Chart Art Fair Kicks Off In Style in Copenhagen

The sun is out and Peaches is ready to go.

Douglas Coupland posters installed in Copenhagen. Photo courtesy CHART Art Fair

Chart Art Fair opens in Copenhagen today, comprising of thirty galleries from Demark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, and Iceland, which take over the the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts’ Kunsthal Charlottenborg. Since its inception four years ago, the fair has expanded and evolved in a number of ways, and in 2015, 13.000 visitors came to see the best of Nordic art.

Founded by five local galleries, the fair lacks booths; instead, it emphasizes the art by showing it in a gallery setting. In the time in between, participating gallerists are treated to a series of dinners and events, providing great networking opportunities for invited dealers, gallerists, collectors, and institutions.

Susanne Ottesen of Galleri Susanne Ottesen, one of the five founding galleries of the fair, who is chairperson of Chart Art Fair, explained to artnet News that this non-profit venture is more about attracting the international art world to the region than making money.

“We are five [galleries] who have built up the fair together and we wanted to bring energy into this part of Europe in a way that means we can present art and do business,” said Ottesen. “There are so many Scandinavian galleries presenting at great fairs all over the world and it’s always outside of our context, Chart is about bringing attention to Copenhagen.”

Bjorn Nørgaard<i>Pentagonum recpmciliavit in pila II</i> (2016) at Galleri Susanne Ottensen. Photo Chart Art Fair 2016 I Do Art Agency

Bjorn Nørgaard Pentagonum recpmciliavit in pila II (2016) at Galleri Susanne Ottensen. Photo courtesy Chart Art Fair 2016 I Do Art Agency

The fair is staged in scenic, central Charlottenborg at the Kunsthal, or art school, in the heart of the city. The museum setting allows the fair to adopt a different approach in terms of layout. Instead of booths, the galleries exhibit in the gallery space, clearly marked yet not physically divided. And this year’s fair sees the addition of an emerging design section, housed together with the art fair in the Kunsthal and neighboring Royal Academy.

The design and ideology of the fair allows for flexibility and collaboration, especially in the shape of Galerie Magnus Karlsson from Sweden and Galleri Bo Bjerggaard from Copenhagen who, on the morning of the fair, decided that their room didn’t look right and re-curated the works together as a joint show. Magnus Karlsson brought twelve sculptural work by twelve artists, including pieces by Roger Andersson, Mette Björnberg, Thomas Broomé, Marcel Dzama, and Kent Iwemyr, and Bo Bjerggaard brought a variety of paintings, including work by Daniel Richter, Tal R, and a Georg Baselitz work, which incidentally sold at the fair curators and museums preview last night.

Galleri Bo Bjerggaard and Galleri Magnus Karlsson. Photo courtesy Chart Art Fair 2016 I Do Art Agency

Although the quality of the works is very high, the prices are generally comparatively low. This, according to Ottesen, is to fit in with the low number of collectors in the region and to make the fair more inviting.

Alongside the usual suspects such as Marina Abramovic, Francesca Woodman, Andreas Gurksy, and Thomas Struth, many of the new works on view were specially commissioned for the fair. From works by emerging artists such as Nina Beier, brought by German-based gallery Croy Nielsen, to lesser-known artists such as Susanne Gottberg brought by Finnish gallery, Galerie Forsblom, which is now in its third year at Chart.

“We come here because the fair is well organized and the quality is good,” Forsblom director Kiira Miesmaa told artnet News. “We do a lot of fairs around the world, in the US, Europe and Asia, but we think it’s also important to be present at the Nordic Fairs in Nordic countries…”

Nina Beier at Croy Nielsen. Photo courtesy Chart Art Fair 2016 I Do Art Agency

Nina Beier at Croy Nielsen. Photo courtesy Chart Art Fair 2016 I Do Art Agency

Miesmaa also praised the atmosphere of the fair, putting it down to the fact it is organized by galleries for galleries.

Although only Nordic galleries—either in location or origin—are invited to Chart, fair director Simon Friese was keen to emphasize how much more international the fair is now than when it started four years ago. “The fair has changed radically in the last two years with a lot more people coming from outside the region,” Friese explained. “We invite the galleries and they bring their own selected collectors and we host them.” In 2015, the fair hosted 1,000 international guests, and that number will likely be repeated this year.

The fair is abuzz today, as collectors dart between Chart and the new Copenhagen art fair CODE. Later, the fair will kick off in earnest with an all-female musical line-up headlined by Berlin-based performance artist and musician, Peaches.

Friese says that the social side to the fair has been put together specifically to attract people from outside the art world with involvement of crossover artists such as Douglas Coupland, whose slogans appear all over Copenhagen, and Brian Eno, whose sonic installation is a highlight.

“The social program opens up the fair to a broader audience outside the traditional art world who might also want to buy art but would be more attracted by a great music or design program,” he explained. “So it adds to the vibe but also contributes to the commercial part of the fair.”

Whether this spirit of unity and openness translates into sales is yet to be seen but in terms of visitors the Chart is definitely off to a good start.

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