The Other Art Fair Opening Night, March 9
The Other Art Fair, presented by Saatchi Art, kicked off with a packed private view at the Old Truman Brewery Shoreditch, with gallerists and artists alike presenting eye-catching displays of work. We interviewed some of this year’s exciting crop of emerging and established homegrown and international artists about their work and what sets them apart from the other talent on show. Oh…and questions about the particular appeal of art fairs.
Latifah A. Stranack
My landscape paintings were inspired by Bathers by a River by Henri Matisse. I used that as a starting point to create my own series of works themed around the Garden of Eden, paradise from a female perspective and Eve’s story. The focus is usually Adam but as a woman I want to think about the narratives that affect my life, particuarly as regards the wider world, my body, how I am viewed and the politics of being a woman.
I also incorporated the green spaces around London. During the lockdown so much of our life was spent outside in nature because it was the only option available. It made me have a greater appreciation and understanding of where I live in Ealing. I used that landscape to inspire the work and also experiment with the colour palette. I started with acylic paints as the ground and layered it with oilbar, all the while thinking about texture and materiality.
I also have paintings inspired by Middle Eastern dance; so belly dancing and the hair-throwing dance. It’s just about the joy of life, feeling connected to that inner desire to just move and feel the rhythm. For me, dancing is a way of connecting to whatever is beyond this world, whether you believe in a higher power or not. It’s a way of celebrating my life, my female body and just being grateful for life.
Why an art fair?
I think it’s great to have this experience because it broadens your horizons. It gives you exposure and allows you to see your work in a different context because it’s a very different atmosphere compared to a gallery or studio and I think you just have more chance of having a natural dialogue with lots of random people that may have come to see other work. Also, The Other Art Fair has branding and a history of doing fairs all over the world so you’re tapping into a network. I think, as an artist, networking is so important for making contacts and getting to know different types of work. It’s just nice to see what else is going on in the art world in London, the UK and across Europe.
I am a self taught artist and I have been a full-time artist since 2017. I originally worked from Nigeria but moved to London in January last year. This is my first art fair in London and I have another at the end of the month.
Tell us about your work
I paint directly onto West African fabric because I am part Nigerian and Ghanian and the fabric draws on the cultures of both countries. I like to call myself a child of no tribe because I am from so many tribes – I can’t just name one. These tribes have different woven fabrics which feature in my artwork. I am working directly with a company who own dye pits in northern Nigeria
This body of work is a celebration of black love and the black family unit. We as Africans don’t always have that open expression of love. We know it’s there but it’s not overtly communicated. You know your parents, aunts and uncles love each other but you rarely see them embracing, holding hands or kissing.
I work from archival photographs sourced from family members. Often the photos are very old and a lot of the grain is lost so I had to piece them together and repurpose them. And I collect fabric from family members who have pass it down through the generations from grand parents and great-grand parents. Everything is directly handed down – from the photos to the fabric.
I have a background in graphic design but five years ago I decided to experiment with painting. There was a natural progression and I was soon creating work I’d like to see on my own walls – which is always a good sign. So I began to apply myself to my craft and creativity more seriously.
What inspired this body of work?
My art is inspired by Formula One racing and is called the Chicane Series. I began watching Formula 1: Drive to Surivive on Netflix, which is a behind-the-scenes Formula 1 documentary and I drew inspiration from different elements of this viewing experience. I wouldn’t say I am a Formula 1 fan – I was more inspired by the energy, power and movement of Formula 1. That is, the gestures and speed that can be expressively interpreted. I noticed that Australian racing driver Daniel Ricciardo is a really charismatc individual and comes across as a very cheerful personality. That’s where my colour palette comes from.