Love Art Fair poses big questions for Toronto collectors
Love Art Fair is back in Toronto for its second year at the Direct Energy Centre. The Toronto re-branding of The Affordable Art Fair, which has spread worldwide since launching in London in the '90s, features works all priced in the $100 - $10,000 range, making it attractive to new and casual collectors, as well as lovers of exciting emerging art. Or so one would expect.
Over 40 galleries from 10 countries are exhibiting at Love Art this year, but apart from Julia Callon's diorama and photographs of disarray in miniature, it all felt too familiar, and not in that "glad to see you again, meaningful culture" sort of way.
While it was nice to re-visit the work of Alison Milne Gallery's Maureen O'Connor, who has exhibited in Toronto recently, for any happy sighting the array of ridiculously commercial offerings overwhelms the viewer on the hunt for novel and challenging work.
From a glossy, dresser-sized image of mannequin heads with text superimposed ("feels like a Monday") to variously sized sculptures of half eaten apples to one reflective (literally - perfect for selfies!) graphic reading "ONLY BAD WITCHES ARE UGLY," what's on offer this year is mainly consumables that would be more at home at a craft show or design expo.
Toronto's art buying market just might not be strong enough to attract galleries showing affordable work by emerging artists who show promise and produce interesting and searching work worthy of collecting early.
This city has a vibrant art scene full of young, intelligent and questioning artists. And while conceptual work is always a difficult sell, this is a fair that dramatizes a problem that defines commercial art sales in general. How is it possible to make challenging work attractive to those who aren't solely interested in collecting blue chip names, who want to display work in their living space that's both appealing and important at once?
I don't want to claim that this year's Love Art will only please a certain section of Toronto art lovers, and I don't want to call this certain section the condo crowd. But if much of the product on display this week at the fair has any place in time, it will be as a splash, and an shallow one at that.
Love Art Fair runs at the the Direct Energy Centre from April 17-19.
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