Art lovers descend on Town Hall for annual fair

ART lovers flocked to Oxford’s Town Hall last weekend for the fifth annual Oxford International Art Fair.

Thousands descended on the free event between Friday and Sunday which brought together ‘the most innovative new work from established and emerging artists and galleries’.

There were works from some 26 countries and a wide range of styles and genres.

Both novice and seasoned art collectors were able to peruse collections, talk to the artists and get pieces specially commissioned.

Among the highlights there was Oxford’s very own watercolour abstract artist Jenny Bowden who showed off her ‘messy hallucinations’ of the dreaming spires.

Bulgarian artist Radi Nedelchev, meanwhile, exhibited his paintings in the ‘naïve art’ style.

Fair organiser Joëlle Dinnage, who hosts and curates the annual event together with her business partner Natal Vallvé from The Global Art Agency praised the event and said it was the bespoke quality that attracted visitors.

She said: “This bustling art fair gives art collectors and enthusiasts a great opportunity to get their hands on art, buying directly from the artist who has travelled all the way to Oxford to show and sell their unique pieces.

“We’ve carefully selected the artists and galleries showing their work, so that only the most innovative and thought-provoking contemporary art is shown at the fair.

“We have added exclusive events like the VIP sneak preview on the opening night and the chance to vote for the best work on show, adding up to a really special experience for the visitor and indeed the exhibitor.

“With the beautiful town hall making up the backdrop to the event, it really is a fantastic chance to witness some of the most impressive art close up, meet the artists behind it and enjoy a truly inspirational day out.”

One of the host of exhibitors, Wei Zheng, flew in from New York for the show along with her abstract canvases, and her teddy bear.

The 19-year old said: “I’m an art student in New York but I thought I should come over to Oxford to show my work at the fair.

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THE OIAF Best artist awards

In third place, the panel (Richard Knight - Ex-Chairman Christie's Auction House, Esther Lafferty - Artweeks Organiser, Kieran Stiles - Art Tutor) chose Scottish artist John Ryan for his bright and evocative landscapes, rich with vibrant colours and warmth, as if packed with memories of holidays, of times past and futures promised. John has been a regular exhibitor with Oxford international art fair since it began five years ago so we’re very pleased to see his work commended by the judges.

Second place was awarded to Kristjana Williams an Icelandic born artist who creates delicate fine art pieces from digitally collaging many wonderful detailed elements from the natural world, both flora and fauna. Her collection on show at the IOAF included intricate multi-layered 3D paper cuts, traditional maps with nature overlaid from which you find it hard to tear your eyes, prints of city-skylines and even some contemporary portraiture, all in her signature style.

And the winner of this years OIAF was Bogdan Mihai Radu, a Romanian artist whose works spoke volumes at the entrance to the show. On an immense scale that’s immersive, Bogdan’s abstracted expressionism is bold and striking, dense with mood and emotion telling a story of his life, a traumatic episode and a challenging psychological state with which Bogdan worked through in these paintings. ‘I cannot live without painting,’ says Bogdan, ‘because it’s only when I paint that I feel truly alive.’ He is thrilled to have won this award.  

Bogdan Mihai Radu

Bogdan Mihai Radu

The fair is expected to return next year.