The Sunday Art Fair had its VIP opening this afternoon, and the atmosphere was about as laid back as the day it’s named after. Held in a three-story-high cement bunker near the Baker Street Underground station, Sunday, now in its seventh year, hosted 25 galleries from around the world, and offered a respite from the one-two punch of Frieze London and Frieze Masters down the street.
The floorplan was refreshingly booth-less, mostly open air. There were no crowds, and no freeding frenzy like you’d see at the opening of NADA, the Art Basel Miami Beach satellite fair, or Liste, the Art Basel satellite fair in Basel, Switzerland. Perhaps the work that best summed up the feel of the proceedings was a Neil Raitt installation at the Anat Ebgi booth: a gigantic cactus wearing a lampshade as a hat.
“Everyone’s really, really nice here,” said Shirley Morales, the founder of ltd, the Los Angeles gallery showing at the fair for the first time. She was showing work by Anja Salonen—a large self-portrait had been sold minutes into the fair, for $5,000, and a another painting, also for $5,000, was on reserve. To make matters even more charming, Salonen was on hand, just hanging out. (In fact, many of the artists being exhibited were on hand, which is rare even for smaller fair. A nice touch!)
The atmosphere seemed suited for some world-class collectors who might have been turned off by the slick and blustery Frieze London down the street. For instance, Lenore and Herbert Schorr—the earliest and most devoted collectors of work by Jean-Michel Basquiat—came by and bought a $9,000 work by Strauss Bourque-LaFrance at the Rachel Uffner Gallery booth.
“It was the first work they bought in London,” Uffner said.
“We had a lot of really strong proposals this year—solo booths, mixed booths, a lot of video work,” he said. “It’s the second year we’ve organized it, and I’m really excited.”
A few steps away, Milan’s Brand New Gallery was showing work by Josh Reames, who indeed was at the fair. Gone during the VIP preview was a painting for £6,650, and a sculpture for $4,000.
“It’s the first sculpture he’s ever made,” said the gallery’s Giulio Cattaneo.
And what of that cactus with a lampshade on its head? Well, it beckoned fairgoers into the Anat Ebgi booth, which was a shack constructed on a pile of beach sand. Hanging on the shack’s walls were some of Raitt’s paintings, priced at $4,500, $11,000, and $16,000. They are some mellow landscapes that gallery representative Ines Cardoso said were inspired by painter/TVhost Bob Ross.
“He’s riffing on the idea of the Sunday fair, and relaxation,” she said
How did collectors respond to this unbridled embrace of being extremely chill? Everything in the booth was sold or on reserve.