Contemporary art

Tagsmart Visits Frieze London 2018

Once a year, around 60,000 people in London have the opportunity to visit one of the biggest art fairs in the world, and one of the most exciting art events:  Frieze. Last weekend, Tagsmart joined the party and we had a wonderful time!

Showcasing art from over 200 galleries in the world, visiting them all becomes a mission for each visitor. But this is what happens, Frieze creates a temporary city where every corner is populated by the most influential galleries in the world, allowing us to fully immerse ourselves in the art world for a few hours.

It is almost impossible to pick only a few works, however, we tried, and here is the selection of our favourite pieces at Frieze.

Our trip started like every trip should start, with a passport and luggage. Tom Sachs presented a multi-location installation during Frieze week. At Thaddaeus Ropac, he was issuing Swiss passports and at the fair, he presented a German suitcase, closed and ready to leave the country.

Tom Sachs, Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, Frieze, London, 2018.

Tom Sachs, Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, Frieze, London, 2018.

Following this idea of transportation, Pace Gallery presented a painting by William Monk that gave room for a sense of spirituality elsewhere.

William Monk, Pace Gallery, Frieze, London, 2018.

William Monk, Pace Gallery, Frieze, London, 2018.

Travesia Cuatro offered something more familiar, John Isaacs’ textile work brought back tactile memories of a warmer time.  

John Isaacs, Travesia Cuatro, Frieze, London, 2018.

John Isaacs, Travesia Cuatro, Frieze, London, 2018.

Alongside the contemporary, Frieze sets a temporary element with their parallel fair: Masters, showcasing historical artefacts next to modernist art, generating a not-so-clear timeline of the progression of art.

Our personal pick from Frieze Masters has to be Mimesi by Giulio Paolini, one of the maximum exponents of Arte Povera, which in this case, presents us with Greek-inspired portraits enhancing that dialogue across art periods.

Giulio Paolini, Barbara Mathes Gallery, Frieze Masters, London, 2018.

Giulio Paolini, Barbara Mathes Gallery, Frieze Masters, London, 2018.

Our new service: Connect is live!

Tagsmart Connect allows artists to offer trusted artworks direct to online retailers, who in turn can offer DNA protected and professionally certificated artwork to their collectors.

How does it work?

Artworks are protected using Tagsmart Certify - DNA tagging technology.
Artists are then able to submit protected art, directly to online retailers.
Retailers are able to select trusted inventory and offer it to their collectors.
Collectors purchase works with confidence.

“I see a great value in the partnership with Tagsmart, we want to sell trusted art online via our marketplace. It is important for us to have complete and accurate records relating to the works whilst being able to reduce administrative effort. Tagsmart allows us to do so in a very efficient and secure way.”

Nicolas Gitton, Founder of ArtSnap

Tagsmart was here: Harland Miller, Alison Mc Kenna and (many) others

O Canada! 
Fiona Ackerman, Andy Dixon, Kim Dorland, Scott Everingham, Thrush Holmes, Erin Loree, Erik Olson, Justin Ogilvie, Andrew Salgado, Andrea Willamson and Etienne Zack 

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The gallery, which began with pop-up exhibitions in Vancouver in 2008, maintains an exhibition programme with a partially Canadian focus. Led by Director Kurt Beers, who is himself Canadian, the exhibition celebrates the 150th birthday of Canada and provides the first opportunity for the gallery to host an exhibition with exclusively Canadian artists.

Intentionally circumventing any overriding theme, O Canada! finds commonalities between the 11 artists based solely on their heritage, raising questions as to whether there truly is some sort of collective, cultural consciousness or aesthetic tradition.

BEERS London, until August 19
1 Baldwin Street, EC1V 9NU


A Harmony of Opposites
Alison Mc Kenna

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John Marchant Gallery presents British artist Alison Mc Kenna’s first solo exhibition, A Harmony of Opposites. McKenna creates a sense of space and energy, ‘trying to find a simplicity and a charge’. By introducing the idea to accept and use imbalance, her works render the viewer slightly unsteady, searching for symmetry and order.

A number of the works on display were created in Andalusia and the white light of the south is evident throughout the show. A sense that is heightened by the hazy impressions created by the bursts of black charcoal and sporadic dabs of blazing colour.

