Galleries - April 2013

8. GALLERIES APRIL 13 Whitechapel and another at the Tate Gallery, leading to two members of the Group showing at the Venice Biennale in 1936. It is a terrific and timely bit of research – just six members of the Group survived to tell Buckman their story – and the quality of the work, some of it currently to be seen at Abbott & Holder (to 6 April, so be quick about it) is remarkably good. It says much, too, about the narrowness of current artistic snobberies (and lack of any historical sense) that they aren’t exhibited back at the Whitechapel itself. The End of the Prize? There is something interesting going on with conventional art prizes, the old format of everyone sending in something to a random group of judges and hoping for the best no longer quite drawing in the levels of top quality support from the artistic community that the large sums of (sponsors’) money involved would seem to merit. Many factors are at work here, not least the now high costs of entry and transport involved for the artist who, even with electronic pre- selection, can then still face the double-whammy of final non- selection, not to mention the main prize often going to one of the ‘usual suspects’. So all credit to the ever-innovative Jerwood Painting Fellowships for looking at ways to break the mould and Then, in London in mid-month, there is the re-launch of the New Chelsea Art Fair (11-14 April). Still in its old Chelsea Town Hall venue of some 17 years, it is under new management and has indeed made some significant changes, with a lower threshold of £500 and no upper limit at all. With just 35participating galleries, there is too a distinct upgrading in the class of gallery showing as well as the size of the space they have got to show in. With only original works of art (ie no prints) allowed, it would seem to be aiming now at a wealthier level of buyer – the recent demise of the former Art London Fair at Chelsea Hospital must surely have something to do with these changes . . . East London Line In all the hype of the last two decades about the East End’s buzzing artistic scene, an earlier renaissance from 80 years ago, the East End Group, has been almost totally overlooked. Until now anyway; the remarkable story art historian David Buckman’s new book ( From Bow to Biennale, Francis Boutle Publishers) about this remarkable movement is proving a real eye-opener. From evening classes in Bow, charismatic teacher John Cooper turned a few dozen working-class East Enders into one of the most successful exhibiting groups of the 30s, with a 1928 show at the ANTENNAE Train Fairs It is an indicator of the strength of the Art Market in this so far, cold, windy and austere Spring, that available slots in the calendar for art fairs this April are pretty much full. Dealers continue to reinforce their gallery sales by taking space at these events introducing their artists to a new audience. There are three events to make a note of this month: first the latest Affordable Art Fair in Brunel’s Old Station building at Bristol Temple Meads (26-28 April). To see what some of the galleries are showing there this time turn to our Fairs Special on p30. Not so far down Brunel’s old Great Western line there is, the same weekend, the Reading Contemporary Art Fair (27-28 April). Now in its fourth year, this fair may have learnt useful lessons about pricing, conveni- ence and accessibility from the AAF set up, and then added one or two bright ideas of its own. With 90 artists and galleries (it’s more individual artist-led than the AAF), they have got some imaginative looking Coronation- themed (50 years of course) workshop events led by Reading artists’ group Jelly and an inter- active event run by artist Este MacLeod, which will invite every- one to make a contribution to a giant wall-piece painting. With other participating artists making mini-canvases to be sold in aid of local Prince’s Trust initiatives, it makes an excellent package.