Fairs Market United Kingdom

Pavilion is calm, but will there be a storm?

Dealers at PAD-London optimistic as they watch Frieze Masters closely

Danful Yang with her piece Angels or Devils, at Pearl Lam Design

As the sixth edition of the Pavilion of Art and Design (PAD) fair in London opened to VIPs on Monday, one question was politely being avoided: how would it fare against the new contender, Frieze Masters? While many appeared to be embracing the market’s current “the more the merrier” attitude, others were waiting to see how the situation unfolds.

“I think we’re all just speculating about the impact Frieze Masters will have,” says Bethanie Brady of the New York-based Paul Kasmin Gallery (also showing at Frieze London). “The fairs present works in different contexts, so there’s a chance to show the same artists in different ways.”

Only two of the event’s regular exhibitors, the Sladmore Gallery and Faggionato Fine Art gallery, decided to show at Frieze Masters instead. Meanwhile, the US galleries L&M Arts, Paul Kasmin Gallery, Castelli and Skarstedt Gallery were among those joining PAD for the first time this year. China’s Pearl Lam Design has returned for the first time since 2007.

The fairs share a vision of mixing objects from different periods and genres. At PAD, this has consistently resulted in elegant stands, often evoking luxurious interiors, and this year proves no different. With a nod to the vogue for “cross-collecting” (a catch-all phrase for collecting across periods, and across fine and decorative art), the Luxembourg & Dayan gallery has mounted an eye-catching stand of glittering “Panda” paintings by the US artist Rob Pruitt alongside Chinese archaeological objects. “It doesn’t matter when something was made—it’s about the quality of the piece,” Daniella Luxembourg says. The gallery had sold “more than one” of the paintings, priced at around $120,000, by the end of the VIP evening.

A key attraction of the fair is its ­inclusion of design. Frieze Masters focuses on “fine art”, which, for many of PAD’s exhibitors, is less appealing. “We like the way you can mix up art with design; we’re hoping it may introduce us to designers we don’t normally meet,” says Barbara Bertozzi Castelli of the New York-based Castelli Gallery. “Frieze London has always been ‘cutting edge’, which we’re not, and Masters sounds a bit older than what we show—so this seemed right for us.” The gallery is showing works priced from $100,000 to $1.5m, including Roy Lichtenstein’s “Brushstroke Chair and Ottoman”, 1988. Korea’s Gallery Seomi also joins the fair this year, displaying an edition of Kang Myungsun’s “Mermaid Bench” (number two of six), 2011.

Nevertheless, others are more direct about the impact Frieze Masters could have. “It is competition; there’s no point mincing words about it,” says Mitchell Anderson of the Zurich-based Galerie Gmurzynska (also showing at Masters). The pace of sales had certainly changed, with dealers reporting that people were waiting to see what was at Frieze Masters before committing. “People want to survey all the material available first,” says Anderson, who, nevertheless, says there was “serious interest” in a pair of paintings by Kurt Schwitters, priced at “around £1m”. The stand belonging to Paris’s Galerie du Passage also proved popular, with “a few” of its seven tapestries designed by Alexander Calder in the 1970s selling for £12,000 each.

“It’s early days, but I’d say it’s the same collectors who are normally here,” Lucy Mitchell-Innes says. The Israeli art collector Jose Mugrabi signed an autograph for Rob Pruitt, the collector and jeweller Laurence Graff was spotted eyeing up a table and Lady Victoria de Rothschild, Anish Kapoor and Kay Saatchi were among those at the VIP evening. “The opening was as steady and relaxed as always,” Luxembourg says.

Whether this is a temporary calm remains to be seen. But during its opening days, at least, the fair seems to be confident in what it does best.

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