1-54 LIVENS UP LONDON.

By Nii B. Andrews.

The world’s most important CAA fair, the 1-54 founded by Touria El Glaoui, kicked into high gear starting last Thursday in London at Somerset House; it ended on October 10.

Even though this particular edition of 1-54 had been scaled back, there were still 29 galleries physically present with an additional eight present on the digital version that run in collaboration with Christies thus providing a crucial alternate access point.

Over 110 artists had their work on display.

The fair atmosphere was upbeat as VIPs arrived for the previews on Thursday with stringent pandemic safety protocols in place that were maintained throughout the four day event.


Eluwa ola tende, exuxua oda lila, no va Suomi oveya (It is the first grey of morning, the Roosters crowed, and the arrival of the Finnish): Tuli Mekondjo, Mixed Media on Canvas (photo transfer, collage, acrylic, millet grain and resin on canvas)70 9/10 × 27 3/5 in, 180 × 70 cm. 2020. Courtesy of Guns and Rain Gallery.

“I personally think that physical fairs are important for the role they play in helping collectors to discover new artists, which they can then buy online later on,” explained the founder and fair director, El Glaoui, to Artnet News.

“I think we will all be suffering if this is the last fair we can do until 2022,” she added, “we need to go as global as possible and also reach collectors that might feel shy about coming to the fair this year”.

The CAA market has doggedly persevered and maintained value even in the midst of a wider bear art market.


MAIR AT CYLCH MEITHRIN: Anya Paintsil; Acrylic, wool and synthetic hair on hessian. 106.68 x 91.44 cm. 2020. Courtesy Glynn Vivian Art Gallery and Ed Cross Fine Art.

It appears that the relatively more affordable price point for CAA has encouraged collectors to continue to participate while at the same time engaging young new buyers.

In parallel events that dovetailed with the fair, Bonhams and Sothebys both held successful CAA auctions.

With people forced to spend a lot more time at home while contemplating an uncertain future on account of the pandemic, it is reasonable to surmise that they are continously looking for a buzz of positive vibes hence the strong pull of the fair.

I’AM AFRAID I WON’T BE ABLE TO ATTEND THIS: Joana Choumali, mixed media, 80 x 80 cm. 2020 Courtesy Loft Art Gallery.

And of course, the 1-54 held at the various venues since its inception never fails to inform, entertain and inspire by highlighting the artistic renderings that have contributed to and continue to propel today’s boom in CAA.

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