October 13, 2019

London’s PAD Offers a World of Art and Design

London’s PAD Offers a World of Art and Design


LONDON — For the last 12 years, a vast and elegant tent has been pitched in the heart of London’s affluent Mayfair district during Frieze week. The Pavilion of Art and Design — or PAD, as it is commonly known — brings a dose of Continental elegance and panache to London (no doubt because the fair’s founder, Patrick Perrin, is French). Tastefully appointed booths carry everything from tiny baubles and bibelots to sleek modernist furniture, antiquities, glassware and blue-chip art.

This year (PAD’s 13th edition), 68 galleries from 14 countries will come together. Eleven are newcomers to the event, which runs through Sunday. One new participant is Southern Guild, based in Cape Town, which specializes in collectible design. Another is the Barcelona-based Side Gallery, which offers Latin American design.

Following is a tour of some highlights.

Billed as the only gallery in South Africa offering locally made design collectibles, Southern Guild was founded in 2008 by Trevyn and Julian McGowan (who moved to South Africa five years earlier after a couple of decades spent working in the London design world). The gallery seems to have benefited from an influx of visitors to a museum that opened next to it in 2017: the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa, designed by Thomas Heatherwick.

At PAD, the gallery is showing works by more than a dozen designers, including Andile Dyalvane, one of South Africa’s most gifted ceramists. The son of a cattle farmer, he grew up in rural surroundings and works with clay, a material that reminds him of his childhood. The handsome vessels he is showing at PAD — which look like pots that a sculptor got halfway through shaping — were created during a residency at a pottery in St. Ives, on the southwest coast of England.

CreditJoaquim Tenreiro/SIDE Gallery

Set up in Barcelona in November 2015 by two architects, Side Gallery occupies a very particular niche: It is known for offering 20th-century Latin American design from places such as Brazil, Mexico and Venezuela. Its inaugural PAD booth will feature creations by the pioneer of modernist Brazilian furniture, Joaquim Tenreiro, who died in 1992.

Born in Portugal and the son of a furniture maker, he picked up traditional techniques in his father’s atelier. He moved to Rio de Janeiro in his early 20s and developed his own style, using native materials to produce modern designs. Mr. Tenreiro’s peak years as a furniture maker were the 1930s and 1940s; by the late 1960s, he closed his furniture business to turn to painting and sculpture instead.

Visitors to PAD can see his Leve armchair and Concha armchair. Also on display are unique pieces he made for a close friend who happened also to be his lawyer. There’s a bench that measures more than 13 feet long, and a coffee table made with five types of wood.

There is usually a solid selection of modern art at PAD, with works available in a wide range of prices. This year, the Galerie von Vertes has a few worth perusing.

One particular piece has strong provenance: It was exhibited at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis and at the Hayward Gallery in London. “L’Atlantide” (1957-58) is an eerie work in gouache on paper by René Magritte picturing a bathtub (tiled on the outside) and a bulging object cloaked in a sheet. In the background, an upside-down church hangs from a cliff. It is priced at 350,000 pounds (about $430,000).

For the same price, you can pick up a much cheerier work: “Little Still Life #15” (1964), an oil, plastic and plaster relief on board work by the Pop artist Tom Wesselmann, who died in 2004.

CreditKeith Haring/Galerie Von Verte

A more expensive proposition is Keith Haring’s “Red-Yellow-Blue #20,” part of a series that the American artist (1958-1990) produced after sharing a Paris studio with the painter George Condo. It shows a rabbitlike figure, painted in yellow, with blue spikes poking out of its perky ears. Price: about £520,000.

African art has been present in Parisian collections for the better part of a century. To this day, a chic Paris living room is likely to have at least one African piece. The Ratton dynasty of dealers played a part in making African art so popular. Charles Ratton (1897-1986) blazed the trail: He became such a prominent dealer and connoisseur that he lent works to the Museum of Modern Art’s “African Negro Art” exhibition in 1935, and was the focus of a 2013 exhibition at the Quai Branly museum in Paris. That is even though he never had a storefront; he operated out of his apartment on the Right Bank.

His brother, Maurice, also became a dealer of African art, and Maurice was followed by his son, Philippe. Now Maurice’s grandson Lucas has picked up where they left off.

“I always grew up surrounded by these objects: I considered them members of the family, and every time my father would sell one, it would make me sad,” Lucas Ratton recalled, explaining his personal interest in the field.

Mr. Ratton’s booth at PAD features a Jukun shoulder mask from Nigeria that was worn in ritual dances. It is a rare piece in that it was produced for ritual use, rather than for sale on the market, as was the case with shoulder masks that were made subsequently. Composed of wood and metal, it dates from the 19th century and shows a figure with an elongated face and ears. Price: 80,000 euros (about $87,200).



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