Cover image of the review
Loren Kronemyer, installation sale sheet as at 9pm Thursday 16 Feb., Michael Bugelli Gallery. Photo: Michael Bugelli

Melbourne Art Fair

19 Feb 2022
Michael Bugelli Gallery, Anna Schwartz Gallery, Buku-Larrŋgay Mulka, Fine Arts, Sydney 17 Feb - 20 Feb 2022

The thing about an art fair is that it makes an economic microcosm out of a surrounding arts ecology. In the case of MAF, the macro environment is about sixty Australian commercial art galleries and their satellites, both public and private: ACMI, bookstores and art presses, beverage companies like Glenfiddich(?), Nepenthe Winery, Melbourne’s List G barristers. However, the principal partner for the MAF, bennelong, is a Melbourne-based funds manager inexplicably named—I’m guessing—for the eighteenth-century interlocutor between the British Crown and people of the Eora Nation during the British colonisation of New South Wales. Charming.

Then, at the ticketed and VIP vernissage event on the evening of 16 February, there are the people. All located within Jeff’s Shed, the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre, makes this a heady kind of city signature cocktail for the contemporary fine arts. If a Manhattan is made from whiskey, sweet vermouth and bitters, a Melbourne might be natural wine, Glenfiddich and craft beer, all served in a wine cooler purchased yesterday at Myer. I repeatedly see the same man dressed impeccably in a tux and drinking one while picking at a cheese platter at the tables set up adjacent to the expo-centre’s lavatories. Shaken, not stirred. Clearly.

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