Photo London 2023 review
Photo London completed another hugely successful edition of the UK’s most important photography event on Sunday, 14th May. The well-attended fair saw strong sales across all sectors, with some booths selling out entirely.
- 125 exhibitors came from 56 cities worldwide, showing photography from across the globe;
- Strong sales in all sectors of the fair, with some dealers selling out entire booths;
- An inspirational mix of rare gems from the dawn of the medium alongside 20th Century greats in the main fair and the most experimental photography of today in the Discovery section’
- Record numbers of VIP collectors visited this year, travelling from as far as Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Israel and the US as well as across Europe;
- This year saw a significant rise in attendance from significant museums and institutions worldwide;
- The public programme was once again a highlight of the Fair with acclaimed exhibitions by Martin Parr and the recently established Centre for British Photography;
- Co-curated by Aperture, Nikon and FT Weekend, the Talks Programme was highly popular, featuring a group of acclaimed artists — including Nick Waplington and Lyndsey Addario — and a number of conversations sold out in advance of the Fair;
- Léa Habourdin represented by Fisheye Gallery won the Photo London x Nikon Emerging Photographer Award with her series “images-forêts” (2020–2022); while the Iranian artist Maryam Palizgir, shown by Roya Khadjavi Projects /Nemazee Fine Art, won the People’s Choice Award;
- The inaugural Photo London x Hahnemühle Student Award was won by Cieran Jay Forster from the University of Arts London;
- Contemporary Mexican photography featured strongly with the exhibition ‘Fotografía Maroma’ co-curated by Fariba Farshad and Patricia Conde and presented by Belmond;
- Iranian photographers shown by a number of galleries, including Gallery O from Tehran;
- Pavilion project ‘I MATTER’ displayed an outdoor exhibition by the non-profit organisation CASE Art Fund to raise awareness about children’s human rights;
- 127 galleries taking part in Photo London digital, running until 29 May;
- Ninth edition of the fair to take place 9 – 12 May 2024 (preview 8 May).
This year’s Master of Photography, Martin Parr, spearheaded a fair that celebrated the best of British while also bringing together artists, galleries, collectors, enthusiasts and experts — united through a love of photography — from all across the globe. With works spanning early prints from the dawn of photography, rare gems and iconic images from the C20th, through to pieces that push the boundaries and reflect on the issues of today, Photo London 2023 offered visitors an inspirational panorama of the medium that best defines our era.
Fair Founders Michael Benson and Fariba Farshad comment: “We were thrilled that the eighth editor of the Fair saw a return to pre-pandemic levels across the board. This was by some distance one of our most international editions and we were especially pleased to welcome many new collectors from around the world as well as old friends from the UK, Europe and North America. The success of this year’s edition confirms Photo London’s position as a leading international celebration of photography in all its forms and perhaps the key place to be for all those intrigued by the future direction of the form. Thanks to the support of our partners — which have this year included the Royal Bank of Canada as principal partner to the fair, Belmond our presenting partner, and Hahnemühle with a new prize for students — Photo London is now brilliantly placed to unlock its full potential under Kamiar Maleki’s direction, and establish itself as the undisputed leader in its field.’
Commenting on the range of creativity on view across the eighth edition, Philippe Garner, Chair of Photo London’s Curatorial Committee said: “This year’s fair provided rich insights into the many exciting new directions in which photographic image-making is evolving across the globe, from the enlistment of Artificial Intelligence to a widespread interest in revisiting traditional chemical techniques, Photo London proved once again a stimulating showcase both for contemporary creativity and for established and historic achievement in this field.”
COLLECTORS AND THE VIP PROGRAMME
The fair was attended by more international collectors than ever before. With individuals from the US, France, Canada, China, Israel, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Australia, Sweden and Spain. Among the museum acquisition groups were: Aperture Foundation (New York), Centre Pompidou (Paris), Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, Foam (Amsterdam), Fotografiska (New York), Instituto Moreira Salles (São Paulo), Inter Art Center (Beijing), MAMCO (Geneva), La MEP (Paris), Museum Voorlinden (Wassenaar), Museum of Modern Art (Warsaw), National Museum of Art (Washington, DC), The Getty (Los Angeles) and Tate, Victoria & Albert Museum, Royal Academy and Serpentine Galleries (London).
The popular VIP Programme of events returned once again to complement the activities and events happening at the Fair, providing collectors with an exciting array of events to attend throughout the week. The Fair welcomed a record-number of institutional and collectors’ groups for private tours.
