Galleries - November 2013

From Russia ... With major sales at Sotheby’s, Christie’s, Bonhams and MacDougall’s, a whole raft of fascinating-looking exhibitions at galleries both public and private and an excellent series of talks, lectures and musical and theatrical events, this year’s Russian Art Week (22 to 29 November) looks like being even better than ever. The brainchild (in 2012) of a dynamic young Russian specialist and academic, Theodora Clarke, who also edits a major online site for Russian art, Russian Art and Culture, it reflects the extraordinary influence the Russian community now exerts on London life – the Evening Standard is owned by Russian-born millionaire, Evgeny Lebedev, after all, and he is supporting an art-writer’s prize this year. Major London dealers in the area are involved of course and are putting on some top shows: Aktis has an exhibition of work by Early 20th C. Russian Émigré Artists – some intriguingly avant-garde looking work here in a field largely unfamiliar to me – while Erarta is showing the highly regarded Valery Valran, now in his 60s, who evolved in the late 70s a style that he described as “archetypal still lifes” and which subsequently developed into “magical abstractionism” viz architectural views, portraits and still lifes in pale, limpid colours – odd and disturbing. Another show I approach but it obviously works in terms of its Thames Valley audience, to which the idea of involving local artists’ groups such as Jelly to put on themed workshops (drawing and drop-in drawing sessions) can only contribute. Other similar events here include Este McLeod’s evolving canvases which, designed to change people’s perceptions of their artistic capabilities, have drawn some enthusiastic responses from participants. Another nice idea here too is that of selling miniature canvases, created by exhibiting artists and displayed on a dedicated stand, for £40 each to raise money for the Prince’s Trust. In short, lots of imaginative thinking. Finally, there’s Made Brighton (21 to 24 November) in which some 120 innovative and original designers and makers fill Brighton Dome-Corn Exchange with a quite exhilarating range of ceramics, fabrics, furniture, jewellery, metalwork, graphic design, samplers, artists’ books, millinery, handbags, leather goods, designer clothes, stationery, even children’s blankets and knitwear. In fact you name it and it’ll probably be there and, this being Brighton, it’s all to a very high level indeed, far removed from the often rather tacky kitsch that such events so often tend to engender. 10. GALLERIES NOVEMBER 13 ANTENNAE Art Fairs . . . With the frenetic London art fair scene in October – Frieze, Frieze Masters, Strarta and AAF – now behind us, attention turns to the bustling autumn fair calendar outside London – they are no longer simply a spring and summer phenomenon. First up is the well-established Edinburgh Art Fair which is covered in more detail in our special feature on page 13. There are plenty of others around this month as well, notably in Cambridge, Windsor and Brighton. The Cambridge City Art Fair (15 to 17 November), with an attractive city-centre venue at the Guildhall in the Market Square, is a particularly notable newcomer with 35 exhibitors drawn from a wide geographical range; for example, Lilford Gallery from Canterbury, Woodbine Contemporary from Uppingham, Abbey Walk from Grimsby, Lime Tree from Long Melford (and Bristol) and Skylark from London – the latter one of a number of the capital’s galleries that help substantiate the organisers’ sales pitch of “You don’t need to go to London to see the best galleries, we’ve brought them to you!” Rather longer established – 9 years to be precise – the Windsor Contemporary Art Fair (9/10 November) has thrived on an interesting mix of both local and regional galleries and individual artists. Not many fairs adopt quite such a holistic