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Latin American and European artists placed in dialogue as part of Art Projects at London Art Fair
Frances Wilks, Helmet, 2018. Acrylic on canvas, 100 x 80 cms. New Art Projects.

LONDON.- Art Projects returns to London Art Fair 2019 (16 - 20 January), offering a platform for emerging galleries to showcase the freshest contemporary art from across the globe. Now in its 15th edition, the section will bring together 33 galleries from 11 countries showcasing the most stimulating and innovative contemporary art practice today. Included in Art Projects are six unique collaborations, known as Dialogues, with pairs of galleries invited to display their artists in conversation with each other.

This year’s Art Projects will feature a number of solo presentations of both emerging and established artists including Chinese-born artist Xiao-yang Li at narrative projects ahead of her first solo museum exhibition at Mexico’s Museo Leonora Carrington in January 2019. Li will be presenting a new body of work in which she studies the relationship between space and surface through a series of ceramic sculptures that echo and reinterpret the subjects found in her paintings. Ed Cross Fine Art will dedicate their stand to British artist Kimathi Donkor, whose large, figurative oil paintings have been exhibited in museums and galleries across the UK and internationally. Winner of Chiara Williams Contemporary’s Solo Award ™ for 2019, Yoon Ilkwon utilises printmaking techniques to explore notions of permanence, memory and value, often inspired by his own childhood memories.

Several presentations in Art Projects will address the theme of national and cultural identity. ARTCO Gallery will stage a group exhibition of three artists born in Africa whose work explores the economic plight of the majority of children on the continent. Raphael Adjetey Mayne’s work combines traditional influences from his homeland of Ghana with contemporary portraiture, bringing a rich patchwork of African materials to the canvas, while Kenyan-born artist and graphic designer Evans Mbugua fuses a creative medley of colour and print detail captured in portraiture. Burkina Faso-born photographer and painter, Saidou Dicko, creates similarly evocative scenes about everyday life. Elsewhere, within their exhibition dedicated to four women artists, New Art Projects will show paintings by Lindo Khandela, whose bold and unapologetic themes are heavily influenced by her South African heritage.

A number of exhibitors provide social commentary on contemporary politics and global conflict. Brocket London will present the work of Roshna Qorbanee and Armand Voyeux, two artists of different sex and generation whose childhood narratives have informed their work as response to historic conflict. Meanwhile, Shtager Gallery will display an installation by seminal Russian interdisciplinary artist Alexander Shishkin-Hokusai drawing on the influence of Brecht to de-mask the theatralised world of politics. AUROOM ART will feature a body of works collectively named Battle for The Square, created by Kazakhstani artist Said Atabekov, who draws attention to contemporary issues like nationalism, migration and capitalism.

Art Projects also showcases exciting new approaches to contemporary art practice through artists using novel and unconventional mediums. An installation of burnt wooden objects bearing symbolic meaning, by Lithuanian artist Česlovas Lukenskas, will be shown at Meno Parkas, alongside the work of Povilas Ramanauskas, who tests the limits of contemporary painting. Russian artist Ilya Fedotov-Fedorov, presented at Fragment Gallery, uses objects found in nature such as rocks, bones and butterfly cocoons to create his work, demonstrating how nature can become a universal language. Also expanding our traditional understanding of the artistic discipline is Dutch artist Simone Albers, presented at Art Gallery 0-68. Albers is fascinated by the evolution of the cosmos and the complexity of existence. Using natural scientific research and philosophical theories, she investigates the mechanisms hidden behind the directly perceptible world, seeking to understand this complexity.

A major feature of Art Projects is Dialogues, which invites pairs of galleries to create a shared presentation, encouraging inventive collaborations and new relationships. This year, for its 6th edition, Dialogues is curated by Kiki Mazzucchelli, an independent curator and writer based in São Paulo and London, and focuses on the various correspondences between the work of contemporary artists from Latin America and Europe through a series of international collaborations between six pairs of galleries.

The re-evaluation of hegemonic art historical narratives has been at the forefront of art historical debates in the past two decades. In this context, the legacy of Latin American avant-gardes has gained unprecedented recognition, with artists such as Héilo Oiticica, Lygia Clark and Cildo Meireles from Brazil having had a major influence on the work of emerging artists worldwide.

Featuring works by a younger generation of artists from the region, alongside international names, Dialogues highlights their shared interest in a wide variety of issues that include, amongst others, the subversion of Modernist canons and the innovative approach to painting by female artists on both sides of the Atlantic.

Domobaal (UK) will focus on a selection of works by contemporary artists who subvert the language of Abstract Modernism. The presentation will include Nicky Hirst’s ‘domestic abstraction’ pieces and a mural painting by German artist Lothar Götz, specially commissioned for Dialogues, and will incorporate elements drawn from Bauhaus and De Stijl, Brazilian late-avant garde movements that established the vocabulary of geometric abstraction as one of the country’s most significant influences. Galerie Emmanuel Hervé (France) will bring together works by Ana Mazzei and Sérgio Sister, Brazilian artists from different generations who expand the vocabulary of Concrete and Neoconcrete art into the present day.

