Fashion Illustration at Multiplied 2013… but is it Art?

October 4, 2013 by


The ICA recently hosted a panel discussion about the work of Antonio Lopez. Paul Caranicas, a New York based artist and former lover of Lopez’s collaborator, Juan Ramos (and President of the Antonio Lopez Foundation) shared a platform with the fashion writer Colin McDowell and Sue Dray from the London College of Fashion. They had been invited to consider the notion, ‘art vs. illustration’.

‘But is it Art?’ which ‘art vs. illustration’ is a variant of, is a discussion that continues to gain willing participation. Policing entry into the sacred space of Art or ‘real art’ is for some a very serious business indeed whereas for others the desire to promote illustration out, away from and above its humble origins is what gets them going – in part, it’s the appalling elitism that forces them to make a stand! Both groups are engaged in a battle about perception as are we.

In a couple of weeks FIG will be participating in Multiplied, an art fair hosted and organised by Christie’s South Kensington. Multiplied is one of a number of art fairs organised in London in the wake and shadow of the Frieze tent in Regent’s Park.

Frieze gains its identity as the authoritative voice of what we might call ‘real art’ by hosting the hardcore contemporary art galleries setting the agenda, the pace and leading the field. Frieze does a brilliant job and the brand’s various manifestations have become so successful that if your gallery is in, you’re in and if you’re out some wonder, ‘why bother?’.

For FIG it’s a question of belief and we are grateful for the opportunity of the exposure that participating in Multiplied provides because we know there are some who will never consider what we offer as ‘real art’. For this reason their minds will be forever closed. For them our artists will be categorised out of sight and out of mind.

Whether the work we offer is considered ‘real art’ or not we make the claim with some confidence that the drawings, paintings, prints and collages that we show are genuinely world class. They aren’t in any way the result of industry hype and market manipulation. An illustrator does not build a decade long career in the fashion industry without considerable talent. The bar to success is set extremely high by the world’s most discerning and discriminating art directors and they’re not a group of professionals easily coerced into commissioning something against their will.

We’ve said it before and we will say it again and again until the message gets out there. Fashion is only superficially superficial and is as valid a subject of artistic enquiry as any other, and the very best illustrations of it reflect something of the way we were, we are and want to be. Hand crafted works by the world’s best can be both beautiful and moving. Whilst the works by our artists are of a museum quality they remain for the time being affordable and as such, highly collectable.

Visit FIG, Stand 17 at Mutiplied, Christies, South Kensington, 95 Old Brompton Road, London SW7 3LD. 18-21 October 2013.

FIG will be showing new prints, drawings and paintings by Zoë Taylor, David Downton, Richard Gray and Tanya Ling alongside self published multiples by François Berthoud and Hiroshi Tanabe.

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