It’s fair to say that this year’s Manchester Contemporary Art Fair has certainly been a success for PAPER. Looking bright and inviting, the yellow-walled space (Yellow Cake, courtesy of Farrow & Ball) stood out as the kind of room anyone would want to sit down and relax in. As a result, there was a constant flow of visitors, passing through to admire the work of PAPER’s artists. In fact, the micro-gallery was also particularly successful when it came to selling artwork, partly due to the beautiful framing and easily approachable display. With the author’s name, titles and prices displayed by the artworks, visitors could easily identify their favourite pieces for sale.
Significantly, the process of choosing and organising the artwork for display is a lot more complex than it could seem. Naturally, for PAPER choosing the wall colour was a quick and simple decision – it fits perfectly with the gallery’s ‘design colours’ and the ethos of creating a comfortable environment. Painting the middle wall yellow was also a way of breaking down the white-cube space, and putting something of a more domestic atmosphere in its place. On a purely aesthetic level it worked well as most of the works were on paper and with a combination of coloured and monochromatic pieces, an offset of colour was clearly suitable. Most importantly, there had to be a dialogue between the works, a consistent, logical arrangement, that would take into consideration both the artists’ intentions and curatorial decisions. The heavier, darker pieces had to be exhibited alongside the more ephemeral, subtle-toned works. It’s safe to say that the sheer number of visitors and positive feedback was a testament to the impressive overall effect.
The atmosphere of the fair itself encouraged a sort of quieter contemplation of the artwork, as opposed to events such as private views, where the work itself is of secondary importance and socialising becomes a priority. Of course, all questions and discussion were welcome by the artists and gallery owners, and for many it was a chance to share views and exchange secrets about selling art. Perhaps the most refreshing thing about Manchester Contemporary in general, was that it is of course a fair – a market of readily available art, which could be bought on the spot and, size and weight permitting, taken home straight away. This cancelled out all speculation about prices and worth, and the unattainability of ‘real’ art for personal use The result was quite simply a wonderful weekend, spent in the company of fellow artists, writers, curators and everyone who shares a genuine passion for art. Big thanks to everyone who came!
By Maja Lorkowska