Afridi Gallery at Masterpiece London.
MASTERPIECE LONDON 2019
'The unmissable art fair'
27th June - 3rd July
Exhibiting at their first international art fair, the Afridi Gallery’s stand at Masterpiece 2019 was unanimously awarded Outstanding Display by a judging panel of collectors, curators, interior designers, journalists and the chairman of the fair. The gallery was praised for showing artistry and restraint in its ability to group objects from an impressive range of contexts imaginatively weaving hidden threads of affinity across immeasurable planes of times and space.
Afridi Gallery Aisle view, Masterpiece London
Creating an inviting and serene atmosphere, the open arrangement of works allowed visitors to move freely and be pulled organically to the objects that most attracted them. Among the many delighting discoveries to be made was a wooden board richly patinated in lustrous layers of black, red and gold. It is at first glance, reminiscent of the masterpieces of mid-century Abstract Expressionism, yet closer attention unveils it as the incidental markings of a 19th century Japanese lacquer maker’s palette.
A sumptuous woven textile rewards our lingering eye with the revelation that its eruption of elaborate floral motifs and hybrid creatures are displayed asymmetrically, each one a unique example of the skills of the late 19th century Ziegler weavers of Iran.
Formal echoes resounded through the stand. An array of Iznik fritware tiles were once vibrantly coloured segments within grander design schemes. Isolated now and placed before the Ziegler textile, their lively motifs momentarily melt into its own less ordered outlines, so that each tiles is at once a rare vestige of a place lost to time and yet revived in the present moment by its ability to connect with new objects. As the viewer turns they are met by a Kuba blossom carpet, an arresting wall-length strip of flowerhead arranged in a dense canopy, the effect of which is heightened by a nearby vase brimming with plants and petals. These harmonious encounters between disparate forms reveals in the objects a timelessness of structure and style.
In a more unlikely pairing, the textiles soar over a medieval iron armourer’s anvil that bears the many scratches and scars of its history but is reforged here as a dynamically sculptural form. Across the room the rounded ascension of gleaming gold arcs on a 16th century crescent moon finial recalls the rounded lattice structure and blossoming crimson palmettes on the rare Ottoman embroidery behind. Again, these vivid colours and flourishing forms are boldly contrasted by the monochromatic and starkly delineated, almost primitive pattern of repeat crenellations on a nearby mid-century Swedish flatweave.
Crescent moon finial with Ottoman embroidery.
In raising such a wealth of textiles on to the walls and granting them swathes of space, the Afridi Gallery recognised not only their exceptionally high quality but also their appeal as objects in their own right. The stand was also a site of inspiration. Elegant and sparing places functional design objects such as a set of Fontana Arte coat hooks or Pool Kjaerholm’s exemplary PK22 chair were evidence of how these pieces could come together and stylishly complement the contemporary furniture arrangements of a modern home.
The Afridi Gallery was awarded for the display of a certain daring and willingness to improvise in its reimagining of objects in a new context. This same vision continues at the Afridi Gallery on Royal Hospital Road, a few hundred yards from Masterpiece’s exhibition grounds.
We look forward to welcoming you to the gallery.