Financial Times. January 15 2010.


A Change of Focus at London Art Fair
by Francis Hodgson
Published January 15 2010

The London Art Fair has been deliberately shifted more towards photography this year. There is the perception of a void since the demise of Photo-London a few years ago, and the attraction is obvious. Photography tends to be affordable and popular. Both of these appeal in a year when all gallerists have reason to fear that some clients will keep their pockets firmly buttoned.

The special selection of photographs chosen by guest curators is a mixed bag. The stand-out is a wonderfully no-frills series by British photographer Nigel Shafran on the unlikely subject of dirty plates . In each view is a pile of dishes, and a caption identifies what they contained and who the meal was shared with. It sounds unpromising but these pictures resonate in the mind like Balzac or Theodore Dreiser, quietly brilliant realism.

In the same curated section, I liked the work of Alastair Levy, who makes pleasing mini-sculptures out of such things as Post-it notes or elastic bands that become oddly more than the sum of their sweet but slight parts when photographed well.

Among those being shown with gallery representation, I found a delightful set by the American Thomas Allen, who has developed a way of cutting pop-up figures from the lurid images on the covers of vintage pulp fiction paperbacks to make new and mildly ironic tableaux of his own. Most immediately reminiscent of the work of David Levinthal, these works have much deeper roots in previous photographic series than that, and are both charming and serious. Represented by the Foley Gallery of New York, I felt them good value at £1,600 ($2,610) in editions of 10.

Elsewhere, a powerful new series by John Goto (shown by gallery f5.6) cleverly take digitisation so far that it in effect becomes abstract painting. I was glad to see again the monumental studies of single books by Veronica Bailey. These immensely decorative pieces really do decorate a room and are sensibly priced at £10,500 in an edition of four (in the larger size). The fair isn’t a specialist photo fair – and it doesn’t claim to compete with those that are – but this year’s edition is well worth a visit by photography collectors.

All artwork and images © Veronica Bailey 2024.