Four of the UK’s most renowned fine artists came together last week within the internationally famous Saatchi Gallery institution, during the most significant annual fixture of the arts calendar, Frieze week.
Photography: Noah Da Costa, Artists: Alexander de Cadenet, Beth Cullen-Kerridge
The StART Art Fair, known for exhibiting artists from around the world - this year featured its consistently broad spectrum of talents and works with this edition led by the impeccably accomplished quartet of Alexander de Cadenet, Beth Cullen-Kerridge, Fin DAC and Lauren Baker, presented by veteran London-based gallerists West Contemporary. Founded in 2014, this particular art fair (working internationally within the likes of Seoul and Cape Town) has established itself as one of the most exciting showcases of modern and contemporary art in the world, regularly being listed as a ‘must see’ of the art fair season. Still very young for an art fair, StART has emerged with the freshnes
s of an emerging fair yet an established reputation that belies its lack of years, making up for it in quality curation and the endorsement of host of internationally successful artists.
Specifically curated as a meeting of mixed media, each artist selected by West Contemporary to exhibit boasts a storied biography, with all four widely known and respected within the contemporary art scene. So, what is the story behind the renowned quartet?
Alexander de Cadenet, a working artist of several decades, achieved notable acclaim during one of the golden ages of British art as his formative artistic years came amidst the noise and notoriety of the 1990’s and the YBA’s (Young British Artists), with the artist then exhibiting to much interest whilst still a teenager. This period, most commonly associated with peers Damien Hirst and Tracey Emin, is an impossible to ignore chapter in recent global art history and offers an important inspiration to working artists of 2022. Art and legacy and how they work together is not a foreign concept to de Cadenet, and nor was it to the Medici family, the subjects of the artists’ work on display.
The Medici’s, a ruling Florence banking family and political dynasty that first gained prominence under Cosimo de' Medici during the first half of the 15th century, understood how to use art to create a story. In their case, this story was their own, as their commissioning and patronage of important artists of the day sought to thread together their own place and history and an immortalisation in the process. The Medici Family Skull Portraits (the artist’s fifth skulls portraits to date) is a new series of portraits of The Medici Family based on the photos of the skulls from the Medici Family tomb in Florence, taken by Professor Gena in 1947 when the Michelangelo tomb sculptures were removed for safekeeping during World War II. Subjects included the actual remains of Lorenzo the Magnificent, Cosimo the Elder, Cosimo I, Eleanor of Toledo and Giovanni di Bicci de Medici. The works, photographic prints on di-bond metal sheet each with painted quotes, provided one of the highlights of the exhibition.
An artist known on a global scale for his depictions of Eurasian women and inspired by traditional and ceremonial dressing. A consistent West Contemporary collaborator and actively plying his trade worldwide (including being the only artist to be commissioned by the Frida Kahlo foundation for his 200ft mural of the iconic Mexican artist in Guadalajara), Fin DAC is a self-taught, non-conformist urban artist who has defined and perfected an atypical spray paint style he has dubbed ‘Urban Aesthetics’. Through his work, the artist explores themes related to female emancipation and empowerment, readjusting the male gaze and disrupting colonialist attitudes particularly surrounding the Eastern experience. One of his original works on display nodded to the illustrious settings of the art fair, with a subject wearing a Vivienne Westwood inspired jacket, paying homage to Kings Road and Westwood’s first ever shop there.
Honoured with three spaces to exhibit was the irrepressible works of Lauren Baker, one of the UK (and indeed Europe’s) most highly regarded mixed media artists that in a short career has already featured at the V&A and the Tate. With a focus on environmental sustainability, Lauren is an Ambassador for One Tree Planted, as well as Save Wild Tigers, and has done multiple collaborations with Help Refugees. Her artwork has raised over £100,000 for charity, to date. Baker’s most intricate work, is a Steinway grand piano encrusted with half a million crystals. It would therefore be no surprise to see the artist’s choice of works being extensive and complex and including lenticulars, neons, hand-sewn sound-wave letters to nature and 2 x 2.5 metre tall ‘Earth Totems’ that are specifically climate positive. The artist choosing to explore ancient and contemporary symbolism - depicting our journey of climate change, using sustainable materials.
Beth Cullen-Kerridge is a highly known and appreciated sculptor, working mainly with bronze, stone and marble. The artist honed her craft working with and producing works for some of sculpture’s best known, including Edwardo Paolozzi, Elisabeth Frink and Alberto Giacometti, before becoming a studio assistant with Mike Bolus and then Sir Antony Caro. She has also impressively worked with Sir Norman Foster on the Millennium Bridge. This faultless grounding was clearly evidenced throughout the gallery space, with sculptures carefully curated throughout allowing guests the opportunity to walk amongst the creations. The collection on display was ‘Femella’, an exhibition with marble and bronze sculptures, celebrating how strong and great humans can be, despite the throws of the everyday.
To find out more about the artists and view their artwork, please click here.
Photography: Noah Da Costa
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