Anima Mundi (UK) will feature a solo presentation by London-based painter Rebecca Harper, whose often large-scale, figurative works combine fiction, memory and observation to create plausible scenarios that constitute a record of everyday life in a cosmopolitan urban setting. At Square Art Projects (UK), an artist-run curatorial project based in London with an international presence, London-based Brazilian painter Goia Mujalli’s works will offer a counterpoint to Harper’s focus on social life. Her often abstract, multi-layered paintings borrow their motifs from the lush nature of her hometown Rio de Janeiro to explore ideas around cultural identity through the use of colour, mark-making, movement, transparency and erasure.

The theme of new perspectives on painting by female artists continues at Cob Gallery (UK), who will be coalescing a dual presentation by Katja Angeli and Alba Hodsoll. Angeli draws on the tradition of collage within a digital context to create ambiguous, quasi-abstract compositions that suggest the movement of non-gendered bodies in space. Sexuality is at the forefront of Hodsoll’s works in paint and ink, where crisp lines and restrained colour palettes combine with the negative space of the canvas to produce a distinctive vision of feminine physicality. Kubik Gallery (Portugal) will show a selection of portrait paintings by Ana Prata and sculptures by Felipe Cohen. Both these Brazilian artists are interested in exploring and subverting the conventions of their mediums of choice.

Maddox Arts (UK) will show London-based Venezuelan painter Augusto Villalba, whose abstract works on paper result from a technique of employing found objects to apply layers of paint onto the surface. The gallery will also present works by Dionisio Gonzalez (Spain), whose digitally-created photographs depict impossible architectures featuring imagined futuristic buildings and renderings of unbuilt projects with a hyperrealist effect. Rolf Art (Argentina) will feature a solo presentation of Marcelo Brodsky who – in contrast with Gonzalez – employs archival photography to create his work. In his ongoing series ‘1968 – The Fire of Ideas’, Brodsky has conducted extensive research on photographic documentation of political movements around the globe, appropriating and intervening on these images with texts and colour.

(S)ITOR (France) hosts a solo presentation of Cuban artist Jesse A. Fernandez (1925-1986). Most widely known for this photographic portraits of renowned artists and writers, Fernandez also produced a series of drawings which will be included in the stand. The gallery will also present a photographic dialogue between his portraits of iconic artists and his documentation of Palermo mummies, evoking the theme of artistic im(mortality). The surrealistic undertones of these images (also evoked in the portraits of Marcel Duchamp and Wilfredo Lam) are echoed in the work of writer and artist Teresa Balté, to be shown at Perve Galeria (Portugal), whose intuitive drawings and paintings brings together freely associated and seemingly disparate images.

Lamb Arts (UK/Brazil) will bring together a selection of works by young painters from the Americas – including Mattea Perrotta (US), Tomaz Rosa (Brazil), and Tiago Tebet (Brazil) – shown alongside sculptures by Peruvian-American artist Patricia Camet. In her work, LA-based Perrotta creates abstract forms that are rendered in rough textures associated with masculinity to produce soft biomorphic forms suggestive of femininity. Rosa, on the other hand, is interested in subverting the modernist tropes of painting to explore different styles and methodologies. Casanova (Brazil) will present sculptural works by Chilean artist Ignacio Gatica, whose aesthetics simultaneously evoke pre-Columbian artifacts and Minimalist art objects imbued with signs of consumerist culture. The gallery also features a new series of drawings by Brazilian born Lina Kim, referencing the idea of ornament in modern architecture.

The Art Projects Artist Award, sponsored by De’Longhi, is an annual prize awarded to an artist on the merit of their practice and work on display within Art Projects. The winner of the Award can be drawn from the main strand or from Dialogues, and will receive a prize of £2500 to help them further develop their careers. The 2019 winner will be announced at the Fair on Tuesday 15 January. They will be chosen by a panel comprising Jo Baring, Director of the Ingram Collection of Modern British and Contemporary Art, Alistair Hicks, writer and curator, Cherie Federico, director of Aesthetica and Francesca Gavin, writer and curator.

‘Afrofuturisms Past’ curated by Pryle Behrman

The release in 2018 of Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther has provoked renewed interest in the cultural aesthetic of Afrofuturism and, in particular, the way that its history within experimental filmmaking over the past fifty years has laid the groundwork for both the critical and (importantly, in the field of counter-cultural movements) commercial success of the film.

Focusing on key works from the 1970s onwards from Africa and the African Diaspora, the films on display in the Art Projects Screening Room explore the past experiences and future possibilities of African communities through alternate and imagined realities. The programme introduces the many different creative reinterpretations of science fiction, documentary, historical fiction, fantasy, straight drama and magic realism that are a feature of Afrofuturism’s innovative nature, and which have ensured its continuing influence.

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