Director Kamiar Maleki shares his 2023 Fair Highlights

With one week before the doors to the 2023 edition of Photo London open, we caught up with Director Kamier Maleki to discover his Fair highlights, the benefits of buying at a Fair plus what his overall vision for future editions will entail.


Hello! Please introduce yourself and tell us about this year’s edition of Photo London.

Hi, my name is Kamair Maleki and I’m the Director of Photo London. I warmly welcome you all to the eighth edition of the Fair which is right in the heart of the UK capital. Starting this time next week on the 10th May, the Fair goes right through to the 14th. This year we have over 126 galleries from 56 different cities based across the world celebrating all different forms of photography.


From the series KNOT, 2011 © Jalal Sepehr


Can you share a few of your Fair highlights?

My highlights (and in no particular order) are going to be across the whole Fair. I’m starting with Artemis Gallery, Portugal’s first-ever AI gallery, which is showcasing Evelyn Bencicova, an amazing young artist who is also nominated for our Photo London x Nikon Emerging Photographer Award. My next choice is a gallery that’s normally based across the globe in Hong Kong: Blue Lotus Gallery. Joining us for the first time this year, Blue Lotus not only represents established artists like Fan Ho but also young emerging artists right at the cutting-edge. Bonne Esperance Gallery from Paris is another first-timer and is showcasing Lee-Ann Olwage, who recently won the Creative category in the Sony World Photography Awards, which is run by our partners Creo. Camilla Grimaldi Gallery is doing a site-specific installation (it always excites me when a gallery wants to ‘work the room’ a little bit), and Catherine Edelman Gallery is bringing Omar Imran, a Syrian artist and activist.


Untitled, [my wife is blind] 2015, Live, Love, Refugee © Omar Imam – courtesy of Catherine Edelman Gallery


Bringing the focus back to London, I must mention the Centre for British Photography which is showing Anna Fox amongst many others. Fisheye Gallery is another highlight for me, and is exhibiting three artists who have all been nominated in different years for the Photo London x Nikon Emerging Photographer Award. We also have Galerie Sophie Scheidecker who is bringing works by Arielle Pytka – another Nikon EPA nominee! We also have Patricia Conde Galería from Mexico who is co-curating with our Fair’s Co-Founder Fariba Farshad a four-artist show about the photographs from Riviera Maya. There’s a heavy focus on Iranian artists this year, with Roya Khadjavi Projects and LS10 – to name just a few galleries – and then of course we have the Nikon Emerging Photographer Award and the inaugural Hahnemühle Student Award. For the time ever we’re welcoming the Royal Bank of Canada as our Principal partner and Belmond as our Presenting Partner. Of course we fondly welcome back our long-term partner FT Weekend as well. With so much to see, I recommend you come back, as there won’t be time to see everything in one day! If you see us, make sure you ask questions, talk to the galleries, and discover all the nooks and crannies at Photo London – as discovering is at the heart of the Fair.

Leopards, Natural History Museum, NYC.2013 © Arielle Pytka

What is your vision as Director for Photo London?

Firstly it’s a great privilege to take over from Michael Benson and Fariba Farshad, who founded the Fair and ran it for the past eight years, and have really established it as one of the top photography fairs in the world. This year’s exhibitors really highlight that. My vision for the Fair is simple: to build on the legacy that they’ve built while also looking to the future and questioning how we can bring more collectors to the fair. My aim is to work not only with the best photography galleries, in the world but also the best of the contemporary ones that have great photo artists in their programme. I’d definitely like the Fair to look at the future of photography, as well as video art and moving image too. I really want to activate and harness where the Fair is based too: London.


Country Girls, 1996-2001 © Anna Fox – courtesy of British Centre for Photography

What part of your role as Director have you enjoyed the most since you were appointed earlier this year?

On a personal level, I really enjoy interacting with all of the collectors, exhibitors, and institutions not only during the Fair but throughout the year, to see how we can work together. I also absolutely love organising, so for me there’s nothing better than strategising the Fair across the whole year and then seeing it all come together. Right now, as we stand in the courtyard of Somerset House, the Pavilion is being constructed and it’s so exciting to see it all come up. The build is ready, the galleries are excited and we can’t welcome you all to Photo London.

And finally, why buy at a Fair?

At first, it might seem a little daunting but a Fair is the most exciting place that you can buy art. Where better to look at 126 different galleries that you would not have the time to do and see individually? The Photo London team travels the world throughout the year to handpick the best of the best galleries, who then choose their best artists to showcase their work all under one roof. Don’t be afraid to go and ask questions, find out about their artists, start a rapport with the galleries, and then you know if this is the type of art you’d really like to buy. You can take your time looking at the artwork too, which would otherwise take days – even months – to discover yourself.