As the second edition of Eye of the Collector opens its doors tomorrow at London’s Two Temple Place, the founder, Nazy Vassegh, tells LUX which pieces to look out for
I am writing this column after a long and busy first day installing the second edition of Eye of the Collector. Free of the normal white tents and gallery booths, we have been working for the past six months with our participating galleries to curate a new type of show that encourages creative new dialogues and collecting pathways.
Over one hundred and fifty works from three thousand years of art history have arrived in the past days, each one to be hung with care and consideration ‘as if in a collector’s home’. The whole event is set against the stunning backdrop of Two Temple Place, a neo-gothic masterpiece built in the late nineteenth century for William Waldorf Astor. Our aim is to make the experience of visiting an art fair an enjoyable journey of discovery.
When you enter the private space of an art collector there are always surprises, works that unexpectedly fall outside of their main collecting categories, ‘cri de coeur’ purchases or inherited pieces passed down through generations. It is this curatorial excitement that we strive to recreate through the juxtaposition of works at the fair, suggesting new ways of collecting.
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This year we have a broad cross section of galleries representing the international canon of art history.
Starting at one of the earliest works, I totally adore this Chalcidising eye-cup being brought by Ariadne Gallery. A drinking vessel for toasting the gods, as the wine went down so the head of Medusa would appear inside.
From the Horn of Africa, we welcome Addis Fine Art to the fair this year, representing some of the greatest artists from Ethiopia and the diaspora. I have been so impressed by the quality of painting led by Tadesse Mesfin, and continuing through two of his students also on show Tizta Berhanu and Nigatu Tsehay.
After the Second World War, many of Europe’s artists left in pursuit of a socialist ideal in the Americas. Some of the most talented ended up in Brazil where the Modernist movement was growing rapidly. This year we have some of the finest works from this period being brought to the fair by Ana Escarzaga Gallery, a specialist in that period. My personal favourites are a pair of chairs made by the trailblazer Lina Bo Bardi, designed originally for her own home Casa de Vidrio in São Paulo in the early 1950’s.
Following this year’s theme concentrating on the importance of female artists throughout history, one work that has really touched me is Leni Dothan’s Sleeping Madonna, 2011. This video work, showing the artist breastfeeding her young son, is a direct reference to the canon of Christian iconography and grand master painting where the female figure of Mary Magdalen is often portrayed as passive and alone.
Emblematic of the spirit of discovery at the fair are the sublime works by Alice Walton. With a forensic eye, Walton produces highly complex and multi-layered objects infused with a rich tonal blending technique. These textured surfaces are intense and yet calm.
Continuing the theme of female artists, we are delighted to have an important work by Australian female First Nation artist Nyarapayi Giles. Unusual amongst her peers, Nyarapayi embraced vibrant colour to tell the story of her life. The subtle and flowing application of paint shows great originality; the style she has developed is readily recognisable and unique to her works.
The first edition of Eye of the Collector last September was a great success. We had always said we would be happy if we managed to get 3000 people through the door over the four days. We have nearly half that booked now for VIP Day alone tomorrow.
Tickets are available at eyeofthecollector.com for Thursday 12th, Friday 13th and Saturday 14th May 2002