UK economy stable, international the art market is in recession And the wider world remains burdened by ongoing geopolitical crises in the Middle East, Ukraine and beyond.
Yet, perhaps counter-intuitively, London’s contemporary art gallery scene is expanding.
This past weekend was a preview of the sixth edition condo london, a collaborative citywide exhibition involving 27 invited international dealerships presenting exhibitions in 23 London contemporary galleries. Host dealers may choose to offer their space to their visiting colleagues, or hold their own exhibitions with them. Most of the works in the event, which runs through February 17, are by emerging artists and are priced under $20,000.
In 2016, the inaugural edition of this innovative alternative to an international art fair included only eight London dealerships. Since then, spinoff events have been held in Athens, Mexico City, New York, São Paulo and Shanghai. This latest iteration is the first in London since 2020.
The four-year gap “was due to the pandemic,” said Vanessa Carlos, co-founder of . carlos/ishikawa Creator of the gallery and condo concept in the East End. “We wanted to wait for the moment when most people could travel freely,” he said.
Now, he said, “new things are happening in London.” The biggest challenge, he said, was keeping Condo London “small and intimate” at a time when the city’s re-energized gallery scene is on the rise. “Scale is important. There are a lot of big, exhausting programs,” he said, adding that the condo was small enough that multiple visitors could see it all.
“I think this is a whole new phase, a reset,” said phyllida reedOne of two condo participants from a new group of galleries in the Bloomsbury district near the British Museum, a neighborhood not previously associated with serious contemporary art. Reed opened his 2,500-square-foot gallery there in 2022; Four more dealers opened nearby last year.
During the condo, Reid is mounting “Labor of Love,” a solo exhibition of canvases by New Zealand-based artist Claudia Kogachi, affectionately depicting the painter and his girlfriend. The gallery also features paintings by Brazilian artist and transgender rights activist lia de castro, presented by Galeria Jacqueline Martins of São Paulo and Brussels. Reed said several of Castro’s paintings sold, each worth about 6,000 euros, or about $6,500.
“It’s competitive in an art fair. Condo is a collaboration,” said Guillaume Sultana, director of the Paris-based Sultana Gallery, who was presenting photographs by the young French artist Nanten Traoré. Amanda Wilkinson The gallery in Farringdon during the event. These tender, ephemeral studies of bodies in motion and transition are for sale in three editions, priced between €1,200 and €5,000 per image. Six of them sold during the preview, according to Sultana, who said there was a steady stream of visitors to the Wilkinson Gallery during the weekend. “London is such a big city. No matter what you do, you have people,” he said.
Indeed, unlike major “destination” fairs – such as Art Basel or Frieze – Kondo, focused on young galleries and emerging artists, is not the kind of event that attracts many international visitors, especially in January. But since guest gallerists only have to pay 750 pounds, about $950, to participate, dealers can take risks they couldn’t take at the fair. And price points at condos are often low enough to encourage sight-unseen online shopping.
“It’s much more comfortable. I can bring more experimental works to an art fair instead of spending $20,000 to $30,000 and risking my business,” said Alexander Shulan, Kondo’s regular director. New York Gallery Lomax,
Lomax was showing paintings by Berlin-based American artist David Flogher, whose simple, desolate interiors were priced between $9,000 and $22,000. Ginny at Frederick. According to Shulan, an American collector bought one at the preview.
Given the condo’s more casual format, the pace of sales was not unlike an art fair. But there was an audience at Carlos/Ishikawa for the first show of abstract paintings covered in mysterious symbols by Belgium-based Senegalese artist Libas Ka.
The gallery’s star artist Oscar Murillo got to know 25-year-old Ka while he was working in a Brussels superstore. Impressed by Ka’s artworks, Murillo recommended him to Carlos/Ishikawa. Many of Ka’s 11 paintings, priced between $7,000 and $38,000, had been sold by Sunday afternoon, Carlos said.
The condo preview was also an opportunity for the London dealership emmaline To showcase a new, second location in one of the oldest buildings in the Shoreditch neighborhood. Built in the early 18th century, the building, known as the Clerk’s House, now houses a beautiful white-painted gallery displaying works by Alvaro Barrington, Mattias Feldbakken and other artists from Emaline’s international stable.
Outside of Kondo’s show, other London galleries were showing signs of growth. Last Thursday, Dealer Neeru Ratnam A new 2,000-square-foot space opened in the Fitzrovia district with a show of British artist Emma Cousin’s contorted paintings.
“Opening a bigger gallery in a better location is a risk,” said Ratnam, who previously lived in a smaller, upper-floor gallery near Carnaby Street, “but you make more of a statement and it allows our artists to create more ambitious shows. make capable.”
“Staying stagnant in a challenging environment is also a risk,” Ratnam said. “You can easily fade away.”