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A weekend of art in Copenhagen

— August 2014

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Kunsthal Charlottenborg Courtyard. Courtesy of CHART

This weekend, the city of Copenhagen will launch the second edition of Denmark’s latest art fair, CHART, which will take over the beautiful Kunsthal Charlottenborg. Unlike other art fairs, CHART mirrors Denmark’s socialist political culture, aiming to present art work in a collaborative and cooperative forum. Sponsored by Danske Bank with media partner ArtReview, the fair unifies 27 galleries from the Nordic region. Focusing entirely on contemporary art, CHART presents its unique take on the art fair model from 29 August to 31 August.

CHART is the brainchild of five Copenhagen-based galleries; Galleri Susanne Ottesen, Galleri Bo Bjerggaard, V1 Gallery, Andersen’s Contemporary and David Risley Gallery, who banded together to create an unpretentious platform to professionally showcase Nordic-region galleries. Last year, the team came up with the premise of the collaborative art fair as a way to strengthen Scandinavia’s place in the international art market, using it as a foothold to put the region’s galleries into the international forefront. Rather than a competitive atmosphere with each booth trying to outsell the next, CHART encourages the group endeavour. The fair operates on the spirit of traditional Scandinavian collaboration, with the participating galleries working together towards the common goal of a successful presentation, including an innovative programme of talks and special exhibitions.

To differentiate its presentation from other art fairs, CHART has first focused on the host venue. Rather than an exhibition hall or pop-up tent akin to a trade show, the fair takes place at the gorgeous Baroque Charlottenborg Palace, creating an atmosphere that meshes commercial concerns with a landmark of historic and cultural significance. Built in 1754, the architectural gem’s courtyard serves as the venue for CHART’s lavish opening party, as well as a venue for the fair’s Special Projects, which include indoor and outdoor works. Furthering the collaborative tone, the opening party is not only for VIPs, but welcomes everyone to enjoy live music under the stars, as well as a pop-up street kitchen with innovative food stalls from six of Copenhagen’s top restaurants.

The courtyard will not just serve as a venue for the party, but will act as the nerve center of the fair.  With the galleries indoors, the outdoor space will add breadth to the fair, offering a combination of food, music and design. Seven teams of young architects were invited to design the outdoor pavilions for CHART’s food and media partners, in a competition bolstering Nordic design and judged by Dorte Foos, BIG Architecture’s Bjark Ingels, and artist Jeppe Hein.

Inside the fair, galleries invited from Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Finland and Denmark will present paintings, drawings, sculptures, installations, prints, photography and video art from their prospective rosters, including site-specific works commissioned for the fair. Stockholm’s Galleri Magnus Karlsson will feature the work of Swedish artist Helene Billgren. The painter, whose pieces are often described as mysterious and enchanted, has recently explored combining her classic paintings with printmaking.  Yet Untitled is a new piece that showcases her new working technique, combining pulled silkscreen with hand-drawn charcoal and textile embellishments. Also featured is one of Petra Lindholm’s light box installations, entitled Empty Vessels. The silhouettes of four shadowy figures can be seen around a warm light source, creating a gray scale image inspired by vintage negatives given to the artist by her grandfather.

Among the galleries featuring multiple works by one artist is Stockholm’s Galleri Andersson/Sandstrom, who is presenting a multi-media show by Antony Gormley. A collection of geometrical sculptures by the British artist are joined by a collection of works on paper that may seem unfamiliar to Gormley’s general public. Layers of translucent geometric shapes made from graphic and casein show a softer side of Gormley’s oeuvre.

An eclectic body of work by Olafur Eliasson will be shown by i8 Gallery from Reykjavik. (Eliasson produced the wonderful installation The Weather Project  at Tate Modern in 2003). The booth will center around one of Eliasson’s classic steel and mirrored hanging sculptures, Square Sphere. The delicate Multiverse 3, a geometric hanging sculpture of wire and magnets flank a series of framed works based on historic maps of Iceland.

And of course there are many more artists whose work will be on display this weekend.

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