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An overview of the best showcases at the Enter Art Fair 2023 in Copenhagen
Enter Art Fair held its fifth edition at the Lokomotivværkstedet in Copenhagen this year
Image: Julie Nymann and Frida Gregersen

An overview of the best showcases at the Enter Art Fair 2023 in Copenhagen

STIR presents highlights of Enter Art Fair's fifth-anniversary edition which unveiled a multifaceted world of creativity, connecting art enthusiasts across continents.

by Zeynep Rekkali Jensen
Published on : Sep 01, 2023

Copenhagen's art scene bore witness to a bustling effect last week with two art fairs and more than ten gallery openings. One of the most noteworthy events was Enter Art Fair, Scandinavia's largest international art fair, which held its fifth-year anniversary from August 24 - 27, 2023. Founded in 2019 by Julie Leopold Alf, this four-day extravaganza has rapidly evolved into a global nexus of creative and commercial exchange, attracting art connoisseurs, collectors, dealers, and enthusiasts from the world over.

Bringing together 88 of the world's preeminent galleries (each hailing from 22 countries and 36 fairs), Enter Art Fair has emerged as a platform of global significance that seamlessly marries contemporary art's cutting-edge visions with a dynamic commerce space. Within this vibrant tapestry, visitors can immerse themselves in a diverse array of disciplines, from traditional paintings and sculptures to the avant-garde realms of ceramics, glass, NFTs, and digital art.

For its fifth edition, Enter Art Fair chose the historic Lokomotivværkstedet in Copenhagen, Denmark, as its venue, a more creatively inspired location renowned for its industrial architecture and iconic green hue.

What genuinely sets the art fair apart for gallerists, is their distinct VIP program, turning the encounter into a tailor-made voyage of exploration for discerning collectors hailing from the Nordic region and beyond. This exclusive offering includes carefully curated exhibition previews, engaging artist discussions, museum tours, dinners, and thoughtfully designed and curated events. It motivates collectors to journey to Copenhagen, enabling them to carry out the fundamental objective valued by galleries—acquiring artworks.

Against the backdrop of Lokomotivværkstedet's industrial history, attendees traversed through a visual and intellectual landscape that celebrated the multifaceted fabric of human ingenuity. Below, STIR curates a selection of standout booths at the Enter Art Fair 2023.

von Bartha, Basel and Copenhagen

von Bartha showcased an impressive array of artworks by various esteemed artists. Of prominence was the monumental sculpture '240.5˚ Arc x 6' by Bernar Venet, a grand corten steel piece of large-scale art that both mesmerised and captivated with its imposing dimensions and unmistakable artistic style. Commendation is due to the gallery for their resolute commitment towards overcoming logistical challenges to bring this four-meter diameter sculpture onto the fairgrounds, offering attendees a rare opportunity to witness a Venet masterpiece outside the confines of a museum setting.

Adding to the showcase's allure was the presence of the 'Sunset Placebo' wall lights conceived by Boris Rebetez. Handcrafted from powder-coated metal, plexiglass, and coloured film, these pieces artfully created the illusion of a romantic sunset. This clever integration of design within an established art gallery context was a notable highlight, signalling the gallery's willingness to explore the realms of collectible design alongside their established artistic pursuits.

Schwarz Contemporary, Berlin

Under the leadership of Anne Schwarz, Schwarz Contemporary curated a compelling display at this year's Enter Art Fair, exemplifying the gallery's dedication towards showcasing a diverse range of artists whose works span both thematic and material boundaries. Finnish artist Aki Turunen's works immediately ensnared the audience from a distance, drawing them in with their vivid hues and dynamic brushwork. Turunen's artistic creations are a harmonious amalgamation of intuitive, subconscious imagery, and a deep-rooted awareness of art history. Notably, Turunen's explorations are anchored in his affinity for history and tradition, a sentiment that echoes through his choice of materials and the thematic elements he embraces. Turunen's pieces transported viewers into a realm reminiscent of medieval fairy tales, where history and imagination intertwined seamlessly.

Another artist that captured attention was Lisa Tiemann and her 'Couples' sculptures. Born in Kassel in 1981, and currently based in Berlin, Tiemann is a sculptor known for her compelling works that possess a unique ability to stretch, bend, arch, and interact with their surroundings, observers, and each other. Initiated in 2016, her ongoing series, 'Couples,' delves into the interplay between two elements of varying materialities.

This exploration goes deep into the intricate realms of material properties, stability, and gravity, resulting in sculptural forms that challenge our perceptions of connection. Tiemann's creations are inherently defined by fractures, gaps, and shifts, all of which contribute to her interpretation of unity as a complex interplay of elements. One of Tiemann's sculptures could also be admired in the entrance garden of the fairgrounds, serving as a captivating preview of her artistic prowess.

