To meet a UBS wealth manager during Frieze week raises few eyebrows. Yet Boston-based Geoff Hardagon is here as creator rather than collector. Even more surprisingly, he is showing at Moniker Art Fair, the Shoreditch showcase devoted to street art.
But then Moniker, like street art, is a hybrid creature. Owned by Ronnie Wood’s sons James and Tyrone, few could describe Scream gallery as underground. Currently showing David Bailey’s paintings in its main space, at Moniker its centrepiece is “Made in China”, a stunning portrait by Joe Black of a Chinese army official made from coloured toy soldiers, priced at £12,000.
Hardagon meanwhile has dreamt up a sign inspired by posters that sprang up on lampposts in recession-hit Boston offering cash for houses. His version, which includes a real phone number, reads “Cash for Your Warhol”.
Yet the smell of street spirit lingers. At Stolen Space gallery, no second name is forthcoming for the 28-year-old who goes by the moniker “Word to Mother” and whose evocative paintings fuse Neo-Pop and gestural styles. Darker is the story behind a moody digital image of a young man clinging to a graffiti-scrawled train by Nils Muller. A train jumper himself, the 30-year-old Cologne-based photographer, showing at the Able & Baker gallery, now chronicles the thrill-seeking that has seen 10 of his friends lose their lives.
More sedate but equally enticing is Multiplied, a fair focused on contemporary editions at Christie’s. “Three Moderately Cautionary Tales” is a cycle of three £10 books each with 50 etchings by law-graduate-turned-artist Alexander Massouras on display at the booth of Julian Page, while “Meme CV” is one of an open series of Antony Gormley’s trademark cast-iron figures. Part Rodin, part robot, the £30,000 sculpture graced the stand of blue-chip showcase White Cube.
Now in its second year, the diversity, quality and value for money at Multiplied are making it a hit with the public. At the packed opening night, guests included Tracey Emin, Bob and Roberta Smith and X-Factor judge Louis Walsh.
Walter Benjamin may have lamented art in the age of reproduction but in the age of recession, there is safety in numbers.