As founder and CEO of the Affordable Art Fair, Will Ramsay constantly searches for fresh and yet-to-be-recognized talent in the art world. His international fairs have attracted 2.1 million visitors who have subsequently purchased $408 million worth of contemporary art. Don’t let those numbers intimidate you, though; as the name suggests, Affordable Art Fair offers works within a very reasonable range of around $100 to a ceiling price of $10,000. If you’d like to avoid the scoffs and glares shot at you from behind the half moon glasses of a fine art historian because you pronounced the ‘t’ in ‘Basquiat,’ Affordable Art Fair (and Will’s Art Warehouse—the gallery that served as the inspiration behind AAF) is the place for you.
With the 2017 Affordable Art Fair NYC coming up in September, we want to be sure that you know which artists to keep an eye on when you’re shopping for a new piece to add to your collection. For this week’s installment of “Summer Series Favorites,” we are excited to share Will’s top 10 up-and-coming artists, each of whom will be featured at the fair. Here’s a little about him and his top 10 list:
Full Name: Will Ramsay
Position: Founder & CEO of Affordable Art Fair and Will’s Art Warehouse
History: My own art history began with the launch of my London gallery, Will’s Art Warehouse, in 1996. I founded the gallery with the aim of making art more accessible: I wanted to help people learn more about art and dispel the misconception that you have to be a squillionaire to buy art. From these founding roots, I was inspired to establish the Affordable Art Fair, which I did in 1999 in London. I also founded contemporary art-hub PULSE, held annually in Miami; co-founded Asia’s leading art fair – the prestigious Art Hong Kong, which has since become Art Basel Hong Kong; and I have worked behind the scenes in many other art events. In addition to my passion for art, I served in the British Army for five years, I am Chairman of YPO’s Art Network, and I am also working hard setting up a hydroelectric business, running a farm, writing a book, and playing the bagpipes. I recently won my first race as an amateur jockey. And as if all that wasn’t enough, I am married and busy bringing up four daughters!
It’s all in the details in Guillaume Cornet’s illustrations. The abstract geometry and surreal perspectives in his work continually keep the eye moving, creating a humorous and playful visual story between the characters and the sometimes bizarre scenarios he depicts.
Ben Thomas’ work is centered around the cities and urban spaces that we live in. His most recent “Chroma” series focuses on their deconstruction, posing questions about how society defines the spaces we inhabit. I really enjoy the painterly quality in Ben’s work and how he treats the spaces within the photograph as abstract planes of colour to intensify the feeling of the environment.
There is a captivating and imaginative perspective that comes through in Miguel Vallinas’ photographs, and I admire the haunting and mysterious quality of his work. Many of his series deconstruct human portraits, beginning with reality and evolving towards surrealism, bringing into question the identity and existence of the character portrayed.
4. Hyang Yeon Lee (Represented by: Genuine Global Company)
The carefully considered formations of colour in Lee Hyang-Yeon’s work really draws me into her paintings. The way she applies paint to the surface, juxtaposing large flats of colour with areas of tightly contrasting hues, conveys the emotional experience and thoughtful process applied to each layer.
What’s special about Thomas Hammer’s works is his mark-marking. His acrylic paintings contrast hard-edged geometric abstraction with a painterly touch by utilising a unique tool that fuses a squeegee and a brush. The result is a sense of depth in his works, implemented through a variety of textures that vary between smooth and flowing, staccato and rhythmic. To my eye they are an elegant dance.
The intricate detailing in Elise Wehle’s hand-cut patterns are exquisite. Layered with photographs or drawings, the negative space of the cut-out patterns contrast with the imagery, obstructing the seen with the unseen. The combination of nostalgic imagery with detailed craftsmanship creates a contemporary edge to these beautiful pieces, which I love.
A recent MFA graduate from Kent State University, Meaghan Reed’s works are inspired by nature and the stories behind the concentric layers of growth rings found in tree stumps. By applying this concept to create “portraits” of the people in her life, Meaghan produces mesmerising and symbolic sculptures. The initials of the individuals represented can also be found within the artwork, which I think adds a special touch to the personality of each piece.
Using miniatures, found objects, animal parts, and glass, Jesse Bromm’s sculptures alter the viewer’s perception of reality or aspects of everyday life. His intriguing and thought-provoking sculptures explore the dichotomy between surface culture and what is buried underneath, challenging my eye visually and conceptually.
Thierry Genay’s work explores the timeless subject of the still-life. The meticulous attention to composition within his photographs create moments of silence and simplicity which open up space for imagination. The ambiguity of each image when first encountered – is it a painting or a photograph – creates an enjoyable visual tension.
Colour, gesture, line, movement, and temporality all play essential parts in the overall narratives in Heidi Conrod’s paintings. I enjoy the whimsical and ephemeral quality of her gestures and how the shapes are a playful combination of abstraction and figuration.
Top Image // courtesy of Will Ramsay and Affordable Art Fair