This year’s London Art Fair is set to build on last year’s 130 galleries and 20,000 attendees. It’s a fair that has stood out to us at Unit London over the past decade for catering to collectors of all levels and igniting creative exchange and collaboration. The London Art Fair celebrates heritage whilst also embracing change and disruption, for that reason Unit London has taken a brief look at four established artists that you’ll want to see this week.
David Surman (b. 1981)
Quappi’s Cats, 2018, oil on canvas
David Surman lives and works in London and is represented by Sim Smith gallery. He studied animation filmmaking at the Newport Film School and went on to complete a postgraduate degree in film studies at the University of Warwick. Now, Surman is very much a painter: he communicates with his audience through a language of pictographic motifs interspersed with occasional text. With this structure Surman muses on humanity’s tendency to project human experience onto the natural world. For example he takes a wry, often slightly pessimistic, look at our idolatrous relationship with domestic animals.
Ilona Szalay (b. 1975)
Catsuit, 2016, oil and resin on board
Beirut born Ilona Szalay studied English literature at Oxford before completing her MFA at Central St Martins in 2002. She is the winner of the Italian ORA Contemporary art prize, a finalist of the prestigious Threadneedle prize and has exhibited at the Royal Academy (she’s currently represented by Arusha gallery). Szalay uses a wide range of media: from canvas to tracing paper, LED light to glass, in order to create her poetic visual language. This is work that inhabits the liminal space between domination and submission, power and vulnerability; there’s little contrast between subject, material and technique, everything fits together in compositions that are perhaps more indebted to the literary arts than the visual.
Ishbel Myerscough (b. 1968)
Self Portrait in a Flower Dress, 2016, oil on canvas
Ishbel Myerscough studied at both the Glasgow School of Art and the Slade, she is also the winner of the 1995 National Portrait Gallery award. Myerscough’s portraiture is concerned with all kinds of facial marks, creases and blemishes. She examines and records these features, hoping to capture their ability to create an idea of individual character. Myerscough sees drawing as a primal universal language, drawings are identifiable to the individual, yet they’re also a double-sided page, at once a description of the subject and an illumination of the draftsman.
Alice Kettle (b. 1961)
Pause Head, 2013, stitching
Professor Alice Kettle needs little introduction, having been described by the Victoria and Albert museum as both ‘groundbreaking’ and ‘a pioneer’ Kettle is represented by Candida Stevens Gallery. As part of London Art Fair’s ‘Platform’ – a recently initiated section of the fair dedicated to a specific theme – Kettle will be central to this year’s show entitled Threading Forms. The vision for Threading Forms is to demonstrate the variation currently at play within fine art textiles; Kettle’s dynamic, colourful and arresting work uses both machine and hand stitching, combining the analogue and digital with assurance.