold Art Fairs in Battersea, London, in March and October, and now are planning an Art Fair in Hampstead in North London in late October. Also they have fairs in New York, Amsterdam, Melbourne , and in Bristol in the UK.

DERIVATIVE WORK

Regarding the art on display, I saw nothing new or exciting. Most work seems derivative. Possibly this is because that is what people are comfortable with, hanging on their walls. They want to look at something that seems like a Marc Chagall or Gary Hume. Of necessity, the majority of the works are either large or medium size, not the gigantic stuff that the posh galleries show – I am thinking works by Dexter Dalwood, for instance, whose works were hung last year in the Tate Britain, during the Turner Prize exhibition.

At the time of my visit, sales seems fairly brisk, and I watched one lady decide to buy – on consultation with her husband about where to hang the piece – a horrific bright orange work, of an acrylic material – very shiny and of such a repellent texture that I am sure her family will be tempted to put pieces of their chewing gum on it, to give it some humanizing relevance.

SPORTS ART

I am interested in seeing work by other artists which relate to my speciality, sports art, and saw good work by Allan Henderson, showing with the Barn Galleries of Henley on Thames. Photographic representations of rowers and water reflections.

JOTTA AND UNIVERSITY OF THE ARTS LONDON

In the entrance to the marquee there was a display of recent Fine Art Graduate work, which was curated by Jotta and University of the Arts, London. I was pleased to see that one work by a friend from college days had been sold. It was a very large oil painting by Chris Golle. Called ‘Hotel Room’ , it measured 145cm x 165cm and had a price tag of £1,650.

VISUAL OVERLOAD

There were stands from far away places, I noticed galleries from Toronto, Vietnam, Sweden, France, Brussels and Spain and I suppose there were others too. It was impossible to walk round all the alley ways of displays – six of them – without getting visual overload.

Being the weekend, there were a lot of kids there, particularly in the cafe. They must have been very bored. It was crowded everywhere, which is good news for the people buying display space – I hope they did make a lot of sales. Unfortunately my impression was the same as on my previous visit, see my previous blog about AAF in 2010. SPORTSPORTRAITARTIST.BLOGSPOT.COM

FUTUREtense GALLERY

This stand was excellent. I enjoyed speaking to the friendly gallery staff and liked the work. They have a website, thefuturetense.net on which they state they are ‘free from the constraints of a fixed gallery space’. I noticed that several galleries there similarly have no actual gallery, presumably they operate in cyberspace?

RUDE GALLERY OWNERS

My impression was that when the proprietor of the gallery ascertained you were not going to buy something (by some clever sixth sense) they were very uninterested in talking to you, and often walked away quite rudely. I did not tell them I am an artist, because I know that puts gallery owners off! Even so, I think people engaged in the art lark should take more of a professional stance when being asked to talk about their experience of the fair and the work that they are representing.

My final impression: a great mish-mash of styles, colours, sizes, sophistication and hopes! So many artists trying to make a living, and so many people with whom who they are trying to engage, who know nothing!

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