As the world economy titters back and forth with inflation and rising interest rates plus the possibility of heading into a recession you might think art dealers are nervous that the art collectors and the public might be shy about buying art. Not so. The dealers I talked with in their booths were very positive. The VIP preview had kicked off with a number of sales. Daniel Faria of the Daniel Faria Gallery was pleased as were other gallery directors. Things had started off well. Gone was the expensive Gala that had been catered and been a fun event. It was cash bar and no food. People still dressed up and more importantly bought art.
Daniel Faria of the Daniel Faria Gallery, Toronto
Clint Roenisch Gallery, Toronto
Many of the galleries I stopped in to chat with had been going to the Fair for years, some even like Bau- Xi, since the beginning. So, sales must have brought them back. Deborah Carver of Studio 21 Fine Art out of Halifax said that this Fair for her was the place to make connections, meet collectors and get noticed. The Art Gallery of Hamilton was there to help remind people what a great Gallery it is. They were pretty excited about an exhibition coming up by artist Shelley Niro to be displayed there before going to the National Gallery.
Deborah Carver of Studio 21 Fine Art from Halifax
Bau-XI Gallery, Toronto with Kathryn MacNaughton, HOOPLA, acrylic on canvas
There were several Montreal galleries that had returned as well as galleries from Calgary and Vancouver. I chatted with Michael Klein of MKG127, a Toronto gallery, and he said he had one of his best years last year even with the pandemic. Burke Patterson, founder and Creative Director of United Contemporary was pleased with the beginning of the Fair as was gallery director Melanie Trojkovic.
Michael Klein of MKG127, Toronto
Burke Patterson, founder and Creative Director of United Contemporary (right) and gallery director Melanie Trojkovic (left)
Niki Dracos of General Hardware Contemporary (Parkdale) said they had sold several works already. Daniel Ainsley of the Sandra Ainsley Gallery was busy chatting with the public.
Niki Dracos of General Hardware Contemporary, Toronto
Daniel Ainsley of the Sandra Ainsley Gallery, Toronto
Some dealers said they were happy with the overall content of the fair and thought that the quality of work was perhaps stronger than some other years. I met Axel Pairon of the Axel Pairon Gallery from Belgium who said it is their third year and though the Fair had just opened the day before they had a few sales. It was tricky trying to talk with some dealers who were busy talking with clients.
Axel Pairon of the Axel Pairon Gallery with his wife from Belgium
The Fair offers several tours by different curators and lots of panel talks by art experts to complete its programming. There are several installations and sculptures spread through out the Fair as well. I talked with Mykola Zhuravel of Withrow Common Gallery, Toronto about his installation The Broadcasting. Both he and his wife are from Kiev in the Ukraine and he explained the significance of the video that the robotic figure was watching; it was a Russian broadcast from 2014 that talked about invading Ukraine.
Mykola Zhuravel’s installation, The Broadcasting, Withrow Common Gallery, Toronto
Daria Tischenko-Zhuravel in front of her work, UNITED WE STAND
This year’s Fair was refreshing just for the fact that you didn’t feel you had to wear a mask. There was a great mix of works to explore throughout the Fair and Director Mia Nielsen and her team have done another great job. The quality of works was worth the visit and for some fortunate collectors they will find a new home.
Text and photo: Phil Anderson