London Art Fair 2018: what to see

Published 9 January 2018

The 30th edition of London Art Fair runs 17-21 January 2018, presenting modern and contemporary art from around the world.

Leading British and international galleries come together to exhibit work by artists from the 20th century to the present day at the main fair, while specially curated spaces Art Projects and Photo50 showcase the next generation of artists and collectives.

It can be hard to know where to start, so here are five key things to look out for.

Art of the Nation: Five Artists Choose

Each year, London Art Fair partners with a different museum to spotlight significant collections of Modern British art. This year, they’re mixing things up a bit by partnering not with an institution but with another champion of the UK’s public collections – Art UK, an online project which began digitising art from museums across the country in 2003.

Art UK's exhibition at London Art Fair, Art of the Nation: Five Artists Choose, is their first ‘real-life’ outing, and they’ve invited five contemporary artists – Sonia Boyce, Mat Collishaw, Haroon Mirza, Oscar Murillo and Rose Wylie – to select works from the 20th and 21st centuries based around themes personal to them.

Dialogues curated by Misal Adnan Yildiz

An exhibition ‘devoted to the female psyche’, this year’s guest-curated section of Art Projects, Dialogues, is presented by curator, writer and educator Misal Adnan Yildiz and sees five pairs of UK and international galleries showing work by women and female-identifying artists – in direct response to the male-dominated dynamics of the art market.

The galleries will also present a high percentage of non-European participants and work including indigenous practices from Maori, Kurdish, Asian and African origins, in a gesture Yildiz describes as ‘not just a matter of positive discrimination. As an affirmative action, it is reverse discrimination’.

Screening Room: Quick, Quick, Quick

What does the ever-increasing speed of contemporary life mean for art? An exhibition of ‘fast’ art – animated GIFs, short films and videos – curated by Pryle Behrman appears to pander to the quickfire nature of modern living, but on closer inspection the works included encourage longer periods spent looking and considering. Films of no more than one minute may seem minimal, but their concentrated focus on a particular scene reveals details we may otherwise have overlooked.

Neatly, the 30th anniversary of London Art Fair coincides with the 30th anniversary of the GIF – perhaps one of the most playful artistic mediums today.

Photo50: Resolution is not the point

The curators of this year’s Photo50 exhibition, Hemera Collective, bring together work that demonstrates how photographers and image-makers are drawn to other specialisms in order to communicate personal, social and political ideas.

In these works, the photography itself is not necessarily 'the point'; rather, it becomes a space for the mixing of ideas and disciplines, a catalyst for exchange and even a prompt for collective action.

Talks and tours

A programme of stimulating talks and tours accompanies London Art Fair, covering topics such as the relationship between Modern British art and American artistic traditions, the impact of photography in reflecting identity politics, and approaches to curating gender and identity in art.

Those looking for industry-focused insight may be interested in a talk held by Sotheby's Institute of Art on the global status of the art market, while Sotheby's also lead a pair of tours of the Fair selecting contemporary highlights and work from emerging markets.

London Art Fair runs 17-21 January at Business Design Centre, Islington, London, N1 0QH.

Art Fund members can get 50% off day tickets when bought in advance using the code ARTFUND.

Non-Art Fund members receive 30% off day tickets when bought in advance using the code ARTFUND30.

Tickets bought on the day with a National Art Pass are £16.50 (standard price £23).

Terms & conditions: National Art Pass holders must have their card with them to receive this discount on the door. A National Art Pass will only admit money off one ticket and can't be used on multiple tickets. This offer can’t be used for tickets to the preview evening or on a multi-access ticket.

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