Other VIP events included: a special VIP dinner to celebrate the 2023 Master of Photographer, Martin Parr; private visits to the studios of renowned photographers such as Jamie Hawkesworth, Mary McCartney, Miles Aldridge and Tim Flach; an exclusive exhibition walkthrough with artist Campbell Addy at 180 Studios; an experiential darkroom printing workshop, led by artists at the Royal College of Art; and curator-led tours at The Photographers’ Gallery, Imperial War Museums, Li Yuan-chia Foundation and the Centre for British Photography.
“Photo London was an edgy and refreshing fair in the London art scene. We enjoyed participating in the fair this year. The organization was great, and the team was super professional and detail-oriented. The curators who worked during the fair, providing tours to the gallery spaces, helped explain and engage the public with the works presented in the booth and brought a diverse
audience. The Somerset House building is a fabulous scenario, and together with the new director’s approach to the art fair, it brought us a vibrant experience.”
— Artemis, Lisbon
“We had a ball at photo London, despite this being the first time both of our artists, Fan Ho and Yasihiro Ogawa to exhibit in the Uk, both artists proved to already have a strong following. Many were excited to see the works for real while others were thrilled to discover them. Our goal though was not just merely sales. Our main goal was to open doors for our program, and catch the attention of museums, institutions, publishers and even other galleries to hopefully collaborate with in the future to support our unique Asian focused program and create more awareness for Asia’s finest artists in the west. Fan Ho never has been exhibited in a museum context in Europe or Uk before and we managed to make some steps towards that in the future at photo London.”
— Blue Lotus, Hong Kong
“I was very happy with my booth. I saw clients I had not seen for quite a while and Justine Tjallinks in particular had a great success!”
— Galerie Sophie Scheidecker, Paris
“Photo London was really terrific this year. Wandering around the Fair, I was struck by the fact that there were more museum quality pieces on show than any other art fair I can think of…. We had an had an amazingly strong opening day and through the course of the Fair we met a several of major new long term clients who brought important works by, Brancussi, Weston and Brandt amongst others.”
— Grob Gallery, Geneva
“We are very happy to have participated in Photo London fair last week! Being both an exhibitor and experiencing the fair was an absolute joy. It was a true success! Thank you to everyone who made this fair experience unforgettable.”
— Ira Stehmann Fine Art, Munich
“Showing at Photo London with my three Australian artists was a dream come true. Beautiful Somerset House was the perfect setting to meet collectors, curators and artists. We had a fabulous experience in all areas and thank the Photo London team for all their hard work”
— Mars Gallery, Melbourne
“It was an absolute delight for Patricia Conde Galería to have the opportunity to showcase Mexican photography to the public. We extend our heartfelt gratitude to Photo London and Candlestar for their meticulous planning, ensuring everything was in place for the gallery’s scheduled opening. In addition, we were genuinely impressed by the friendly and attentive nature of the staff, who went above and beyond to cater to our needs. We sincerely hope that this marks the beginning of a meaningful and enduring relationship between Mexican photography and the discerning audience of Photo London.”
— Patricia Conde Galería, Mexico City
“This year’s edition of Photo London proved to me that the last day can be your best!
Persons Projects were delighted to sell two large works by Santeri Tuori and Niko Luoma in the last hours of the fair.”
— Persons Projects, Berlin
“It was so wonderful to be back in my home town again for Photo London. The audience responded so well to our presentation and we made wonderful new friends and contacts for the future. It was especially gratifying that the glorious work of the great fashion photographer Lillian Bassman and the powerful imagery of our star landscape photographer Jeffrey Conley found new loving homes with a major Swiss Private collector. The fair was another feather in the cap of the founders and their always hard-working team and their passion and dedication to the medium of photography.”
— Peter Fetterman Gallery, Santa Monica
“Our focus on Italian photography was rewarded having sold all 3 artists which is always rewarding for me as a gallery owner taking risks.”
— Podbielski Gallery, Milan
“Photo London 2023 was a real eye-opener for us. As first time participants we were cautious in our expectations but every day we made good sales — even selling a photograph 5 minutes before closing time on Sunday! We had not anticipated such a steady stream of visitors, nor such a high degree of enthusiasm for photography in all its forms. Our experience of art fairs is you always suffer lulls of activity on certain days but with Photo London there was never a dull moment! At times the public’s enthusiasm for the work of Martin Parr overwhelmed us.
Furthermore, the distance visitors had travelled impressed us — not only from within the UK but from mainland Europe, USA and China. We are now regretting not having got the gallery involved in earlier years.”
