oxford art fair 2018

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.

Chinese American artist Wei Zheng delves deeply into her complex mind of absurdity. OIAF 2018 Exhibitor

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Wei V. Zheng born: Indiana USA, living in New York City. 

With guidance from Chinese contemporary artist Sun Liangang, the young and emerging Chinese American artist Wei Zheng delves deeply into her complex mind of absurdity and creates simplistic-like paintings each with intimate and memorable meanings. Try and locate yet understand where the artist is coming from with her ideas and thoughts.

Can you tell us what your 'Before I Die' is…?

  • Before I die, I want to travel the world and visit galleries and museums with my pal Brent the bear.

Best Commissioned artwork ever done was…?

  • When I was in elementary school, I drew and designed a Hello Kitty at the Taj Mahal, and one of my peers offered me $5 USD and a carton of strawberry milk for it.

Which are your favorite artists…?

  • This may sound cliche, but I really enjoy Rene Magritte and Vincent van Gogh since they’re known for their styles. Not only that, I wholeheartedly admire Amedeo Modigliani and Carolee Schneemann because I’ve seen their works in museums and was publicly seen as a sobbing mess.

Best exhibition ever participated in…?

  • The best exhibition I’ve ever participated in was in my parents’ living room. Actually, I still have ongoing exhibitions there...almost all of my works are still on display.

What makes your art different than others…?

  • My art uses unfamiliar materials like my tears.

Instagram: wavyweiv

Yasmine Badawi "I like to paint which enables me to create my own world to get lost in" OIAF 2018 EXHIBITOR

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Yasmine Badawi was born in Aberdeen, Scotland in 2001, and is currently studying at the Anglo-American school of Moscow, Russia. Growing up in many different countries, her interactions with different cultures grew tremendously making her want to explore and make something out of herself. She has always been fascinated by art but never really knew until an art store opened up near her house from which she decided to buy a few blank canvases and see what happens. This led to her discovering her passion, mainly in painting and she then started creating many artworks. Being a self-taught Egyptian artist, a year later, she started exploring the idea of marketing her work and getting feedback in order to understand what her passion can lead to. Then came her first month-long exhibition in Cairo, Egypt in order to raise awareness to two cancer hospitals and a heart institute. In that same month, she donated an interactive artwork to children from the children’s cancer hospital and spent the day coloring that big drawing with them. What she was extremely grateful for was her participation acceptance for the Oxford International Art Fair of 2018, as this has given her the opportunity to reach people internationally on a much bigger scale. She plans to major in Architecture at an art school in 2019 in order to start her career and still be connected to her passion.

What is your definition of art…?

Art is the ability to show the world what you can’t necessarily explain, and to help yourself when no one else can. It is not necessarily just a way to express oneself, but more a way to escape reality. Whether it is the art of writing, painting, photographing, singing, sculpting or other, it consumes the artist and takes them to another universe where only their work matters. Some people read to explore another world and forget about their own, or some people go for a walk to breathe some fresh air to calm down; I like to paint which enables me to create my own world to get lost in, my own vision of how things should be. Art has the ability to make us doubt the obvious and reality by recreating what we know to be true in another form. Yes, artists tend to reveal their emotions through the color schemes and the image itself, however sometimes what is more important is just the act of losing oneself in an action. When I paint, it is not to show others if I’m happy or sad, but it is to forget everything around me, which is why I would stay until 3 am painting and just forget the concept of sleep. Everything from my normal life would just disappear until I finished my piece. I put some music on, prepare everything and simply start drawing on a white canvas. Watching the before and after of it all provides such satisfaction that nothing else could replace. Even the simple feel of the paint on the paintbrush while mixing colors and the power to create different shades of color feels so surreal. That’s why I believe that there is so much more to art than people think.

Can you tell us what you have going on right now…?

As an IB student, I am lately focusing on creating new art and exploring different medias, however, the main difference is that I am finally starting to give more meaning to my work. The most meaningful piece I have is my tryptic called “Revealed”. During the process of painting it, I constantly kept modifying the final outcome in order to send a message to people who could relate. This is just an example of what I have been focusing on: giving a meaning to my work, letting my art speak to the audience and making it powerful.

Which are your favorite artists…?

Among my favorite artists is Banksy. Although I haven’t explored street art yet, his work inspires me the most. His dedication, his challenges, his goals and especially the messages that he conveys through his art are what I love most. Every time I have to deal with artist’s block, I think back to Banksy’s work and try to get inspired by finding something meaningful to me that I would like to stand up for. From there, I start brainstorming and my ideas come through. His work definitely affects mine and I’m even planning on working on a few pieces closer to his type of work and possibly more simplistic soon. Another artist would be Ganzeer. He’s an Egyptian street artist and graphic novelist. I admire his work and how he saw the Egyptian Revolution from 2011-2013 as an opportunity for his art. He inspires me to go after what I want no matter what and I love his view on street art. For him, it should be okay to express oneself publically instead of just framing certain works of art and leave them hidden behind walls in a museum. Street art is a way for people to communicate with each other anonymously and possibly create big things where people can complete each other’s work and making it bigger and better. I’d love to have the possibility to exhibit my work publically in Egypt like Banksy and Ganzeer, and make people reflect over it, possibly affecting their lives.

What is your biggest dream…?

My biggest dream is to be a mother opening her own art gallery. As a teenager, I’ve created this perfect image of what my dream life would be and I’ve already planned everything. I hope to grow up and work as an architect while always painting during my free time and to relax. I would then be a stay at home mom designing my own gallery. I’ve already thought of the layout, the function and the design of it all. I hope that no matter where life takes me, that I’ll at least be able to make that dream come true.

What makes your art different than others…?

I believe that what makes my art different is the fact that I’m still experimenting with different medias, different themes and haven’t just started a trend in my work with which I feel comfortable. This allows me to have the freedom to shape my work in any way I feel and to not be limited by what I have already done. Also, I don’t focus on the art market as much as some people do. I don’t think whether my art will please a certain audience, or if it fits some certain criteria which will make it sell as long as I personally like the outcome and the meaning. I have been focusing on the lack of perfection in art lately with my work like with my two paintings “Labelled” and “Hidden perfection”. The point is to expose how an artist feels after completing an artwork. Personally, there isn’t one painting of mine that I can look at without seeing a flaw. This is the concept that no art is perfect and that no matter what, we will never be able to please everyone because there will always be something wrong with it.

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