Review of The Other Art Fair, Victoria House

Now in its fifth year, The Other Art Fair has firmly established itself as an alternative way for buyers to access art. Its 120 artists – all of whom have been selected from a large number of applicants – man the stalls at the event themselves, where they can discuss their work with visitors and forge contacts in a refreshingly informal way. This year the fair infiltrated the great, dilapidated basement of Victoria House near Holborn in London, and manifested a transitory circus of culture, which targeted the eye, ear and taste buds.

Martin Parr’s The Art of Dining set the multi-sensory tone. An immersive experience, it allowed visitors to enter into the aesthetic essence of Parr’s photography by serving food amidst the kind of red-chequered tablecloths and fancy china that constitute his imagery. Other high-profile exhibits included a section called London Futures, which showcased artists who had not displayed art in London before, and Lights of Soho, whose neon displays set a seedy atmosphere at the entrance.

Naturally, the art and photography on show was defined by its diversity. Yet there were certain themes that seemed to unify artists – a transnational agenda, for example, especially hybridising Japanese or Chinese styles with European ones. Benjamin Parker’s etchings and paintings exemplify this best – his delicate and visually arresting work knitted Western and Eastern modes intelligently. Of the photography on sale, Gina Soden’s images of desolate interiors and kaleidoscopic manipulation of architecture stood out for their technical skill and clarity. Noreen Khan’s drawings and prints were visually pleasing and had a vibrant and loose affinity with surrealist and abstract expressionist technique – reimagined here with sharpies and highlighters, and a sense of fun.

Matthew Wilson

The Other Art Fair ran from 7-10 April, Victoria House, London.

1. Gina Soden, Frieden Large (2014). Courtesy of the artist and The Other Art Fair.