Head of Serapis / 2nd Century AD / Marble
The good thing about being near London is the easy access to local and international events held in different venues within the city. I’ll never get tired of London. Rain or shine, whatever the season in a year is, London is always alive. Tourists and business visitors never cease to come and go. Its captivating beauty draws you in and inspires you but on the other hand it has its dark and brutal sides too. Its great history and rich culture still fascinates me to this day. Many reputable publications rank this city as one of the top 10 ‘most cultured cities in the world’. It is a proud home to hundreds of great art museums and art galleries, theaters, concert halls and world heritage sites. It is the center of power and money and known for hosting international trade and public events, including cultural events like art fairs. This year, the Masterpiece kicked off during the end of June to first week of July. This is my first visit in this particular event.
The work of Marina Abramovic welcomed visitors at the entrance of the hall. Marina is a performance artist from Belgrade, the capital city of Serbia. She is a recipient of the Golden Lion Award for Best Artist at the Venice Biennale in 1997. Here’s more about this talented artist who’s art performances are quite extreme.
The spacious hallways were designed in an elegant and minimalist presentation; a kind of ‘less is more’ line of thought. There were about 160 participating galleries from around the world, spread neatly across the spacious exhibition halls. The grand and vetted exhibits ranged from collections of the finest work of the masters as well as contemporary artworks and selected high-end furniture and artistically designed jewellery to match the concept.
Few of the many exhibits that caught my eyes
Albinia Bertie (1738-1816)
She was an 18th century British celebrity, which later on became the Countess of Buckinghamshire in England in 1793. The artist’s use of light on her face, neck and left hand and skirt draws attention. The dark background highlighted the portrait even more. It looked alive, neat and elegant. Painted in c.1748 and framed in a carved and gilt English rococo […“Late Baroque”; an exuberantly decorative 18th-century European style which was the final expression of the baroque movement.]
Portrait of Albinia Bertie by Thomas Hudson / Oil on canvas / Richard Green Gallery, London
I find this exhibit a truly unique and almost magical. It is an intricate work of a Berlin-based artist whom, according to an article, doesn’t want to be identified of her race and origin. She just wanted to be called an artist. Here she used red yarn to symbolize human brain; an interesting presentation of what looks to me like a topsy-turvy brain. Her other works are equally enchanting or mystical, almost analogous to a ‘paranormal world’. I’m not certain whether paranormal world actually exists but you get the idea.
‘Uncertain Journey’ /Chicharu Siota / presented by Blain Southern Gallery (London and Berlin)
Relational Painting No.63 by Fritz Glarner (1899-1972) / Oil on canvas, 1953
Torso of Hercules
My naive understanding of art makes it difficult for me to write what my heart and mind are saying about something beautiful, mysterious and impressive, like this sculpture here. I wish I could translate into words in a more articulate way how I truly feel about something rare, masterly and skillfully done. In short words, this sculpture is ‘magnum opus est artis arcana in via!
Roman Marble Torso of Hercules / Roman 1st – 2nd Century AD / Galerie Chenel, France
Statue of the God Mars / Roman 1st – 2nd Century AD / Marble / H: 182cm / by Galerie Chenel (France)
These giant glass pebbles looked like human hearts covered in blood. One of these is enough accent to brighten up a room dominated by light or neutral colors scheme. A quite impressive 19th Century glass work. I’ve never seen anything like this before, they are unique. The more I look at it the more I get fascinated.
Glass Pebbles / Michael Petry B.1960 / from Joshua D’s Wall collection, 2012 / Hand-blown Murano glass from Murano, Italy
‘Ca’ d’ Oro’ (Peruvian, 1837-1927)
This is my favourite landscape painting of an artist from Peru. My mobile phone photo does not give justice to this masterpiece. The actual version looked so perfectly well-defined even to the tiniest detail of the objects. Its sharp and clear details even to the tiniest lines and curves make the landscape look alive. The light and the delicate texture of the composition is true to all of the collections of this academic artist that I have seen at the fair. Lavoro excellente!
‘Ca’ d’ Oro’ by Federico del Campo (Peruvian, 1837-1927) / Oil on canvas / Macconnal-Mason Gallery, London
Here is an impressive bronze sculpture by an Italian artist, whose works are mostly intended for the outdoors. I find this piece unique. For more of his works please check here at the Fondazion Arnaldo Pomodoro located in Milan.
Disco in forma di rosa del deserto , 2006 / by Arnaldo Pomodoro
Art Through Exquisite Jewellry
One of the jewellery exhibitors was a lady from Taiwan, Cindy Chao. Her minimalist and elegant exhibition stand was fully guarded. Visitors were strictly prohibited to take photos of her exhibits. Because of that, the photo here is not mine. I have seen and admired the actual pieces at the fair; they looked delicate, artistically-crafted and luxurious; they are truly beautiful! Each pairs were securely displayed inside a locked glass cabinet. Each display cabinet has a guard standing right beside it. It is amazing how this artist/jeweller goes to such extent to protect the image of her brand. I don’t blame her. Her works have similarity to the designs of Diana Zhang; a HongKong-based jeweller. I have seen Diana’s impressive pieces in HongKong Tatler magazine that I’ve purchased at Hong Kong airport last year. Both of these lady jewelers have very unique and exquisite collections and both are notorious in protecting their brands. Diana won’t design for just anyone who can afford her merchandise; you have to have the right personality to match her jewelleries.
The Royal Hospital Chelsea London is a short walk from Sloane Square station, passing through one of the finest neighborhoods in the city, lined with impressive terracota-red apartments on both sides of Lower Sloane Street (A3216). It was a pleasure walk for me; occasionally glancing at the architectural grandeur of the residential buildings. This is Chelsea after all. From the Barrack Gate, there were golf buggies waiting to take visitors right outside the South Grounds entrance of the fair. I don’t play golf, so it was my first time to ride a golf buggy cart :-). Simple pleasure like this is worth appreciating too!
South Grounds, The Royal Hospital Chelsea, London, SW3 4LW
Lower Sloane Street, London
There were guards at the entrance and exit of the premises. Bags were inspected on the way in and on the way out.
The exhibition staff
The staff at the exhibition are not only well-dressed and smart, you will also find them knowledgeable and helpful in giving more information about their exhibits. I spoke to few of them and I must say I learned more about the artwork and the artist from talking to them than just reading the tags.
Food at the fair
The fair organizers commissioned excellent food caterers. Even a simple looking Portuguese custard tart was amazing; the best version I’ve ever had!
“Visitors to Masterpiece London are able to enjoy informal dining at The Mount Street Deli, a full à la carte menu at Le Caprice and The Ivy Bar, and dine in one of two Scott’s Seafood & Champagne Bars elevating the pop-up concept to another level.” – Urban Caprice
As an art admirer; the fair was worth a visit. It was both educational and entertaining. I left the fair feeling elated; my artistic curiosities have been satisfied. It gives a pleasure of having the rare privilege of seeing, admiring and learning about the excellent works of art of highly-skilled people from the past and of today.
“The object of art is not to reproduce reality, but to create a reality of the same intensity.”
– Alberto Giacometti –
Souvenir photo of my first visit at the Masterpiece London, July 2018.