Masterpiece is one of London’s unmissable art fairs. This is a melting pot where visitors can view and buy the finest works of art, design, furniture and jewellery from antiquity to the present day. The fair offers an unparalleled opportunity for new and established collectors to discover exceptional works for sale, from international exhibitors spanning every major market discipline. Masterpiece always delivers on a Meta Insta entrance. This year’s showcase was A Beautiful Despair (2022) by the Pakistani-American artist Anila Quayyum: playfully casting sacred, geometric shadows out of illuminated sculptures made from laser-cut lacquered steel, onto primary red and yellow walls, like giant magic lanterns.
“In a world where difference and divergence dominate most conversations about the intersection of cultures, my artworks explore the harmonies without ignoring the shadows, ambiguities and dark spaces between them.”
We would find this idea teased out later on at the fair’s new [Re]discovery platform: AVOIDING OBLIVION The Preservation of Pharaonic Knowledge, created by Factum Foundation & Skene Catling de la Peña. Uncovering things hidden or preserved in dark spaces thus emerged as the fair’s overarching theme, so here is a list of our TOP TEN Treasures from Masterpiece 2022:
This show-stopping Masterpiece at Piano Nobile is one of the best examples of why Frank Auerbach is considered the greatest living painter in London today. Boldly harmonious, his lively impression of The Tree Opposite captures something essential about the places we love the most – nature’s quiet, seasonal resilience.
Also looming seductively out of the shadows were a set of Homage Bowls, hand-carved in horse chestnut burr, cherry and oak wood by Eleanor Lakelin at the Sarah Myerscough – always consistent in curating a masterpiece booth.
By mysterious contrast was a presentation of time-pressed objects so ancient that they looked like they had arrived from the future. Art Ancient dedicated their Masterpiece to the strange phenomenon of the Gogotte – natural sculptures unearthed in the prehistoric dunes near Fontainebleau and charmingly named after a Bar Bar character.
[Re]discovery is a new platform at Masterpiece that explores how culture is continually rediscovered, reinterpreted and re-appropriated by successive generations. For example, on the 100th anniversary of the discovery of the tomb of Tutankhamun, Factum Foundation, in collaboration with Skene Catling de la Peña, created a time capsule that traces how Ancient Egypt has captured the public imagination for over five hundred years. Embedding the plan of Tutankhamun’s tomb within a larger labyrinth, visitors travel from the Renaissance to the Romantics through colonial discovery and scientific excavation to the future and virtual or augmented experience. “It also leads us to question what we – individually and collectively – are doing during our lives and how we will be perceived and remembered after we are gone,” said Factum Founder Adam Lowe. Poignant, given the untimely passing of Philip Hewat-Jaboor, the art collector, consultant and chairman of Masterpiece.
Treasures of the smaller variety are in abundance at Masterpiece, but Didier Ltd. stood out for both presentation and substance – if you are going to invest in a Masterpiece, why not wear it? Indeed, in these strange times, having a portable prize is worth more than its weight in gold is the way to go… Artlyst will be doing a full-length piece on this story!
For the stunning curation of artists, artworks from alternative histories of art and culture, artists included the first African American to be exhibited at MOMA, William Edmondson; the self-taught Czech artist who drew, shaded and stitched spiritualist botany into being, Anna Zemankova; and the Ukrainian artist who explored folkloric themes and inspired Jackson Pollock with her innovative technique of dripping paint onto canvas from above.
Artlyst favourite Charlie Smith London, exhibiting this year, by invitation, with Patrick Heide Contemporary Art, was celebrating a run on artist Melissa Kime – Flesh To Touch, Flesh To Burn! Don’t Keep the May Day Queen Awaiting – who now has a waitlist on the following five paintings.
Oli Kellett, showing with HackelBury Fine Art, is an artist who understands what it means to wait for the light to shine in dark places. Unfortunately, his Cross Road Blues (Hubbard St, Chicago), 2017(Pigment-based Inkjet Print) only has 1 edition remaining. We also loved the series of works in Sumi Ink on art history book pages by Coral Woodbury, elegantly recovering the past for women in art.
Words/Photos Nico Kos Earle Top Photo: P C Robinson © Artlyst