Today is the last day of the Oxford International Art Fair 2015 and, by the accounts of organisers and participating artists, it has been a great success.
There was a lot of talent packed into Oxford Town Hall at this year's fair. Work ranged in subject, size, medium and genre, giving potential buyers a huge amount of variety to consider. The atmosphere was lively and, as an upbeat swing band played onstage, I had the chance to peruse the works myself. Here's a small selection of my favourites:
Dale Grimshaw has been well known on the London Urban Art scene for a while now, and has enjoyed great success at his solo shows over the past five years. His style is described as distinctly direct and passionate, and his Artist Palette paintings are certainly no exception. Whilst the viewer comes for the novelty of the medium, s/he stays for the intensity of the portrait itself. In the case of Artist Palette #1 (pictured above), our stare is transfixed by the figure's shadowy blue eyes. Whilst the pursed lips of the sitter combined with the red flashes of the background suggest aggression, this sense is offset by the child-like softness of the figure's other features.
This sensation of softness dampening any threat is present throughout the series, and makes for an effective motif. Indeed, the medium and theme that these paintings share make them highly collectable; I expect this whole series might soon be snapped up by a single eagle-eyed buyer.
Upfest represented Dale Grimshaw at the Oxford International Art Fair 2015.
Susan Brooker's paintings look as if they were made to grab attention at an art fair. Big, bold and frequently containing iconic subject matter, her work is impossible to ignore. She has a real talent for finding the colour in shadow, and manages contrast beautifully.
Working with only oil paint and a palette knife, Brooker is able to pick out her subject's features in such a way that we are instantly aware of who we are looking at, as is the case in her painting Twiggy, pictured above and left. When promoting oneself as an artist, painting famous faces is always a good place to start (and indeed, to carry on with), as it shows your viewer that you have the ability to capture not only your subject's likeness, but also something of their character.
You can view more of Susan Brooker's wonderful work on her website.
South African artist Jane Digby was represented by Fillngdon Fine Art at the art fair and her work was, unsurprisingly, receiving a lot of interest. Digby prefers to work spontaneously and quickly which is reflected in her freely applied, loose brushstrokes.
Browsing through her gallery on the Fillingdon Fine Art website, I was particularly struck by the painting pictured right, Love. It seems to me that in Digby's case, the quicker-looking the sketch, the more earnest the expression of the outcome. The perfectly scruffy throwing together of colour and tone in this painting brings the emotion of the sitter to the fore. The viewer is forced to wonder at the reason for the figure's wide eyes and open mouth. The title of the work also effects our consideration, as we ponder whether the figure has just laid eyes upon someone or something that they love, or whether the title is in fact in reference to the artist's feelings towards the sitter.
Digby's ability to capture the emotion of a moment whilst masterfully avoiding over-working her enigmatic paintings is surely part of the reason that her work proved so popular at the art fair.
Naz Perver Weich
As a matter of personal taste I love this painting, Reader, by Naz Weich. I love the forms, the colours, the tones, everything. I see a portrait that is beginning to follow and elaborate upon recent geometric trends in graphic design and fashion, which I think is a great direction. Weich draws attention to the clean lines of the style in which she has painted the central figure by painting the women on the covers of the sitter's book in a more traditional mode, thus creating an excellent contrast. The way that the light softly falls upon the left side of the figure's face whilst also illuminating the crisp, white edges of her t-shirt allows the viewer to imagine the warmth and relaxation of the scene. As such, this work is simply a pleasure to look at.
There are a number of other beautiful works on Weich's website, so keep an eye out!
Everyone that I spoke during my visit to the art fair was incredibly friendly and, notably, every single artist seemed just really happy to be a part of such a great event. The Oxford International Art Fair is set to return to the Town Hall in February next year and I, for one, can't wait to see what it will bring.
What did you think of the artists mentioned here?
Who would you add to this list?
Let me know in the comments!