Cultural philanthropy is changing. Art collectors, patrons and a young generation of art lovers are curious and hungry for being in-the-know, for gaining direct and exclusive access to artist studios, eminent private collections, out-of-hours curator tours and attending the advanced preview of the preview of an exhibition. I enjoy the lot. However, the full potential of bespoke art engagement is greater. Art enthusiasts see art and culture as part of their lifestyle. They travel globally to see fairs, biennials and key exhibitions. It is only a matter of time that fatigue of content-spread-thin and lack of distinct experiences catch up.
It is Paris art week. Inaugurated 44 years ago, FIAC is the classic afternoon tea affair whilst, in its third edition, Paris Internationale is the bloody mary on the grunge rooftop of a multi-storey car park. Paris Internationale art fair brings together a young generation of 55 galleries and 8 project spaces from 17 countries. With a sense for the surreal and body awareness, these are my highlights.
“An artist statement is constantly rewritten and almost always out of date because things keep moving on.”
“Art is a big compromise. It starts with a big lie and the success is to make it as true as possible. The moment that you want to talk about something, it becomes a copy of it. You leave out so many things or you put in many others that don’t exist.”
It is back-to-school time and I would like to wave the summer goodbye in the gentlest way possible, featuring Cartas y Atardeceres (Letters and Sunsets) by Diango Hernández. The ongoing project exists online. The artist sources photographs of modern architecture and superimposes his characteristic graphic waves inspired by letters as a literary genre as well as actual letters from relevant personalities.
“This is a project proposal, a sort of collage. Something I am currently developing which involves buildings that I consider remarkable. Special places that my imaginary letters just activate.”
Last week’s Photo London left a slight bittersweet taste for me. The fair brings together a great selection of galleries and it is a must-see for anyone interested in photography. However, there was an overwhelming presence of fashion photography and female portraiture. At worse banal and celebrity-driven, at best a lush sensuous rich experience.
After the Kate Moss overdose, Helmut Newton’s ubiquitous iconic images of determined women, Horst P. Horst’s timeless classics, Irving Penn’s soft touch, Norman Parkinson’s old-world glamour, Miles Aldridge’s dolls… the penny dropped heavy. With the exception of very few works dotted around by Lillian Bassman, Sarah Moon and Ellen von Unwerth, a wander around the fair felt like I had been transported to another time, ignoring the contemporary appetite for female voices. The male gaze was starting to give away a rancid whiff.
Victor Benady’s Art Collection: “I don’t worry about investment. What concerns me is meeting the artist, immersing myself in the studio practice, getting under the skin of things and building relationships”
Photo London opens next week on Thursday 18th until Sunday 21st at Somerset House in central London. In its third edition, the fair has gained momentum and photography is settling into London’s annual art calendar. To accompany the fair, three exhibitions by Mat Collishaw, Isaac Julien and Taryn Simon will also open at Somerset House. Since the coming week will all be about photography, May’s gallery highlights are commercial exhibitions on the medium. Expect pleasure-seeking from a young Maisie Cousins, a look back at Renate Bertlmann’s feminist wit and timeless elegance on the nature of desire and the gaze by Isaac Julien.