Art13 opened yesterday with a surge of international collectors looking to buy art from a spectrum of galleries not seen in London before. Collectors and galleries alike commented on the opportunity to see and display artists who had previously had little presence in global fairs.
Waling Boers of Boers-Li (Beijing) told Spear’s: ‘This fair shows another side of Contemporary art production globally [than other fairs]. We participated in Frieze New York… This is a local set-up but more global.’
Collectors were evidently responding: during the collectors’ preview, a major collector bought two works from PIFO Gallery in Beijing, according to Philip Dodd, chair of the Art13 advisory board and an expert in Chinese collecting. With prices at galleries in the mid-range – lower tens of thousands rather than £200,000 and above at Frieze, as a fellow journalist suggested – collectors are able to pick up a few pieces by emerging artists instead of another Spin-butterfly painting.
There were plenty of senior art-world figures in attendance, including Charles Saumarez Smith, head of the Royal Academy; Matthew Slotover and Amanda Sharp, founders of the Frieze Art Fair; and directors of high-profile London galleries such as Alison Jacques Gallery. Pop star Harry Styles also made an appearance and bought four pieces from Eleven Fine Art.
FAIR DIRECTOR STEPHANIE Dieckvoss said that opening people’s eyes was key: ‘I hope that everyone sees something they’ve never seen before, or see it in a new light.’ It certainly made a change to go around a fair without seeing the same galleries and the same artists and the same artworks which travel from London to Miami to Hong Kong to Basel to New York.
Pictured above: Zhu Jinshi’s ‘boat’ made out of rice paper is one of Art13’s projects
One London gallerist (there as a guest) told Spear’s he regretted not doing the fair when asked.
There were plenty of innovative contributions to the fair, which, with 122 galleries (compared with Frieze London’s 175 and the Armory’s 210), felt a lot more manageable and not as high-pressured. Steve Lazarides, the gallerist famous for representing Banksy, installed a squat at Art13 (pictured below), complete with electric fire, empty bottles of beers and a dozen artworks, including a Johnny Yeo of two nudes. (Also noticed: a copy of Spear’s donated for the purpose.)
Art13, which Spear’s is media partnering, had earlier brought together high-profile collectors and owners of private museums for a session to exchange ideas and experiences. The session was conducted under Chatham House rules, so no-one was giving much away, but collector Dominique Levy told Spear’s that the discussion was ‘excellent’ and the session ‘extraordinary’ for the frank and useful conversation.
THE FAIR HAS tried to make a niche for itself by bringing together a broad range of galleries from around the world, including Hungary, the UAE, Turkey, South Africa and South Korea. Many galleries have never shown in London before.
Pearl Lam, the eccentric Hong Kong gallerist who was showing Su Xiaobai, a former pupil of Gerhard Richter, said a fair like Art13 was needed because western collectors were too narrow in their appreciation of eastern art: ‘They just want to see something and say, This is Minimalism, this is Abstract. But they’re not.’
Spear’s has a stand at M15 in the magazine section, where you can pick up a free copy and meet some of the Spear’s team
Pictured above: Fair director Stephanie Dieckvoss in front of a tapestry by El Anatsui