Returning to the Saatchi Gallery this September, START Art Fair is set to build on last year’s success with 56 galleries from around the world participating. For some artists taking part, this will be their first experience of showing in a contemporary, museum quality space. Bringing both new art scenes and emerging artists together is the perfect way to get a snapshot of today’s international art world, says START’s director, Niru Ratnam.
Contemporary art has become very much an international set of dialogues between emerging and more established art markets, with artists making and showing both locally and in some cases worldwide. Thus, to analyse and assess the true state of global contemporary art would involve a huge amount of travelling and research. START takes away this daunting prospect by bringing together young gallerists from around the world, displaying a wide range of international art under one roof.
START features galleries from cities as far afield as New York, Seoul, Cape Town, Bogota, Hong Kong, Riga, Hanoi and Budapest.
One of the potential pitfalls of the expansion of the art world, as expressed by some critics, is the potential for increasing homogeneity in the art being produced globally, so that much contemporary art might begin to look the same whether it was made in London or Seoul. What START demonstrates is that this is far from being the case. Instead, while contemporary art often uses a shared language, it is filled with local nuances and responses to specific, regional contexts and influences. Teasing out these differences is one of the most interesting things about walking around START.
Along with new art scenes, START focuses on ‘emerging artists’, which can refer to artists who are in the early stages of their career, such as Sarah Choo Jing (showing with A.I. from London) or Emily Noelle Lambert (showing with Denny Gallery from New York). However, it is important to recognise that it can also refer to artists who are at a later stage of their career, who have a local following of collectors yet remain relatively unknown in the country or region in which they live. An artist like Pala Pothupitye (showing with Hempel Galleries from Colombo) is such an artist. He is one of Sri Lanka’s most renowned contemporary artists but is largely unknown outside of South Asia.
This year, START also features four curated sections under the umbrella of START Projects. The Japanese collective ChimPom has its first London solo show, the result of the group winning Emerging Artist of the Year at the Prudential Eye Awards that took place in January 2015 in Singapore. A second project is called ‘This Is Tomorrow’ and features solo exhibitions focusing on artists whose work attempts to tread new ground either through their subject matter, the way they work or the context in which they practice. A number of artists in this section address issues around identity and representation, including Namsa Leuba (showing with Art Twenty One from Lagos) and Aida Silvestri (showing with Roman Road from London).
A second Japanese collective, teamLab, are debuting in London at START Projects with a fully immersive installation that takes over one of the double-height rooms of the Saatchi Gallery. Finally, the Prudential Eye Zone features an overview of recent art from Singapore.
Some of the artists in this edition of START could well go on to become major international figures, and some of the galleries could become fixtures at the established international art fairs. A number of the artists and gallerists who were in the inaugural edition of START are now well along the route to greater recognition. To that end, START will continue to act as a catalyst for the careers of the participating artists as well as their gallerists. Moreover, it offers London’s collectors, critics, curators and art-viewers an early opportunity to discover more about them.
START, PRESENTED BY PRUDENTIAL , RUNS FROM 10 TO 13 SEPTEMBER 2015.