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Charting new territory: a gallery consortium builds an art fair showcasing Scandinavian culture.

Three years ago, the dealers behind five Copenhagen-based art galleries decided enough was enough. Denmark's capital city needed its own art fair. The Norse were garnering a lot of attention from the art world, Nordic galleries were making the art-fair circuit, and in 2012, New York's Armory Show dedicated its Focus section to Nordic countries. "There was a growing interest in artists and galleries from the Nordic region," says Jesper Elg, a founder of VI Gallery and one of the gallerists behind Chart Art Fair. "It felt natural to create an ambitious platform for the art scene in Copenhagen. "

The city is home to some of the most important museums and most striking architecture in the world, and it's become a hotbed for a community of working artists--including Simon Starling and Tal R--so a contemporary art fair was perhaps an obvious next step. This context spurred Elg and the gallerists behind Galleri Susanne Ottesen, Galleri Bo Bjerggaard, Andersen's Contemporary, and David Risley Gallery to form a fair together. "The art scene here is amazing for a city of this size," says David Risley, who moved his gallery from London to Copenhagen in 2009.

Less than a year after their first discussions, in 2013, the debut edition of Chart opened. Housed in a 17th-century palace, the Kunsthal Charlottenborg, the show featured 28 contemporary art galleries from the region, each participating on an invite-only basis. Some lessons were learned in that first year: "ventilation is important when you have a lot of visitors in a beautiful palace from 1672," Elg jokes--though for the most part, the fair was a success, drawing foot traffic from international collectors in search of new talent (the 2014 edition saw the number of international collectors in attendance surpass the number of regional collectors), as well as a local art-minded crowd. "We get a lot of collectors coming to the fair from Holland, Germany, the U.K., Scandinavia, Belgium. They're attracted by Copenhagen as a whole--the restaurants, the design--with a focus on Chart," Risley says.

What makes the fair different from most art fairs is its layout: There are no booth walls, but instead one open, exhibition-style installation. "Galleries work together to make the best presentation of the artists they represent," Elg says, "so everybody is working together to create one great exhibition instead of 28 individual booths." This year, the fair is adding new programming, including Chart Performance, a series of live performance pieces curated by Francesca Gavin, and Chart Architecture, for which students from three Nordic schools of architecture have been invited to design seven pavilions that will house the pop-up restaurants in the fair's gastronomy section. "There are so many good works [being] collected for a long weekend at Charlottenborg," Elg says excitedly of this year's edition. "It's comparable to how heavy metal fans feel about heading for a weekend at Rock-am-Ring."

Gallerists Jesper Elg, left, and David Risley in Copenhagen.

PORTRAIT BY LEA MEILANDT

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Author:Cashdan, Marina
Publication:Surface
Date:Aug 1, 2015
Words:490
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