Three years ago a new art exhibition was launched to ‘create a global art fair in the world’s global city’ – and the fact Art16 has grown exponentially in such a short time shows how in demand such an event was. From Senegal to South Korea, and Cuba to Czech Republic, the world’s finest artists will be converging on London in May for Art16
Words: Mark Kebble
‘The international art market has expanded tremendously in the last ten years and London has cemented its position as a cultural and economic crossroads,’ comments Nathan Clements-Gillespie, Art16’s Show Director. ‘It only makes sense to have a different, strong offering in such a vibrant city, considering New York has The Armory, Independent, NADA and Frieze New York among others.’
Clements-Gillespie is one example of how Art16 has evolved, joining as Show Director this year. ‘The excitement and possibility,’ he says on the lure. ‘My experience at MACRO – The Museum of Contemporary Art of Rome – taught me the importance of art fairs, not only as places to transact, but as focal points for artists, dealers, collectors, museum directors, curators and art world professionals to meet, engage and make things happen.
‘Art16 is all that, in a fantastic city and with an incredible network of sister fairs with which we share both galleries and collectors: India Art Fair, Art International Istanbul, Sydney Contemporary, Photo Shanghai and Art Central Hong Kong.’
What stands out for me about Art16, which returns to Olympia from 20-22 May, is the emphasis on not just the big names in the industry, but the fact it also offers a platform for fresher and edgier talents to show their work.
Art16 is a fair produced by our generation and targeted to our generation. A strong contemporary art ecosystem is dependent on fostering young artists, collectors, curators and, of course, galleries
‘You will be able to discover artists you would not otherwise have seen and who work outside the western canon,’ Clements-Gillespie nods in agreement. ‘It is truly exhilarating to unearth new talent.’ He says Diet Sayler and Yang Yongliang are names to watch, who will be exhibiting alongside the more established artists like Liu Bolin, Qiu Deshu, Damien Hirst and Polly Morgan.
Another difference about Art16 is how it doesn’t prioritise the experienced art collector out there. ‘Art16 is a fair produced by our generation and targeted to our generation,’ Clements-Gillespie states. ‘A strong contemporary art ecosystem is dependent on fostering young artists, collectors, curators and, of course, galleries.
The most important collectors, such as Patrizia Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, understand the importance of supporting galleries who are in turn scouting artists and nurturing their development. As in years past, Art16 will welcome established collectors growing institutional collections alongside those in their early/mid 20s with modest budgets. This is an investment in our artistic future.’
Art16 has come far since being launched by Tim Etchells and Sandy Angus in 2013, and is a worthy showcase of how our capital has become central to the world of art.
‘London has a wealth of world class institutions, exceptional art schools, is a hub for Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Middle East, and a landing point for the Americas to the rest of the continent,’ Clements-Gillespie concludes. ‘Its dynamic economy, rich cultural offerings, educational system, and quality of life attract many of the world’s major collectors who have a base in the city and support contemporary art.’
Art16 runs from 20-22 May at Olympia. See artfairslondon.com