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October 18, 2013 6:29 pm
The decision to move to a new location has paid off for Moniker, the London fair devoted to urban art. Formerly resident in a shabby-but-soulful Shoreditch warehouse, it has now moved to a prime east London retail hub, the Old Truman Brewery in Brick Lane, where it is sharing space with the Other Art Fair.
Moniker is famous for its wild opening night party, but on the morning after the night before, its 30-strong contingent of exhibitors were high on the memory of lucrative sales rather than any less salubrious stimulants.
Artist David Shillinglaw, whose thought-provoking graphics were occupying one of the Project spaces (curated stands devoted to single artists), was thrilled to have sold his most expensive work “Fire in Your Belly” (£2,000). The robotic figure, conjured in paint, ink and Tipp-Ex, sold to an Italian collector who had made the trek from Frieze. Shillinglaw had also sold three mask-like paintings on scaffold board at £350 each.
Former pub sign painter Ryan Callanan, another Projects artist, had reason to smile as wide as the grinning faces he had moulded from sunshine-yellow resin. Measuring the same sizes as old-fashioned vinyl records – as you might expect from an artist whose strong ties to the music business include the patronage of Fatboy Slim – two had been sold at £350 and £950 respectively.
Now in its fourth edition, maturity allied to a more structured setting inevitably sees Moniker straying from its underground roots. This year sees a plethora of sleek prints, photography by the likes of Fenton Bailey (son of David and represented by West End gallery Imitate Modern) and, at Scream gallery, a mischievous example of conceptual street art: a stack of empty boxes stamped “aerosol cans” which New York-based artist Greg Lamarche is selling in editions of 200 for £300 each.
Amid the commodity trading, the smell of street spirit lingers. In the bunker space assembled by SOS gallery, which translates as souledoutstudios, Asian-based artist-dealer Beejoir showed work by Mau Mau, a bona fide street artist who had painted everything from “barns in Devon to trains in London”. At least eight of his paintings, often peopled by droll, cartoonish foxes, had sold the previous evening at £1,200 per canvas. Here too is surely the week’s most irreverent art work: an old-fashioned Punch and Judy theatre entitled “Saatchi and Saatchi”, which is Beejoir’s own creation.
The USP of the Other Art Fair is the absence of any galleries at all. Instead, booths are occupied by more than 100 artists who are without dealers. Visitors must keep their eyes peeled to truffle gems among an abundance of art more ordinary, but it is worth the concentration. Trained at Camberwell College of Art, 29-year-old Damilola Odusote’s linear gifts lend themselves to small, delicate drawings of birds and animals enlivened by real twigs and flowers. At the time of writing, four had sold at £180 each. (In a sign of the times, one buyer was overheard praising them for their Instagram-friendly properties.) Also impressive are Odusote’s intricate maps of imagery. Entwining symbols such as parking machines, toasters, zebra crossings and My Little Pony, they summon London’s idiosyncratic chaos and are on sale for £3,000-£4,000 each.
Find of the fair? Printmaker Dolores de Sade, a graduate of the Royal College of Art with work in the V&A and the Government Art Collection, has an acute facility for blending the linear precision of historical etchings with her own quirky imagination. Thus her representation of a so-called “refuge staircase” leading up through bushes from a motorway embankment takes on the wild mystery of a German Romantic landscape.
With such treasures to be found, Brick Lane can look forward to a giddy weekend.
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