— Rocket Gallery, London
“We are very happy after the excellent reception, interest and incredible feedback that our exhibition project has received from curators, critics, museums, institutions and the general public. The fact that our proposal of Latin American photography next to Lestido, Zuviría, Brodsky & Porter has stood out in the Somerset House as one of the most political but poetical solid & forceful proposals of the fair fills us with pride and satisfaction.”
— Rolf Art, Buenos Aires
“We were very pleased with our participation in Photo London this year and were happy to be part of their programming. Maryam Palizgir won the Nikon Emerging Photographer Award People’s Choice vote. Sales were strong and people were very interested in Iranian Photography.”
— Roya Khadjavi Projects /Nemazee Fine Art, New York
“It was a really successful first edition for us. It was a pleasure participating and meeting the London crowd. Thanks to the curator who toured the fair and presented our booth to their groups, we were able to meet new collectors and show light to not only renowned artists but also on more emerging ones. It was a pleasure seeing the response was so positive both from the public and from the professionals.”
— Galerie Écho 119, Paris
“We were a little anxious about presenting a stand of solely unique works as we knew it was a risk. But have been pleasantly surprised and the risk paid off. Sales have been good, 80% of works on the wall sold this year and look forward to planning for future editions.”
— Open Doors Gallery, London
“Photo London 2023 has been the perfect event for us to launch New Dimension as an entity. At the fair we showed work by Sam Wright alongside launching a book we published titled “The City of the Sun”. The book almost sold out during the fair. We’re overwhelmed with the press we received alongside the overall reception of the project from the public, collectors and industry peers.”
— New Dimension, London
PUBLIC PROGRAMME EXHIBITIONS
Opening just days after the coronation, this year’s Public Programme offered a timely celebration of the best of British photography. The legendary Martin Parr reigned supreme, with this year’s Master of Photography hailed as ‘the Godfather of contemporary British Photography’ by fair Founders Benson and Farshad — an accolade much repeated across widespread media coverage.
‘Martin Parr. Recent Works’ presented images continuing Parr’s long fascination with the British people alongside his installation “Beach Therapy” and specially printed deckchairs, allowing viewers to relax and contemplate the work they’d just seen. Speaking at the opening, Parr said: “I have been photographing in Britain and Ireland for more than 50 years and have built a comprehensive archive of my catalogue. I am presenting here at Photo London a set of recent images that have not been shown before, which shows my ongoing documentation of the British Isles.”
The best of British theme was continued with the much-lauded group show ‘Writing her own Script. Women Photographers from the Hyman Collection’, curated by the Centre for British Photography. Presenting many of the pioneering women photographers at work in Britain over the last 100 years, the exhibition highlighted two distinct strands: a humanistic documentary tradition and a more personal, performative practice
Dr James Hyman comments: “We had an incredible response to the exhibition including huge numbers of enthusiastic visitors and great press coverage. We really appreciated the platform given to us by Photo London to publicise British photography and also to promote the recently opened Centre for British Photography. We were also pleased that the Centre was able to take part in the fair for the first time as a way of fundraising for the charity. We’d like to thank Fariba, Michael, Kamiar and all the team for their support.”
A third exhibition, ‘Fotografía Maroma’ was curated by Fair Founder Fariba Farshad with the esteemed Mexican gallerist Patrica Conde, who showed at Photo London for the first time. Presented by Belmond, this travelling exhibition presented the unique responses by four Mexican photographers — Patricia Lagarde, Ilán Rabchinskey, Javier Hinojosa and Margot Kalach — to the magical Rivera Maya on Mexico’s northeastern Yucatán Peninsula.
Arnaud Champenois, Senior Vice President Brand & Marketing at Belmond comments: “As Presenting Partner of Photo London 2023, we have been incredibly delighted and rewarded to welcome visitors and Friends of the Brand to ‘Fotografía Maroma’ – a vibrant exhibition commissioned to celebrate the diverse beauty of the Riviera Maya through the remarkable talents and unique perspectives of some of Mexico’s leading photographers, in anticipation of the reopening of Maroma, A Belmond Hotel this summer.”
PHOTO LONDON X NIKON EMERGING PHOTOGRAPHER AWARD
The Photo London x Nikon Emerging Photographer 2023 Award was won by Léa Habourdin, represented by Fisheye Gallery, for her exquisite large-format works encapsulating the beauty of the primary French forest. Using the photosensitivity of chlorophyll through naturally extracted pigments as her ink, the French visual artist reduces the ecological footprint of her photographic to a minimum.