John Marchant Gallery, until July 29
159 Farringdon Road, EC1R 3AL


One Bar Electric Memoir
Harland Miller

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Harland Miller is both a writer and an artist, practising both roles over a peripatetic career in both Europe and America.

In 2001 Miller produced a series of paintings based of the dust jackets of Penguin books. By combining the motif inherent in the Penguin book, Miller found a way to marry aspects of Pop Art, abstraction and figurative painting at once, with his writer’s love of text. The ensuing images are humorous, sardonic and nostalgic at the same time, while the painting style hints at the dog-eared, scuffed covers of the Penguin classics themselves. Miller continues to create work in this vein, expanding the book covers to include his own phrases, some hilarious and absurd, others with a lush melancholy.

White Cube Mason’s Yard, until September 9
25-26 Mason’s Yard, St. James’s, SW1Y 6BU

Who said ‘Flower Power’ is dead? Celebrating the RHS Chelsea Flower Show

The RHS Chelsea Flower Show, London’s most iconic flower festival, inspires millions through showcasing the best in garden design and has blossomed on us at Tagsmart too! In celebration of the event, now in full bloom until Saturday, May 27, here are our favourite flower-themed contemporary artworks:

1. Alex Katz’ White Roses 9 (2012)

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In a 1968 interview, Katz described his paintings of flowers as an extension of the cocktail party scenes he often painted. He remarked that the flowers are also ‘overlapping volumes’, which cover one another as they advance into the painting’s pictorial space. By selecting flowers as a subject, Katz sought to introduce a greater degree of movement in the work without literally representing something in motion, focusing on the unfolding form of a rose bud. And indeed, White Roses 9 offers a composition of volumes and spaces that dance across the surface of the canvas. Painted rapidly and assuredly, the flowers oscillate between states of awkwardness and grace typically associated with the human body. Katz’s roses, with their fleshy petals and serrated leaves, are aggressive and fierce, contradicting the serene association that flowers typically summon. (Source: Guggenheim Bilbao)


2. Takashi Murakami’s Blue Flowers & Skulls (2012)

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Perhaps Takashi Murakami’s most emblematic motif, these smiling flowers came into the artist’s work when he was preparing for his entrance exams for the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts. He then embraced the form over nine years teaching college students to draw flowers, even though as he once said, “I didn’t like flowers.” Blue Flowers & Skulls explores one of the central dichotomies of his art—between joy and terror, his optimistic as an artist and his pessimistic perspective on postwar Japan. This contradiction is symbolised by the contrast of bright smiling flowers and menacing representations of skulls. Both oppositional and parallel, the flower and the skull are reminders of the fragile vibrancy of life and the inexorable passing of time. (Source: Gagosian)


3. Beatriz Milhazes’ Gamboa Seasons Summer Love (2010)

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Influenced by the tropical climate and vegetation of Brazil as well as by the urban vibe of Rio de Janeiro, Milhazes combines traditional imagery and cultural clichés with plain geometric forms and structured compositions, creating dynamical and unexpected works. (Source: Galerie Max Hetzler)


4. Michael De Feo's Untitled (Last nude Playmate Kristy Garett by Sasha Eisenman for Playboy, Jan-Feb 2016) (2016)

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Inhabiting a space between fine art, street art, and appropriation, Michael De Feo’s (a.k.a. The Flower Guy) iconic flower symbols and graphic interventions began appearing on New York City streets as early as 1993. Re-working fashion imagery from magazine ads to bus shelter billboards by painting cascades of multicoloured petals onto the printed images, De Feo brings new life to his source material in a way that is both subversive and joyful. (Source: Danziger Gallery)


5. Marc Quinn’s The Archaeology of Desire (2009)

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Marc Quinn’s monumental Archaeology of Desire is based upon a naturalistic Phalaenopsis, a genus of the orchid family. The fine, papery petals defy the properties of the bronze medium in which they are cast to appear almost weightless and ethereal. The work belongs to a series of sculptures and paintings through which Quinn has explored the concept of ideal beauty achieved, especially, through genetic modification. On an immense scale, the delicate petals take on an ominous presence, resembling the wings of a Phalaena moth from which the flower takes its name; the lower part, in turn, assumes the appearance of pincer-like mandibles on the threshold of inertia, poised to snap shut, pierce and penetrate. The title of the work also hints at the sculpture’s latent sexual connotations; the heart of the flower’s anatomy is its reproductive organ, which lures insects for pollination. So, in turn, does this part suggest the human female genitalia. (Source: Marc Quinn)


