Contemporary art fairs are always a gamble.
The famous quote, “Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.” could easily refer to art fairs, there is no doubt about it.
Enough with refering everything back to love affairs! The box of chocolates, with its uncertainty of choice, is a clear metaphor for the complex system of art fairs.
How didn’t I see this before?!
My brief, but intense, art fair experience has left me with the impression that most of the art fairs are focused on the commercial level. It seems that many are more interested in appealing to the eccentric taste of the audience rather than seeking purity in artistic intentions.
With the exception of Art Basel and a few others, it seems that many art fairs are ,at most, a lethal mix representing everything from amateur still lifes and abstract paintings by exotic patterns and hues saturated until the collapse.
Until last week, I felt the same.
So, you can only imagine my excitement regarding the annual Amsterdam illustration fair. With zero expectations and ten euro in hand, I approached the entrance.
As I made my way into the big tent, the initial vibe was “pork festival-fancy mood.” Yet, I decided to continue on, trying not to judge a book by its cover. I wanted to give the exhibition a fair chance.
As I approached the first illustration, I realized that this work was on an entirely different level, than what I had seen at other art fairs.
The actual quality of the work was a pleasant surprise. Drawings, graphics, paintings: everything showed skill, depth of intent, and knowledge of contemporary art.
The fair was divided into sections, named after the galleries participating in the exhibition.
The collage, in particular, was the medium that I recognized as the main protagonist of this show. Almost every stand exhibited, amonst other works, dada flavored collages, but a less provocative aftertaste.
Pastel colors, delicate subjects, a commingling of styles and assemblages with threads, fabric, metal.
The geometric shapes were everywhere, perfect in their simplicity. Their shapes reminded me something in between the prism of The Dark Side of the Moon and a scientific research on the constellations.
An important slice of exposure was also dedicated to the artistic experimentation: new techniques of illustration, type designs and interesting experiments with exceptional materials.
Somebody has drawn on the hard covers of old books, others created complicated 3D compositions using only one wire. One artist also rediscovered the essential beauty of a pencil line on a white sheet.
Amsterdam Drawing 2015 put out a very good product and exposed an interesting array of new artists, illustrators and galleries.
But, more importantly, this visit has led to the cancellation of my (partly) unfounded injury: art fairs are not so bad.
Or maybe it’s Amsterdam’s influence that makes everything more beautiful.