MovementsPeople 12-10-2017

13 Art Fair Urban Contemporary | A turning point for urban art?

Ahead of the opening of the first edition of “13 Art Fair Urban Contemporary” in Paris, there is still much debate surrounding the definition of “urban art”.

In a recent interview with Happening, Touria El Glaoui, founder of 1:54, spoke of the underrepresentation of artists from Africa at mainstream contemporary art fairs, and the same holds true for urban artists; in an ideal world, there would be no need for dedicated art fairs.

“We have a very different vision”, says auctioneer Arnaud Oliveux, who is also serving as advisor for “13 Art Fair Urban Contemporary”. “Today, the most interesting urban artists do not necessarily operate in urban environments, but they are able to establish a link between contemporary and street art”. The term “Urban Contemporary” was chosen to represent artists “who do not want their work to be associated with urban art interventions,  but wish to be recognized as an integrant part of the contemporary art world”.

A week ahead of FIAC, the new fair brings together some 20 exhibitors at Paris’ Cité de la Mode, and it is, in a way, a pilot edition: “Our location is not very big, and with the fair in its first edition, we have to take our chances” admits Oliveux. As for galleries, booths measuring between 20 and 40 square meters are offered for very reasonable prices.  


A bridge between contemporary art and street art

The idea behind the fair is to “explore this subculture in the British way, spanning areas as diverse as punk rock — think of artist Shepard Fairey — and pop surrealism. The fair will feature galleries showcasing works that respond to different influences, from street art to contemporary pop culture”. In what is an increasingly competitive and selective market, “13 Art Fair Urban Contemporary” will feature drawings starting from €300 - €400, whereas works by established artists such as Fairey are at around €80,000 each.

In line with the fair’s openness to all subcultures, “13 Art Fair” will feature “the trimestral magazine HEY !, dedicated to modern art and pop culture and covering underrepresented artistic scenes, going as far as tattoo culture”.


AVENUE DES ARTS — Low Bros - Trending — 70x50cm



Art on the outskirts

If we were to choose one word to describe “13 Art Fair”, “underground” would be the best. “This fair places itself within the field of pop culture and underground networks, far from the elitism of contemporary art. If things change, as they changed for Art Brut, these artists are, in a way, its heirs” explains Oliveux.

In a way, “13 Art Fair” aims to attract a wider audience, beyond the limits that urban art can sometimes impose on itself. “It’s a very varied scene; artists such as Sterling Ruby come from the graffiti world but today they are prominent figures within the contemporary arts scene. The photographs of Larry Clark, Harmony Korine, Dash Snow or Ed Templeton are an example of this; they all feed into an urban counter-culture, which has become an integral part of their practice”.


ART IN THE GAME Kan - Love To Protest


A call to action

When it comes to street and urban art, audiences are often looking for something more than merely decorative artworks. Some of the artists featured at 13 Art Fair, including Zevs or Invader, to cite just a couple, present more conceptual artworks, opening up a discourse on “the role of the graffiti artists in relation to institutional power at large, in the guise of artists such as Rammellzee or Dondi White, who are the most prominent on the market today”.


UNDERDOGS Shepard Fairey - Icon collage bottom 


GALERIE DA END - Paul Toupet - Blackblack 


STOLEN SPACE - Zest - Barane 1 


GALERIE DA END, Toshio Saeki - Sans titre



Among the other star artists on show at the fair — other than Shepard Fairey — are: D*Face, Swoon, Mu Pan, Paul Toupet and Pixel Pancho.




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