6. Mat Collishaw’s Orchid 1 (2005)

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Of all the images with which he seduces and confounds the viewer, Mat Collishaw’s Infectious Flowers are probably his most beguiling achievements. On first encounter, we are struck by their exquisite colours and shapes, but closer inspection reveals their imperfections. The petals are not perfectly formed – areas are ravaged by, and almost pulsating, with a disease. In this way, the viewer becomes both seduced and horrified. Collishaw was inspired by the story of a 19th-century dandy who became so obsessed with flowers that he decided to lock himself away in his mansion that was filled with only his plants. His opulence became so much that the flowers became diseased, a parallel to the sickening of his mind.


7. Gerald Machona’s The Edelweiss (2013)

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One of the most notable aspects of Gerald Machona’s work is his innovative use of foreign currency (particularly decommissioned Zimbabwean dollars) as a medium. Initially, Machona started using the material in an attempt to convey the difficulties of the hyper-inflationary environment that Zimbabweans were living under until recently. But in 2008, it also became an interesting way to explore some of the underlying issues of class, migration and nationalism and the feelings of estrangement associated with the experience of “foreignness” while living in South Africa.


8. Banksy’s Flower Thrower (2003)

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This stencilled image may be Banksy’s most famous work. At first glance, it looks like a rioter about to throw a molotov cocktail. However, this ‘rioter’ is throwing a bouquet of flowers instead. By substituting flowers for a weapon Banksy makes us think about peace in a place we wouldn’t expect to find it. The work is surprisingly hopeful and upbeat.


9. Anya Gallaccio’s preserve ‘beauty’ (1991–2003)

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Anya Gallaccio is known for her work with organic materials such as flowers, fruits and sugar. Her installations often change over time as they decompose, sprout new life, or melt. In preserve ‘beauty’ 2000 gerberas are sandwiched between huge panes of glass and left to wither and rot. Gallaccio has described gerberas as a ‘disposable commodity’, mass-produced all year round. preserve ‘beauty’ was first displayed in the window of a London gallery, where it became a metaphor for her perception of the male-dominated art scene. (Source: Tate)


10. teamLab’s Floating Flower Garden (2015)

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With its roots anchored overhead, more than 2,000 suspended flowers float in a white bubble. As if endowed with a conscience, the flowers rise when the spectator approaches, and then descend once again. Offering a way to restore our sense of unity with nature, the interactive installation takes inspiration from a zen kôan in which a zen priest, in the 13th-century, left his meditative retreat in the mountains to teach the path of awakening. One day, he pointed to a flower in a garden and said: “The Heaven and I come from the same roots. Everything around me and myself is made of the same substance.”

Tagsmart hand-pick: Getting our spring vibes on!

With the arrival of spring, we felt like celebrating the upcoming launch of our new Smart Tag by asking some of our team members what are their favourite works on canvas when thinking of the new season.

The vast array in style demonstrates the wide diversity of taste in art amongst us. Nonetheless, one thing remains the same for all: there is plenty of enthusiasm and excitement for the days to come!

Luke Kang, Production and Fulfilment Manager & Artist 
Lois Dodd’s Self-Portrait in Green Window (1971)

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When I think of spring, nature immediately comes to mind. I feel that this piece by Lois Dodd is an embodiment of the season. The painting catches my eyes due to the use of off-green colours she uses and which I find rather curious given that the artist is known for her depiction of life and landscapes.

She portrays herself in a darker, shadowy green, giving her an undead appearance, the colours used on her self-portrait evoke a slightly sickly appearance. Yet, altogether the subject matter reflects opposing feelings, of fecundity, abundance, fruitfulness and life. I feel Dodd is making an ironic statement here possibly hinting back into the ideas of zombies and reanimation.

I also appreciate how confident she is with her painting style. She might mix paint before hand, but she doesn’t mix many colours one they are laid out on the canvas, instead opting for a flat and bold application of paint.

