Two facts about the world of contemporary art. Fact one: London is now the undisputedly cool place to be if you are a young maker of, or dealer in, the right sort of contemporary art. Fact two: for several years much of the smart trading in this increasingly valuable commodity has been done at international art fairs in Basle, Chicago, Cologne and Berlin but notably not in London.
No one is more aware of this apparent discrepancy than the organisers of ART 97, this year's London Contemporary Art Fair, which opens to the public in Islington on Wednesday. They are in a tricky position: on the one hand they have an event which is an established success with the picture- buying public, who come in their thousands in search of paintings to brighten their homes and lives. On the other, they know that the eyes of the art world are on London and, that with enough support from the fashionable few, they might just turn their fair into a significant event in the international art calendar.
They still have some way to go, but ART 97 is a step in the right direction and provides a welcome chance to see a selection of established and emerging dealers gathered under one roof. It is a hectic and exhausting mixture, but happily, three leading galleries have been persuaded to present mini- exhibitions of single artists which promise small moments of calm in the chaos. These are Stephen Conroy at the Marlborough Gallery, Maurice Cockerill at Bernard Jacobson and Anthony Gormley at White Cube - all worth the trip to N1 even without the 80 or so other galleries, artists and dealers that are also setting out their stalls.