My brother and I just returned the other day from what proved to be a fairly intense weekend of scanning art together in Turin at this year's edition of the Artissima art fair. Fairs usually do tend to be quite hectic as there's so much to get through and to check off the agenda. Usually there'll be a number of off-site events and exhibitions to attend and other than that there's always just trying to squeeze in as much art as possible with whatever time you have at your disposal, instagrammin' like there was no tomorrow, networking like nobody's business, hand out your personal card (Eggshell with Roman, as of late) and looking dapper in your black Acne attire. It's good that we're two; we make for a pretty good team and can sort of carry each other on the back when the other is struck by fatigue.


Artissima unlike an art fair like Frieze bears much more of an emerging character, gathering a variety of cool and hot galleries representing artists currently creating a buzz whom you'd expect to find on the controversial ArtRank site. Consequently names found will be along the lines of Andy Boot, Gabriele de Santis, Alex DaCorte and Kasper Sonne rather than Yayoi Kusama, Jeff Koons and Marina Abramovic, and galleries that are called Rod Barton, Frutta Gallery and MOT International, more so than Marian Goodman and Perrotin. Naturally Artissima is not entirely deprived of the Tony Craggs and Antony Gormleys of the world, however you'll just find them in smaller quantities. Altogether this creates for what is arguably in many ways a more interesting setting to discover and expose yourself to art.

Among Nordic galleries admitted to take part in the fair, there were Stockholm-based Belenius/Nordenhake which at home here belongs to the more cutting-edge galleries working with such prominent names as Evan Roth and Navin Rawanchaikul. I found the gallery to have executed a particularly interesting presentation with artists from the gallery's roster including Sophie Tottie and emerging artists Karl Norin and Simon Mullan.

A definite highlight from this year was the Romanian gallery SABOT  based out of the hub that is Cluj-Napoca. It's worth taking note that Romanian art really is having a moment as we speak with several prominent names on the rise like Adrian Ghenie (exhibiting with Pace Gallery) and Mihut Boscu Kafchin. Moreover, both Arken in Copenhagen and Espace Culturel Louis Vuitton in Paris presented great shows last year focusing on emerging Romanian art. SABOT in particular is the gallery leading the pack and had chosen to do a solo presentation with avant-gardian Alex Mirutziu who have in the past been labeled the Enfant Terrible of Romanian art. Both Daria, the director of SABOT and Alex have previously contributed and appeared in our own online art journal C-print which naturally made it heaps of fun meeting and spending time with them in person.


The real big buzz during Artissima this year centered around an off-site group show held at the great Palazzo Cavour in the city, curated by a team of three helmed by Maurizio Cattelan. Cattelan most definitely is among the absolute frontrunners in contemporary Italian art and with his name attached to the project, it must have been a done deal for the show to generate the sort of press and interest that it has. Interest, yes...lines to get inside were more or less what you'd expect to a club where Bey Bey Knowles and Jay Z would be inside "poppin' bottles". Everyone and their mother seemed to want to catch the show. Interestingly, a highly democratic approach was applied at the door with everyone having to stand in line, regardless of press or VIP credentials. Quite liked the idea of that actually.

As far as the show is concerned, it definitely delivered and we were thrilled at the idea of finding works of artists like Sarah Lucas, VALIE EXPORT, Tracey Emin, Dorothy Iannone and Sylvia Sleigh curated together (!) in one of the sections of the show. Showstopping moments included installations of art graves which saw the burial of artworks in wood and soil. Yet nothing really was as eye-catching as the mural installation of Eric Doeringer by the stairwell of the palazzo; walls were literally covered in $$$ with 40 000 1 $ bills mounted horizontally along the walls. Who else, if not Cattelan would greenlight that?


Looking back at the past weekend, Turin really does serve as a nice backdrop for an art fair. It's a fairly small and romantic sort of city found amidst a scenery of mountains and alps in the horizon. Locals are very friendly and helpful even at times when English proves to be a bit of a hassle. Someone was describing the city to me as the city of understatements. Understated, yes, I think that would be just about right. It has a very immediate quality; you'll fall in love with the beautiful city landscape at once and yet might have to scratch a bit under the surface to get a good hang of the city beyond the impeccable façade. Currently the streets of Turin are set up with a number of impressive large-scale light art installations which turn evening and night walks into a bit of a foray of art in itself.