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Freddie Powell, Product Assistant
Alice Browne’s Powder (Poised) (2015)

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I searched ‘the best things about spring’ and the first answer to pop up was 'because it brings the hope of some sunshine for a least a few days in a row’.  I immediately thought of Alice Browne’s Powder (Poised) in which the colours of the season seem to be waiting to burst through. It’s not hard to be attracted to the almost fragrant selection of green, red and yellows on view, getting a sense for the lighter and longer days just after the clocks come forward.

Browne’s work focuses on her own fictional and imaginary architectures, shown here through connected blue lines and the works growing layered spaces between. Perhaps here she has painted spring itself, no longer just a season but a physical space for the viewer to explore and (finally) enjoy!

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Annalise Brocklehurst, Business Development & Client Services Executive
Damien Hirst’s Midas of Phrygia (2007)

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Damien Hirst’s Butterfly Colour Paintings remind me of spring because it is the time when trees blossom, a new life begins and our world becomes more colourful again. His piece with butterflies positioned in a circle suggests an idea of a cycle, with the passing of winter and the celebration of spring and life. Although some believe the piece could be interpreted as morbid and evoking death, as butterflies live on average for only a month, I believe the opposite. I see everything flourishing and it makes me feel uplifted and alive. 

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Julia Ferreira de Abreu, Marketing Manager
David Hockney’s The Arrival of Spring in Woldgate, East Yorkshire (2011)

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This monumental 32-canvas painting forms one part of a 52-part work by David Hockney. The first time I saw this gem was at Hockney’s A Bigger Picture exhibition at the Royal Academy. It was February 2012 and I had had enough of winter. Spring seemed to be too far away and this artwork made me yearn for warmer weathers, brighter skies and flowers coming into bloom. It felt as if Hockney is inviting me to slip right inside the painting and walk along that lovely path under the trees!

The Arrival of Spring’s vibrant colours scream spring and represent the change of seasons with the same enthusiasm as mine. The rich reds and greens make me anticipate what’s to come and reflect on nature’s cycles, the passage of time and the small but significant changes that unfold daily before our eyes. Conveying the beauty and grandeur of nature’s transience and the warmth of the new season, it sets us on a journey to the rediscovery of the landscape. 

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Anastasia Aya Aroukatos, PR & Marketing Executive
Hope Gangloff’s Late Night (Olga Alexandrovskaya) (2015)

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Recently everywhere I look I amazed by the sprouting colours all around me, shocked that in a city like London such vibrant colours and flowers actually bloom. Maybe I have never paid enough attention? The sensation of feeling overwhelmed by the beautiful weather and nature that envelops me during spring makes me think of this painting by Hope Gangloff.

I feel like I draw some parallels between his work and that of Gustav Klimt, who is one of my all-time favourite painters. I especially love the intricate details and colours in the clothing and room decor. These patterns remind me of that time of year that I wait for in anticipation to go into our storage and pull out my spring wardrobe which is filled with an array of colourful prints. At the same time, there is a lack of light and life in the colours, reminding me that summer is not yet here, but around the corner!

An art fair through the eyes of Tagsmart Certify artist Idris Khan

It’s not often that you’ll find a world-renowned artist roaming the halls of an international art fair. But for Idris Khan, the experience can be enriching.

“Art fairs are necessarily not for artists,” says Khan, whose work combines painting, photography and sculpture.

“What it does is it opens art to the masses a lot more. Not everyone goes to museums, not everyone can go and buy in galleries, so I think it opens up people’s minds in a much more global way.”

Artist Lee Ufan’s forgery scandal continues

Three people have been arrested for allegedly forging and selling copies of artist Lee Ufan’s paintings. A National Forensic Service investigation confirmed that the six works in question do not align with genuine pieces by Ufan. The artist, however, maintains that the 13 paintings in questions are his authentic works.

Following a tip-off last December, the police raided Seoul galleries suspected of selling fake artworks by Ufan. The following month the police said that the Certificate of Authenticity for his 1978 painting From Point No. 780217, which was sold for US$415,600 to a private collector at an auction last year, had been forged. Although the artwork itself was proven to be authentic, the incident raised further suspicions surrounding the authenticity of his paintings.

