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artrepublic visits the Royal Academy Original Print Fair

It was a joy and privilege to attend and we wanted to bring you some of the highlights.

The 2019 London Original Print Fair gives visitors the opportunity to engage with and buy original prints spanning five centuries. From Picasso to Grayson Perry, there was something for everyone. On the day, we saw some of our favourite featured artists from the Brighton gallery and some of their new original work.

Following on from ‘Present Sense’, his three-year long collaboration with the Royal Academy, Michael Craig-Martin’s work made a welcome appearance at this year’s Original Print Fair. His fixation on ordinary objects stabilises his use of eclectic, often highly saturated colours.  He elevates what is usually considered the mundane, providing an outline or a particular angle in order to play around with perspective and detail. Most of the objects that he has featured in his works have gone out of fashion or production since. At first glance his work might seem simplistic, but Craig-Martin provides an important social commentary on the rapid rate that we consume items. By encapsulating an aspect of our present in art, we can see how quickly an everyday object becomes a relic of design history. His cool, minimalist style puts all of the emphasis on the interpretation of the viewer and our own personal nostalgia. Disconnected yet profound, simplistic yet vivid, Craig-Martin has redefined abstract-minimalism for modern times.

Legendary pop culture artist Peter Blake’s most recent prints were also on display on the day. His collection, ‘Reclaimed Icons’ celebrates an often-overlooked aspect of popular culture: the circus. Taking inspiration from vintage circus advertisements, Blake plays with the traditional to produce something much more decadent. Embellishing with metallic glitters and stunningly vibrant inks, Blake breathes a new life into what used to be images seen everyday. His trademark fascination with nostalgia is given a new avenue to explore within this series. The pieces feature clowns, flamenco dancers, pin-ups and more. Harking back to the entertainment culture of another era, Blake effortlessly evokes our own personal memories of childhood without being sentimental. The pieces are how we’d like to remember the circus, the glittering gorgeousness and majestic performances. Signed by Blake, from a limited edition, these pieces are a delightful blast from a nearly-forgotten past.

artrepublic were delighted to find Bruce McLean’s works on the day too. His instantly recognisable dynamic style combines the luminosity of colour with the unpredictability of his shapes. The resulting compositions are bold, expressive and vibrant. McLean’s work demonstrates how his style is in a constant state of flux. There’s a restlessness to his pieces, as black ‘scribbles’ cut through the prints, that indicate his desire to challenge the concepts around what defines ‘art’. The layering of textures and colours demonstrate the spontaneity within his creative process, the evolving nature of his works. Giving the pieces a sense of movement and fun, crucial within McLean’s work. What marks him as one of the key contemporary artists of our times is the energy that he permeates throughout his works, which are electrifying displays of his anti-establishment creativity.

Last but definitely not least, we saw some of print legend David Shrigley’s work. Shrigley’s style is often unnervingly childlike, as it simultaneously celebrates and satirises aspects of everyday adult life. The imperfections within his works, the wobbly letters, the unevenly hand-painted words, give his pieces a sense of openness and intimacy. ‘Its All Your Fault’ features a huge hand pointing directly at the viewer. Whether we’re thinking about that time we forgot to turn the oven off, or about our shambolic government, we can’t help but be charmed by his playful provocativeness.

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