Several months ago I received an email from Chris Barlow of London, England who I’d never met or heard of before. He said he found my art off the White Columns Artist Registry (by the way, all artists should submit their work to on-line registries for exposure) and he thought that I might be interested in exhibiting my work in London at an art fair he organizes called Parallax AF. The submission was free so I submitted my work and was accepted into the show. Now normally I refuse to exhibit my work for a fee because I’d be broke if I accepted every opportunity that had a price tag on it (artists beware… there is a huge industry out there that preys on artist’s desperation for recognition), but in this case the price seemed totally reasonable. For approximately $400 I was able to exhibit one 22” x 30” drawing, two 18” x 24” drawings, five 11” x 14” drawings, and forty 5 ½” x 8” drawings. Moreover, by choosing to exhibit drawings that I was able to roll up work I was able to bring it for free on the airplane as a carry-on. Anyway, I flew to London for the duration of the four day show a couple weeks ago.
Now to the art. There were about two hundred artists from thirty countries or so. People were exhibiting anywhere from one small drawing to several large paintings. Out of the two hundred artist I estimate about half of them were of a decorative nature. Of the other one hundred there was no one artist that stood above all the rest… instead there were fifteen or so that I thought were producing work of interest. The work of Paul Taylor, Fabiano Busdraghi, David Welch, Julia Weck, Grehard Stephanus de Groot, and Bastian Preussager was of the highest quality and depth. Other notable mentions were the photographers Carmen Spitznagel, Svein Traserud (whose work I’d like to see more of), Elena Duff, Marta Valls, and Irina Quintela, along with the 2-dimensional work of artists Bente Christensen Ernst, Edmund Wyss, Hendrik Moses, Vladimir Titov, and Urszula Sliz (whom only exhibited a single piece).
If only David Welch’s photographs in his totem series were larger, or better yet if he had shown some of the sculptures in person, he would’ve had my favorite pieces in the show. Regardless what his concept was for making these totems and taking photos of them they have a charm to them just as Paul Taylor’s photographs do. Both of these artists have created art rich in metaphor and they’ve done so in such a way as to draw the viewer in and participate in the creative process. What I mean is that both artists have given the audience just enough wiggle room to fill in the missing blank and complete the meaning of the piece. Art that is too open to interpretation reads as chaos to the audience… art that is too obvious shuts the audience out of the interpretive process… but art that has just the right balance sets the stage for the audience to play a small role in the action that can determine the ultimate meaning of the piece. I liken this concept to Chinese and Japanese ink brush paintings that suggest entire landscapes with minimal brushwork. This allows the audiences mind to fill in the gaps and engage in the creative act.
What I gather about the German artist Julia Weck is that she has an affinity for the handmade. The subject matter of her work is simple which I find refreshing at a time when you see more fecal matter represented in art than you do of someone's face. But above and beyond all else I thought her work was illustrative of what I call "punching through the target". In martial arts the fighter derives much more strength to their punch when aiming just beyond the surface of the target. The same principle is true for artists. You can tell when a painter or drawer is creating their work with the finished product in mind as opposed to arriving at a finished product by consequences of their exploration of the subject or idea. I find this most explicit in Julia's portraits.
In closing I thank Gerhard Stephanus de Groot for showing his excellent little drawings which were much needed at Parallax to represent the rude and the crude and the humorous. Bastian Presugger's works were very enjoyable to look at... I love the texture, caricature, and subject matter in what I believe were prints. If you like my charcoal portraits you'll love Fabiano Busdraghi's photographs (http://www.busdraghi.net/works/blow-up). I wish Isidora Ficovic would have shown some of her paintings, I wish Chris Barlow would've introduced himself to the artists (when you're in New York lets meet up), and I thank Chris and Rebecca Marcus-Monks and all the other folks that put together this exciting and enjoyable art fair.