In May and July, the police arrested three art forgers for 55 fake pieces claimed to have been done by Ufan, and selling them through the same gallery implicated in the latest police discovery. With four of the 13 paintings seized by the police credited to this group and six paintings claimed to have been forged by the latest forgery ring, the source or sources of the remaining three seized paintings are still unknown.

Ufan has been steadfast in his claims that the paintings alleged to have been forged are in fact his works. “A person’s flow and rhythm are like one’s fingerprints, which cannot be imitated,” he said at a press conference in June, after examining 13 works the National Forensic Service seized and identified as fake. “They are undoubtedly mine.”

Is a dead shark in a tank really worth millions of dollars? Art, like beauty, is often in the eye of the beholder—but Damien Hirst’s infamous 1991 work, The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living, fetched a reported US$12 million for reasons aside from its creative merit. In the video above, Vox breaks down the economics behind high-profile art market sales, and explains why an art dealer’s reputation is sometimes just as important (if not more so) than a work’s creator.

Marc Quinn sculptures to go on display around Qatar

Doha will have in its midst two monumental sculptures by Tagsmart Certify artist Marc Quinn — Frozen Wave and The Origin of the World — as the Anima Gallery, The Pearl, prepares to roll out Quinn’s first solo exhibition in the region titled Marc Quinn at Anima and featuring some of his finest sculptures and paintings. The two awe-inspiring sculptures will be exhibited outdoors for the first time; one to be displayed in front of the Museum of Islamic Art, and the other outside the Anima Gallery. The exhibition opens on November 13 and will be on till February 13, 2017.

Spanish artist faces authorship lawsuit

The artist Antonio de Felipe, arguably Spain’s most established contemporary Pop artist, is facing one of the most challenging moments of his career: Fumiko Negishi, a Japanese artist based in Spain, has launched a lawsuit claiming she has painted 221 canvases signed by De Felipe.

Negishi said she worked at De Felipe’s Madrid studio for over 10 years, from 2006 until this past February, when she received a letter of dismissal citing financial reasons. Upon her dismissal, she felt that the artist did not respect her work or had any sympathy towards her situation, so she decided to tell her story.

She is not only telling her story to the Spanish media, but also to a judge. In the lawsuit, she demands that de Felipe “admits the truthful facts regarding the authorship of the paintings” and tells collectors and institutions that have purchased said works that Negishi is their author, or at least co-author.

She also demands that de Felipe rectify statements he made in media outlets claiming to be the sole author of his works, with no mention of Negishi’s contributions.

Meanwhile, de Felipe deny the claims: “[Negishi] has intervened in some areas of my paintings, but the intellectual authorship of the works is mine. Fumiko has not contributed anything to them,” De Felipe said, accusing Negishi of being disloyal and adding that she’s only “a studio assistant, like all artists have.”

Negishi, meanwhile, claims she executed the 221 paintings from scratch, based on sketches De Felipe had given to her. Negishi adds that those sketches were done by Photoshop, not by the artist’s hand, and that on occasions not even a sketch was provided as a starting point, only a photograph or an idea. Except for the original sketches, and adding his signature to the finished works, “De Felipe did not touch those paintings,” Negishi states.

Negishi’s current lawsuit doesn’t include a monetary compensation, but could be followed up with a subsequent legal process where it would be demanded.

Lucian Freud’s long-standing feud with fellow East Anglian artist Denis Wirth-Miller to feature on BBC One’s Fake or Fortune

Lucian Freud and Denis Wirth-Miller trained together at the East Anglian School of Painting and Drawing in Hadleigh but reportedly became fierce rivals. Their mutual dislike was said to be so great that Freud, grandson of the psychoanalyst Sigmund, spent decades denying that he painted a picture owned by Wirth-Miller, just to scupper his plans to sell it.

Wirth-Miller and his partner Richard “Dickie” Chopping, who lived in Wivenhoe prior to their death, found Man in a Black Cravat sometime during the Second World War. However, Freud, who referred to his contemporary as “Worst Miller”, denied it was his work, and apparently contacted auction houses to prevent its sale.

Freud, who died in 2011, once held the title of most valuable living artist, when his Benefits Supervisor Sleeping, sold for US$33.6m in 2008. Man in a Black Cravat would be worth around £500,000 if proved genuine.

Fake or Fortune, which airs on BBC One this Sunday, aims to prove the provenance of the painting once and for all.