Marketed as a “relaxed, unstuffy environment and lots of good quality contemporary art” the premise of the event is simple enough – an accessible window into a sometimes intimidating and elitist world. Sure, these are not the surroundings in which to stumble across a super kooky, avant garde surprise. However, amongst the office fodder of insipid landscapes and cow portraits we spotted some fun-inspired trends; worthy alternatives to that scuffed band poster and photos of your friends on the brink of alcohol induced wipe outs, for those thinking of tentatively broadening the horizons of their bedroom walls. Here’s the pick of the crop according to us. Alternately if your not quite ready to take the leap the trusty 'Don't Panic' poster presents a super affordable (free!) middle ground.
Sambavnha, by Swoon (Lilford Gallery)
If you are trying for dead cert cool then any canvas which has an edge of graffiti is a safe bet right? Way too safe. There were lots of pseudo Banksy-esque pieces knocking around the Battersea show room but for genuine kudos, Lilford Gallery were offering limited edition screen prints from Swoon, more of which are up for grabs on their online gallery.
In the wake of her exhibition this side of the pond at Black Rats Project, Swoon’s delicate wheat paste prints and paper cut outs are streets away from your average vandal, and are starting to earn her a name for herself – a sound investment then. Moreover her wide breadth of inspirations from family and friends to ancient mythologies come together in something that is urban and bold, yet still feminine and imaginatively intriguing.
Lenticular prints (commonly confused with holograms by the unintiated, including us until we wiki'ed it)
Simon and Ruth, by Anna Tas (Wanrooij Gallery)
Holograms and Lenticular prints infiltrate everyday life from cereal packets to credit cards and now it seems they are taking the world of affordable art by storm too, fulfilling the function of being a bit of fun, if nothing else. As the internet seems to be bursting at the seams with animated GIFs again, so the Battersea Arts Fair was teeming with holographic moving imagery, messing with our vision and leaving us wondering if the free wine had gone to our heads.
For bringing a bit of animation to your sitting room, we recommend Anna Tas who had work on display with the Wanrooij Gallery who focus on artists using new media. Her Lego like figures coyly change gender and race as you walk past, gently playing with our conceptions of identity.
The Barber, by Vincent Bousserez (My Life in Art Gallery)
Slinkachu has been the premier purveyor of little plastic people since 2006 now. You’re probably familiar with the ‘Little People in the City’ book that was a top Waterstones stocking-filler for a bit - and if you're not, check our interview. The Affordable Art Fair 2012 has seen this pleasantly humorous trend take hold as artists everywhere turn their hand to crafting miniature dioramas. Examples were polarised in standard, ranging from the well executed and delicate to the botched and GCSEesque. Vincent Bousserez made the most successful claim this trend, using his camera as the middleman and looking infinitely more professional than everything else on offer. Through exceptional photography rather than presentation of actual figures, Bousserez allows for his tiny people to invite contemplation rather than a quick peek and a chuckle like those works presented in jam jars or the like.
WA2, by Jaccinto Moros (StandARTE Gallery)
Anything that my mother would refer to as ‘touchy feely’ seemed to enjoy attention at this year’s fair, but our favourite was this slightly more subtle offering from Spaniard Jaccinto Moros. It’s as if a Grecian architect got a degree in graphic design, and we loved it. Inviting a look from all angles, we found ourselves with noses an inch from the paper, wondering if we were looking at an expensive version of those buzzer games you had when you were a kid that involved following the path of a squiggle using a metal stick. Not that a comparison to a child’s toy is in any way adequate to describe this artwork, but that’s the sort of lovely nostalgic sensibility this very adult work aroused within us.
Miguel Martin, Love Art London
On the more interactive side of the fair, we were promised a lot of workshops aimed at kids. Unfortunately, they didn’t start until the day after the opening so we were walking around looking pretty glum about there not being any Pritt stick and crepe paper time. Then we turned around the corner and smiles donned our skulls as we witnessed Miguel Martin taking suggestions for what to draw on his wall over the entire weekend. He was there with the commendable company Love Art London, encouraging membership and the submission of bizarre ideas for him to doodle. Highlights included one note (the result of which is the picture above) that asked for a "half 90 year old man half baby riding a bike made out of bones, with a magical turtle biting the back tyre being attacked by a giant bee, while squirting everyone with a water pistol filled with black liquid." Easy Peasy.
Find out more about the layman's favourite art fair here.