The best thing about art fairs is that you get to see a diverse collection of work presented under one roof, but it’s also interesting to identify the common threads – recurring themes, colours and stylistic similarities – which, perhaps, reflect something beyond the individual artist: a kind of collective murmuring.
At this year’s edition of Enter Art Fair, amongst a sprawling collection of over 60 galleries and 250 artists, there seemed to be a focus on memory and nature, depicted as an atmosphere rather than a specific place through gestural and abstract paintings, alongside a selection of text-based works, which employed wit and humour to provoke questions around climate change, consumerism and identity.
Tom Reichster Gallery presented a series of paintings by Yang Kailiang, evoking different versions of a gloomy landscape. Blurred and abstracted by the artist’s brushstrokes, the works convey a strong sense of uncertainty and instability, as if the landscapes were being simultaneously remembered and forgotten.
A similar theme continued in Kristin Hjellegjerde Gallery‘s booth with two mixed-media artworks British artist Caroline Jane Harris. Circular in shape, the artworks, entitled Portal I and II, offer a glimpse of a green, leafy landscape, fractured by the presence of a window pane and the artist’s hand-cut detailing, which creates a kind of gauze-like texture. Alongside Harris’ work the gallery presented a painting by Norwegian artist Vibeke Slyngstad, depicting a white, industrial-looking door opening into a similarly lush setting amongst which two figures are partially hidden behind the leaves of a tree. In this way, both artists play on the idea of art as a kind of threshold into other worlds and new perspectives, while also evoking a slightly surreal and unsettling atmosphere that resonates with ideas around memory and loss.
Danish artist Astrid Kruse Jensen’s faded photographs at Martin Asbæk Gallery also explore notions of memory and place, capturing sunlight as a kind of ghostlike presence that hangs suspended in eerie, vacant domestic spaces. Meanwhile, Mercedes Lara’s series of textured, mixed-media works, presented by Lucía Mendoza, employ gold and copper leaf and sewn felt on panels of recycled wood to create delicate maps that trace the contours of land and sea.
The most compelling text-based works erred on the side of surreal (rather than literal) with words and phrases suspended amidst colour, against whimsical backdrops (such as Iliodora Margellos’ series of textile-based pieces at Dio Horia gallery) or presented, in the case of Laure Provoust’s Grand Ma paints nice boobs and bums to get back grand dad John Piper has no interest in these things at carlier | gebauer gallery, as a kind of caption. (Enter Art Fair’s Head Art Advisor & Chairman of the selection committee, Kirsten Eggers curated her own excellent selection of text-based works on social media, which can also be viewed here).
Millie Walton is a London-based art writer and editor. She has contributed a broad range of arts and culture features and interviews to numerous international publications, and collaborated with artists and galleries globally. She also writes fiction and poetry.