On receiving the award, Habourdin said: “’I’m thrilled to receive the PhotoLondon x Nikon Emerging Photographer of the Year award. It’s been three years working on untouched and preserved forests, experiencing the act of harvesting plants to print my pictures, the same way that we need wood to light a campfire. I am grateful to all the passionate exchanges I had while showing this work, everybody is concerned, that’s a hope for the future that we are writing. I would like to thank CNAP, CIPGP, and of course Fisheye Gallery for their support.”
Julian Harvie, Marketing Director for Northern Europe Nikon comments: “It has once again been an honour for Nikon to partner with Photo London in 2023. Central to Nikon’s century-old DNA is our duty to the photographers and filmmakers we serve, empowering their creativity, investing in their future and amplifing their impact. Our sponsorship of the Nikon x Photo London Emerging Photographer Award award exemplifies our brand purpose. The shortlisted photographers, a collective of staggering talent, have moved us with their art and encouraged us to consider the world with fresh perspective. To play a small part in their future; to empower, invest in and amplify their work as visual artists, is truly humbling.”
Sofia de Maduro, who chaired the jury for the award, states: “Léa’s forest images are magical and mysterious. We are becoming increasingly aware the world holds the key to our collective future. And so for all their ephemeral beauty, Lea Harbobin’s forest images are a timely reminder of the importance of these secret, special places. The fact that Lea’s anthotypes are made using naturally extracted pigments show an artist in total harmony with her subject. So hidden within her work is an incredibly important message about global sustainability. Lea is a worthy and appropriate winner of the emerging photographer of the year award”
The People’s Choice was won by Iranian photographer Maryam Palizgir, presented by Roya Khadjavi Projects /Nemazee Fine Art, for a series of interdisciplinary works in which photography is staged to resemble abstract painting. The other shortlisted artists were Arielle Pytka (Galerie Sophie Scheidecker), Bootsy Holler (VirginiaVisualArts), Chantal Elisabeth Ariens (Ira Stehmann Fine Art), Chieko Shiraishi (Galerie Echo 119), Evelyn Bencicova (Artemis Gallery), Hailun Ma (Gaotai Gallery), Léa Habourdin (Fisheye Gallery), Lee Lund & Erik K (Catherine Edelman Gallery) and Sam Wright (New Dimension).
PHOTO LONDON X HAHNEMUHLE STUDENT AWARD
This year’s fair saw the first Photo London x Hahnemühle Student Award, which was won by Cieran Jay Forster from University of Arts London. His series “Bird” wowed the judges for its enigmatic quality in which real and imaginative imagery distill scenes to their core. As the winner Cieran receives a residency including time at the Hahnemühle mill in Germany and oversee the production of a new body of photographic work using Hahnemühle’s internationally respected printing papers.
The other shortlisted photographers are Alan Bell (Glasgow School of Art), Fion Hung-Ching Yan (London College of Communication), Lakruwan Rajapaksha (London Metropolitan University) and Victoria Maidstone (The University of the West of England, UWE Bristol). Judging Chair and Head of Photographs at The Guardian, Fiona Shields says about this year’s entries:
“The standard of entries submitted was truly accomplished and showcased artistic talent and a range of original thought with some beautiful and striking series. This award comes at a time of intense economic challenges for those entering a career in the photography industry and is a welcome opportunity to support and provide a platform for such talented individuals.”
PHOTO LONDON TALKS PROGRAMME
Highlights of this year’s Talks Programme, included: ‘Aperture Presents: Martin Parr Through the Photo Book’, which sold out far in advance of the fair; ‘Writing her own Script: Women and Activism’, a conversation between Claire Hyman, Eliza Hatch and Bindi Vora’; ‘Nikon Presents: Max Miechowski on Time, Community & the British Landscape’; and ‘FT Weekend Presents: Photographing Motherhood — And Gáldi Vinkó in conversation with Susan Bright’.
Photo London’s talks continue throughout the year as part of the Photo London Academy, a free online magazine, talks archive and book club.
PHOTO LONDON 2024
Looking ahead to the ninth edition of Photo London 2024, taking place from 9th – 12th May 2024, preview day 8th Photo London Director Kamiar Maleki says:
“This amazing eighth edition gives us an exciting platform on which to build. I am excited to embark on my vision for the fair. We are not only looking to respect the traditional and vintage photo galleries, but as we widen the collector bases of photography we will seek to open up the fair to the best contemporary galleries showcasing their photography artists, many of whom are doing inspirational work at the edge of the discipline. We would also like to develop a Video art/Moving image section. As a platform that celebrates all forms of photography in all its experimental glory we will strive to also incorporate various new technologies into this new adventure.
The potential is huge and the future is really bright.”