Galleri Maria Friis, Copenhagen

In the trajectory of its ongoing expansion and evolution, the international art event unveiled a dedicated 'Young Section' this year, an emblematic step that cast a spotlight on 18 galleries with five or fewer years of business. This strategic initiative serves to amplify the voices of emerging artists and their distinct perspectives. Among these promising galleries, Galleri Maria Friis stands out, having recently commemorated its one-year anniversary. Founded by Maria Friis, a lauded collector and venerated member of the Copenhagen art community, the gallery has swiftly garnered attention from major Nordic museums since its inception.

At Enter Art Fair 2023, Galleri Maria Friis chose to showcase an exquisite synergy of works, masterfully curated to complement one another, most notably, paintings by Hungarian artist Orsolya Bagala and bronze sculptures by Sian Kristoffersen.

Bagala's showcased paintings were reunited from her exhibition titled Oh girl - it will not last, which the gallery presented in November 2022. In her distinctive style, Bagala captures countless women's visages with meticulous brushstrokes. The diluted acrylic paint, when juxtaposed with the white watercolour paper, exhibits a captivating interplay of density and translucence. The medium takes on a life of its own, sometimes pooling and being absorbed, while simultaneously, resembling delicate, transparent skin. The colour palette, often composed of shades of brown, red, and pink, mimics the hues of flesh, blood, and wounds, lending a visceral intensity to her creations.

Meanwhile, Kristoffersen approaches her art with a remarkable diversity of materials. Her works emanate a dynamic interplay between pathos and nonchalance, where each individual element is infused with a palpable sense of substance and materiality. A distinctive aspect of Kristoffersen's approach is her propensity to invert the beautiful, exposing its eventual decay. These works carry echoes of Greek antiquity, contemporary iconography, and a sense of the uncanny, manifested through sci-fi aesthetics and neo-baroque imagery.

Galleri Nicolai Wallner, Copenhagen

Galleri Nicolai Wallner's presence at Enter Art Fair 2023 was marked by an array of remarkable artworks, with Maja Malou Lyse's sculpture 'Sex is not a natural act' stealing the spotlight. A social media favourite, the sculpture became a popular photo spot. Lyse's work thoughtfully challenges the norms of identification, objectification, and desire aesthetics, shedding light on the intricacies of representation politics and power dynamics in our image-saturated world. This thought-provoking piece sparked broader conversations on imagery's influence on behaviour and self-perception, cleverly drawing from pop culture and visual platforms' iconography to convey messages with a touch of humour and satire.

The booth also featured a wall of 14 unique drawings by David Shrigley, each priced between €8,100 and €8,500 excluding VAT. Renowned for his honesty and humour, Shrigley works primarily with drawing, sculpture, art installation, and animation. His signature blend of text and figurative imagery creates chaotic yet colourful works that delve into the banalities of daily life. Through poignant and sarcastic lenses, Shrigley explores our shared fears, hopes, insecurities, and the myriad facets of mundane reality. His art serves as a reminder of our shared humanity, eloquently capturing what binds us all together.

THK Gallery, Cape Town

A dynamic contemporary art space in Cape Town, South Africa, and a complementary experimental venue in Cologne, Germany, the THK Gallery was founded in 2018 by German photographer and collector Frank Schönau, along with auctioneer Linda Pyke.

Their spotlight at the art festival this year centred on the burgeoning fascination with Modernist aesthetics and forms. Modernism, often associated with Western origins, has a robust African influence, with 'tribal masks exerting a profound impact, particularly in the early 20th century. This embrace of Modernism by young African artists was examined through a lens of both, reconnection to the source and reclamation of artistic heritage. It resonated deeply with their South African perspectives and experiences, while simultaneously engaging with the Western historical canon.

Lulama Wolf's coveted paintings garnered attention at the THK booth. Hailing from South Africa and based in Johannesburg, Wolf's work merges Neo-Expressionism and Modern African Art. She delves into the pre-colonial African experience through a contemporary eyes, employing techniques such as smearing and scraping, reminiscent of vernacular architecture. Drawing from patterns traditionally used in adorning African homes, her art embodies her spirit and explores themes of blackness, identity, and heritage. Wolf's creations are a testament to her intuitive process, where abstraction, curiosity, and mythology converge, expressing her yearning for clarity while celebrating her heritage with textured subtlety.

During the art fair, Wolf presented a parallel exhibition at V1's Eighteen Gallery in Copenhagen, titled Intaka Yakha Ngoboya Benya, a Xhosa proverb signifying communal efforts. The art exhibition interlaced Wolf's paintings with modernist sculptures from the estate of Sonia Ferlov, a Danish sculptor, and the wife of Ernest Mancoba, a prominent South African Modernist painter who lived in Denmark during Apartheid. This dialogue underscored shared narratives and connections across continents, presenting a harmonious interplay between diverse artistic legacies.

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