The 2017 Edition of START Art Fair Comes to London With a Focus on Asian Art

The boutique fair returns to the Saatchi Gallery this week, gathering 44 galleries from 25 countries.

START 2016. Photo: Luke Walker, courtesy START 2016.

The fourth edition of START art fair will take place this week across all three floors of the palatial Saatchi Gallery in Chelsea.

The boutique art fair has been showcasing innovative artwork and supporting developing art markets since its 2014 debut, and it has now cemented its position in the yearly art fair circuit, attracting a loyal set of international collectors.

Despite its location in London’s most affluent neighborhood, START isn’t the blue chip affair you might expect. Instead, the fair focuses on locating emerging art by early career or newly discovered artists from a range of international galleries and showcasing them in a museum setting.

For collectors, START is the place to go to ferret out new artists and identify the movements that are percolating in the art world. For emerging gallerists, it’s a springboard into the European art market. The fair offers a platform for galleries coming from countries that are under-represented in the art market, with exhibitors selected by a curatorial committee comprising the fair’s co-founders Serenella Ciclitira (Parallel Contemporary Art) and Nigel Hurst (Saatchi Gallery) as well as curatorial partners Mehta Bell Projects.

Fiona White, The Commuters (2017). Courtesy NG Art.

This year, the fair is welcoming 44 galleries from 25 countries that sweep across the globe from the US to Australia. One major highlight will be NG Art Gallery’s presentation of works by Fiona White, who is known for her portraits of characters inspired by global events and that reference history and racial politics. The works that will show at START depict characters from Mexico, Australia and the Americas alongside the collection created in response to President Trump’s plans for a border wall, titled Round Up (2016).

START Solo, formerly the fair’s This is Tomorrow section, will feature solo presentations from Indian artist Owais Husain; Paula Klien; and videos of works by Marcus Dove, made by a homemade missile launcher and smoke grenades.

This year’s section of commercial curated projects that examine upcoming art scenes will have a focus on nurturing Asian artistic talent. Presented by Mehta Bell Projects and the Global Eye Programme, START Projects will hone in on contemporary art practices in Vietnam and Korea through its Global Eye Program established by Parallel Contemporary Art. Among the highlights will be a presentation of video works by the Le Brothers, which examine the various divisions in the society of post-war Vietnam; Nguyen Van Du’s blood-and-watercolor paintings; and a live painting performance from Nguyen Tri Manh.

Le Brothers, The Game. Courtesy of the artists.

As part of the celebration of the UK/Korea Year of Culture, the projects will track the development of Korea’s art scene, showing soap sculptures and decorative objects by Meekyoung Shin, as well as Chan Hyo Bae’s photographic portraits that speak back to the Western notion of Orientalism by caricaturing British people in the garb of 16th and 17th century aristocrats.

Another highlight of the special projects will be a live performance by China’s Invisible Man, Liu Bolin. His first major UK performance presented by Mehta Bell Projects is titled The Disappearing Act, and recalls his Hiding in the City series. The artist will be painted in situ against a specially commissioned installation, gradually blending into the background until he becomes entirely invisible. The installation, created in collaboration with Brick Live, will be made entirely from Lego bricks based on a sunflower design created by the artist that at once references Van Gogh and the motif of the sunflower in Chinese culture.

Meanwhile, at this year’s START Solo, galleries include Miami’s Asian art specialist Art Lexing, exhibiting rising star Ye Hongxing from China; and Lagos’s Red Door Gallery, presenting a selection of artists who challenge stereotypical definitions of African Art.

“Every year START adapts to current climate of the art world and we are delighted to again present such a strong line-up of innovative galleries and artists for the fourth edition of START. I’m very confident that collectors, curators and critics will leave START having made significant discoveries of artists and gallerists,” said START co-founder Serenella Ciclitira.

See some of this year’s highlights below:

PeiHang Huang, The Boats And The Sea (2017). Courtesy of JingLü Gallery.

Ye Hongxing, Rolling No.6 (2017).

Owais Husain, Mythology of Choice (2016). Courtesy of the artist.

Nguyen Van Du, Slaughter House No.13 (2016). Courtesy of the artist.

Meekyoung Shin, Translation (1996 – ongoing). Courtesy the artist.

Marcus Dove, Two Birds and the Sun (2016). Courtesy the artist.

Liu Bolin, Hiding in the City – Switzerland Magazine Rack (2012). Courtesy the artist.

Liu Bolin, Hiding in the City – Sleeping Lion (2012). Courtesy the artist.

Lai Wei-Yu, Petit Romances (2014). Courtesy YIRI ARTS.

Johan Andersson, Toy Guns (2016). Courtesy Art Unified.

Fiona White, Pascal (2016). Courtesy NG Art Gallery.

Eric Lacombe, T0008 (2016). Courtesy of Gallery Oxholm.

Duy-Phuong, Holding Water, no.04 (2012). Courtesy the artist.

Bimbi Larraburu, Los demonios te están llamando (2015). Courtesy the artist.

START​ Art Fair ​2017 will run from September 14 to 17 at the Saatchi Gallery.

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