Whether you consider Art14 as a fresh new addition to the London art scene, or a way of absorbing a wall of funds flowing into London, it does offer the chance to see a host of galleries you may not previously have seen.
Pushing into the hall through the overwhelming bling of the entrance, the highest concentration of finds for me were in the Emerge section of the show, with several of these galleries having also shown at London Art Fair in January, now bringing a new set of works to Art14. Fold Gallery’s painting-through-to sculpture show was particularly interesting, including a Kes Richardson work suggesting to me a fresher, lighter contemporary take on Peter Halley, and a row of Dominic Beattie’s glowing thin sculptural wall pieces. Nearby and beautifully positioned right in the centre of the hall, Edel Assanti were showing works by Gordon Cheung. Strange spatial effects produced using spray and print over pages from the FT, were overlaid with the thickest, shiney seductive strands of paint. My favourite included an image of an empty ghost town (presumably Ordos), the two horses standing in Genghis Khan Plaza taking centre stage, tribute now to a burst housing bubble.
Elsewhere in the Emerge section Bearspace were showing Reginald S Aloyisius detailed charcoal landscape drawings with lumps of dried paint seeming to float on the surface, and opposite Hanmi Gallery drew in the eye with Junebum Park’s videos of people following an unknown set of rules to move around a grid like a surreal human game of chess. But it was outside of Emerge that I saw what were for me the two highlights of the show. Firstly Mummery & Schnelle’s simple photographs of folded black photographic film by Paul Caffell were elegant and minimal yet pulled the mind round in circles. Finally, very much worth seeking out at a gallery called Andipa, right towards the back of the hall a work by William Makrell drew me back several times. Consisting of a grid of what appeared to be carbon paper, the work was called ‘Sleep’, and appeared to show the marks left after the artist had slept on them. Conjuring up references to Emin’s bed, yet thin, slight and understated, the work was lit from behind giving an impression of a night sky.
On first entering the hall, my initial impression was of the soaring space of Olympia left empty above the white flats of the gallery spaces below, which seemed a lost opportunity. Just one piece seemed to offer relief by linking the two, with Hanaa Malallam’s staircase ‘Barzakh: Obstacle’, a wooden staircase teathered to the roof by a metal cable. But even then the viewer was deliberately thwarted by missing steps and installation on a vertical plane offering a ‘perpetual, inescapable situation’. Towards evening Thursday’s opening became a crowded, shouty affair, but beyond the frenzy Art14 has some real gems that are worth seeking out.