Pauline Loeb at Photo London 2024 © artfairmag

Photo London celebrated its 9th edition this year, and its 2nd under the leadership of Kamiar Maleki, the former director of VOLTA. The fair couldn’t have found a better leader to elevate its standards, which had been lacking in quality and attendance in recent years. With great excitement, I stepped through the doors of the Somerset House, right in the heart of London.

As always in this legendary venue, one must arm oneself with a map to navigate the maze of corridors and rooms within the different wings of the building and the central tent. I started with the latter, the Pavilion, which housed the main section. Right away, I encountered the very open stand of the French gallery Nathalie Obadia, which featured, after a 4-year absence, a magnificent print by Andres Serrano and a portrait of a woman by Valérie Belin, the 2024 Master of Photography laureate. More of Belin’s works were exhibited in the basement, including ‘Carol,’ a portrait from the All Star series, blending photography and art.
Valérie Belin

Valérie Belin, Carol (All star series), 2016. Courtesy of the artist and Galerie Nathalie Obadia, Paris/Brussels

Staying with the French galleries, I was particularly impressed by the stand of Magnin-A and Binome, which had merged for the occasion. They presented ‘Being There,’ a project by two artists: Senegalese self-portraitist Omar Victor Diop and filmmaker Lee Shulman. Omar inserted himself into the anonymous slides from Lee’s collection, which primarily depict white American middle-class families from the 1950s and 60s. I found Omar’s presence—an uninvited guest smiling at a birthday table, on the beach, or in the middle of a barbecue—especially striking and moving. It felt as if Lee was rewriting a page of history.
Omar Victor Diop & Lee Shulman

Omar Victor Diop & Lee Shulman / The Anonymous Project, Being There, 2023. Presented by Magnin-A & Binome 

Another artist using overlays stood out at the Sundaram Tagore stand. Karen Knorr, a German-born American photographer who lives in London, creates whimsical scenes by placing animals in environments where they wouldn’t usually belong: opulent Indian or Italian palaces, luxurious American homes, museums, and more. Blending analog and digital photography, she has truly crafted her own unique signature. Her works are also offered at significant prices; one of her large formats at the stand was priced at £31,500.
Karen Knorr

Karen Knorr, presented by Sundaram Tagore. Pigment print on hahnemülhe fineart photo rag baryta, 2024.

The overall presentations in the Pavilion were quite impressive, albeit primarily focused on contemporary art. Niccolo Montesi’s CALPE series, presented by Bendana Pinel, caught the eye with its gold leaf accentuating vibrant geometric shapes. It was hard not to linger for a few moments in front of Jeffrey Blondes’ film at the GBS Fine Art stand, which showcased a view of Loch Wharral through the seasons, condensed into 48 hours. Lastly, the Istanbul-based contemporary art gallery Dirimart featured a marvelous solo show by Cihan Öncü, who photographs stunning still lifes with an intriguing play of shadows.
Dirimart’s booth at Photo London 2024 featuring Cihan Öncü © Dirimart
Finally, in the Discovery section, located in the basement of the main wing, Erika Deak Gallery featured a solo show by Hungarian artist Andi Galdi Vinko. She addresses societal and environmental issues with a quirky and playful tone. For this exhibition, Andi started with old photos she had taken but couldn’t connect to a series. She then enhanced them with drawings and texts, created by herself or her artist friend, Hin. For some pieces, she even involved her young daughter, adding a very touching element to the work.
Andi Gáldi Vinkó

Andi Gáldi Vinkó, No wifi, Ed. 1-1, 2023, giclée print Museum Fibre Matt archive paper, 51 x 42 cm © Arika Deak Gallery

Art Dealers Interviews

Since Andi was at the stand, I was delighted to speak directly with the artist—something rare—rather than the gallerist. I was curious to learn about her motivations and techniques. I also spoke with Philippe Bouté, director of Magnin-A gallery, about the collaboration between Omar Victor Diop and Lee Shulman. I interviewed Sundaram Tagore about Karen Knorr’s work and concluded with an enriching discussion with Mirjam Cavegn, founder of Bildhalle gallery, about the Indonesian roots of Ilona Langbroek, an influence clearly seen in her painting-like photographs.

Kamiar Maleki’s leadership has been the best thing to happen to Photo London in years. After a period of searching for its identity, the fair has truly found its footing under his guidance. This 9th edition not only showcased a stunning array of contemporary art but also revitalized the event, bringing a new level of quality and excitement that promises a bright future for Photo London.

Sum it up, I'm in a rush!

  • When? | May 16-19, 2024
  • Where? | London
  • Atmosphere | Good natured
  • Curator’s pick Magnin-A
  • Featured Gallery Gem | Bildhalle
  • Spotlighted Artists | Omar Vitor Diop & Lee Shulman, Karen Knorr, Ilona Langbroek
  • For Whom? | Young photography collectors

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