After a well-received debut last June, the second edition of SPARK Art Fair in Vienna (24-27 March) managed to be considered as a top art event and this is quite an achievement. The SPARK Art Fair has achieved this almost from a standing start. The takeover of the location of the traditional Viennacontemporary and the continuity in the person of director Renger van den Heuvel have certainly helped with this meteoric rise. The “spark” at art fair in Vienna has increased in the second attempt. After the premiere last June with 71 positions, the Viennese newcomer comes to a total of 88 individual presentations. The increase comes not only from Austria, but also top-class galleries from abroad.
The decisive factor, however, was probably the idea of equal solo presentations, which ensured equal conditions for all participants in an innovative stand architecture. A convincing concept and stand prices that are still very reasonable by international standards exert a great attraction not only on galleries. The individual presentations are popular with visitors because they offer the opportunity to delve deeper into a work. This distinguishes Spark from most other art fairs, where the main focus is often on ventriloquism from the respective gallery programs.
The combination appeals even to Art Basel attendees. The proportion of out-of-town galleries has risen disproportionately compared to the premiere. New participants are heavyweights such as Lelong, Paris / New York, Kamel Mennour, Paris / London or Dirimart, Istanbul.
So-called "blue chips" of internationally highly traded positions, however, are not to be found here. Current production dominates the offer. The format of the fair is particularly attractive for curators, on whom exhibitors build their hopes beyond the immediate turnover. For this is usually not guaranteed, especially for the galleries from out of town. As at most regional fairs, the local public in Vienna also prefers to buy from local galleries. The format of the fair is relying on the vision of curators and this year, one of the focuses is on female photography, visioned by Bettina Leidl, the initiator of the new PHOTO WIEN festival.
Among the most interesting female phopograhers presented is the Dutch photographic artist Margaret Lansink (b. 1961). With her concept of showing the betuy of the women body, Lansnik presents the aging female body being still neautifull, with a special technique of negatives on paper, where the female body appear like a shadow from behind a glass window. A beautiful concept showing that the female body can be admired in all ages.
"Who we are is often determined by our social environment and (family) history. How we build our self-esteem, often determines how we look to the outside world and how we react to the other and to the inevitable changes in live. In her work, Lansink explores these relationships, trying to bridge the personal and universal, and often inspired by Japanese philosophies such as ‘wabi-sabi’ (the beauty of the imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete) and ‘ma’ (a concept on empty space). The way she photographs is purely intuitive; her images present an open and honest reflection of her own inner emotions at a certain time, space and interaction. Shot as self-portraits in the broadest sense of the word. With this intuitive way of photography she invites the viewer to embark on a journey through his-her own intricate web of memories, emotions, expectations, fears and desires. Giving the images the freedom to act as an overflow from reality to dream and vice versa. Lansink uses various mainly analogue cameras to capture the different atmospheres of her inner emotions." says about her the IBASHO Gallery from Antwerp, Belgium that is representing the artist.
Another eminent female phopograper is Anastasia Samoylova. Represented by the Gallery Sabrina Amrani, based in Madrid, Spain. French of Algerian origin, Sabrina Amrani was raised in a mix of cultures, traditions and habits that are common grounds to most artists she works with. The gallery represents artists across East and West, eliminating cultural gaps and promoting a dialogue exchange and intellectual growth through it.
Anastasia Samoylova (b. 1984, Moscow; lives in Miami, USA) moves between observational photography, studio practice and installation.Her work explores and evidence the complex relationship between the nature and human society. Samoylova’s photography plays around the collective memories and the narratives of geography. Last year, the Museum Le Locle, MBAL - Switzerland commissionned the artist with a new installation for the museum’s facade, from the series "Landscape Sublime". Anastasia has two ongoing solo shows: at The Chrysler Museum of Art, Norfolk, USA, at the History Miami Museum. She is also part of the Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize exhibition, in London. In 2020 she had her first solo museum exhibition at the USF Contemporary Art Museum, Tampa, FL, USA with her acclaimed project FloodZone, awarded several times. We highlight her current project Image Cities, awarded with the first edition of the KBr Photo Award, to be presented for the first time this summer. Her works are in prominent collections as the Perez Art Museum, Miami, the Chicago Museum of Contemporary Photography, Art Slant Collection, Paris, France, the Aksenov Foundation, Russia and the Deutsche Börse Collection, Nederland, to name a few.
Among the most eminent contemporary art presentations were the artist showcased by the Viennese Gallery Ernst Hilger, represented on the platform ArtWizard. At the SPARK Art Fair, the Hilger Gallery shows the art of Jakob Kirchmayr.
Born into the third generation of a family of artists in 1975, Jakob Kirchmayr explored the fields of drawing, before developing his own style and unique expression as a painter. After graduating from the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna, he established his own studio in the fourth district, a melting pot of the city‘s fine art galleries, artists and the creative scene of the city. Starting out with figurative painting in his earlier work, Kirchmayr re- veals an astonishing understanding of the human condition. Major shifts and transformations in his life, induced a radical change in his approach and his style boldly evolved towards abstraction and a new freedom ofex- pression in recent years.
Inspired by lyrical texts, his visually compelling compositions are filled with layers of meaning. Handwritten quotes appear like hidden messages in his art, inviting the audience to discover them at a second glance. Evolving from landscape, Kirchmayr‘s latest work is mostly liberated from an obvious subject. Going further, the artist doesn’t just use landscapes as metaphors for and projections of his own experiences, his various topographies are portraits of collective memories that evoke an emotional response in the viewer. The artist‘s sensibility towards the haptic quality of his materials becomes apparent in his monumental works on paper and canvas. Building layer upon layer of colour and texture, Kirchmayr rejects working with preliminary sketches. Thus, his paintings are filled with the strongest vitality, as the artist follows his impulses with a dynamic and spontaneous way of painting.