First Sight: Zoo Art Fair, Royal Academy, London

The new kid on the block builds up a devoted following
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The Independent Culture

As the crowds continue to squeeze down the narrow, white hospital-like corridors of Frieze, the organisers of Zoo Art Fair must surely be allowing themselves a small purr of satisfaction. Not for them the wobbly walls and hard labour of marquee construction. This young upstart of an art fair has left its original home next to the bear pavilion at London Zoo and has flown the nest of Frieze to take up residence in the elegant Grade II listed 6 Burlington Gardens, directly behind the grand old man of the art establishment, the Royal Academy.

The not-for-profit fair, which opens to the public today and runs until Monday, was created as a platform for up-and-coming London exhibition spaces.

Now in its fourth year, it has thrown open its doors to regional and international commercial galleries and non-commercial projects and collectives too. This year it is bigger than ever with 61 exhibitors including first-timers from Rio de Janeiro, Copenhagen and Tokyo.

The fair has retained its youthful vigour and quirkiness at the same time as showing signs of maturity with high-profile artists on offer alongside riskier new talents. While its imposing new location and grandiose sweeping staircase may dwarf the mainly small-scale (and therefore, to many, covetable) works on show, it also gives the fair plenty of room to grow into.

Matters get off to a shaky start on the ground floor, however, with some pointless attention-grabbing. At the Berlin-based Arratia beer stand, visitors are greeted by Javier Tellez's train-set in which a motorised bundle of $20 bills whirrs around a track and through a tunnel made from a Louis Vuitton handbag, while across the aisle at Edinburgh's The Embassy, we are invited to contemplate Kate Owens' packet of M&S crisps on a plinth and old sandwich wrappers stuck to an engraving of a Grecian urn.

Happily things improve with Dublin's mother's tankstation and its delightful small paintings by Ciaran Murphy who captures galloping horses, volcanoes and monkeys with economic splashes of paint on coloured paper, and Glasgow's Mary Mary, home to Karla Black who scooped the £10,000 Champagne Perrier-Jouet Prize for best artist at the fair for her sculptures made using cosmetics such as toothpaste, moisturiser and nail varnish.

Upstairs, New York's Roebling Hall offers an intriguing spectacle with David Ellis' record collection arranged according to the colours of the rainbow and coated in resin and his United Kinetic Trash installation, an all-singing, all-dancing sculpture made from rubbish collected in Brooklyn, Mayfair and Piccadilly.

The various London galleries also put on a good show with highlights including Anders Krisar's work in which a beeswax cast of the artist's face is placed next to a heated bronze cast of his mother's face and gradually drips away to the floor at Union and, at Museum 52, Kon Trubkovich's freeze-frame watercolours on paper which will appeal to fans of the Hayward's current exhibition. Alexandre Pollazzon and Rachmaninoff's put on classy displays, as did Riflemaker with highly desirable works by Gavin Turk and – tucked in an alcove – Julie Verhoeven's whimsical, brightly coloured female drawings on paper.

With prices ranging from £50 to £10,000, there is art here for everyone – and some innovative spin-offs too. The independent publishing company Other Criteria is offering made-to-measure silk pyjamas printed with Ashley Bickerton's gothic patterns or, if the £50m price tag for the real thing is out of reach, a T-shirt emblazoned with Damien Hirst's diamond-encrusted skull – yours to take home for just £30.

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