FOG Design+Art 2022: A review

Anya Cooklin-Lofting | 23 Feb 2022


Design writer, Anya Cooklin-Lofting, appraises the creative output of the annual design fair and explores the artistic impulses of contemporary designer-makers under lockdown

FOG Fair is quite the melting pot for the western design community. The annual coming-together of 45 leading international galleries and prominent design dealers took place this year from 20th to 23rd January in person at the Festival Pavillion at Fort Mason, San Francisco. For many design professionals, the fair’s draw is undeniable; galleries from London to New York, Mexico City to Los Angeles, and of course, local exhibitors from The Golden City itself, flock to FOG’s halls to conjure miniature galleries from white partitions, summoning semblances of their metropolitan seats.

Crystallization 169 by Lukas Wegwerth - Courtesy of Thomas Joseph Wright Penguins Egg Ltd for Gallery FUMI

A wealth of prestigious galleries participated this year and in their totality, presented collections and editions as diverse in form and material as they were in conception. Many pieces on display for just the first or second time were created under periods of lockdown, and the nuances in these works point towards our collective, heightened sense of introspection and loss. Lukas Wegwerth’s Crystallization series (2021, Gallery FUMI), for example, feels chillingly post-apocalyptic; his works in ceramic and salt crystal present domestic objects of everyday life in various states of defeat, frozen in time in suffocating, insidious shells. There is an eerie stillness in Wegwerth’s work that implies the absence of human influence - the absence of life itself. 

Arlene Shechet at Pace Gallery

So too does Arlene Shechet’s ceramic and powder-coated steel sculpture series, Together (2020, Pace Gallery), contribute to the artistic community’s response to the pandemic, interrogating the necessity of art in times of uncertainty and fear. Offering a glimpse of the artist’s life in quarantine, each of the sculptures is named after hours of the day. This is a now-familiar example of the pairing of instances of beauty (distanced walks at sunset, applause that ricochets down suburban streets, sourdough lodged in mailboxes) and the palpable adamant of time in moments of fear or boredom.

Mary Corse at Pace Gallery

Alongside Shechet’s sculptures at New York gallery, Pace’s booth hung Los Angeles-based artist, Mary Corse’s painting, Untitled (2020). Featuring glass microspheres, an industrial material used to divide lanes on roads, the piece is a continuation of her work throughout the 1960s, seemingly emitting light and contingent on its surroundings. According to Pace, the piece evokes Corse’s long-standing interest in the phenomenological effects of light and modes of perception. The shimmering minimalism of her work is at once austerely modern and magnetically primal, so fundamentally affecting are the principles of the Light and Space movement of Vietnam Era Southern California.

Liam Lee at Patrick Parrish Gallery

Other standout wall-mounted works at FOG included Liam Lee’s 2021 tapestries, presented by Patrick Parrish Gallery. The series of four large felted merino wool and mohair pieces were displayed against the otherwise bare white walls of the booth, emphasising their superbly rich colouring. Lee’s tapestries, each spanning over two metres, echo the twisting chaos of a Francis Bacon portrait and the lively, infectious sense of movement of Golden Age jazz bar advertisements. The New York-based artist’s primary concern is with the dissolution of boundaries between what is natural and what is contrived.

Louis XIV by Atelier Lachaert Dhanis - Courtesy of Gallery FUMI

Amongst Gallery FUMI’s collection of boundary-pushing works by international designers was Belgian artistic duo, Atelier Lachaert Dhanis’s Louis XIV (2020), another piece to blur the line between the natural and the manmade. The wall-mounted console pairs knotted, twisting teak and glossy onyx, elevating each natural material and resulting in an uncanny resemblance to the furniture associated with the reign of le Roi Soleil. Its gently scrolling wooden frame, sourced by Gallery FUMI for the artists in Bali, bulges and tapers in striking mimicry of original Louis XVI gilt work. It is truly an object of desire with appeal both in a gallery setting and in a contemporary home.

Hun Chung Lee at R & Company, photography Dawn Blackman 

R & Company’s spotlight on sculptor and maker, Hun-Chung Lee, was another demonstration of FOG’s functional furniture and sculpture offering. For over 30 years, Lee has used the 15th-century Korean techniques of celadon glazing, which ceramics collectors may know as greenware, to create his works of layered patinas. His artistic process requires an intimate engagement or a unity with the materials at hand, which can be unpredictable. The low stools and tables that Lee exhibited with the gallery at FOG are understated but uniquely beautiful; each bears the tear-stain droplets of running glaze and the faded contrails of oxidisation.

Michikawa, Grouping, Hostler Burrows

A personal favourite at FOG 2022 was the Hostler Burrows booth. A vision of its New York space, the presentation was charged with texture, movement and personality. Amongst Shozo Michikawa’s squirming stoneware columns, Kari Dyrdal’s modernist tapestries and Yuki Ferdinandsen’s subaqueous silver vessels sat the figurative work of Sakari Kannosto. And sit they did; his endearing figurative works of glazed stoneware are magnetic, with names such as Clairvoyant (2021) and Treasure Hunter (2021). The first is a patiently perching figure wearing an old fashioned marine diver’s helmet with coral-like, silver growths emanating from its arms and legs. The second is a similar piece with idiosyncratically crossed ankles and a hand resting on its thigh. The works stand between 20 and 30 inches. small despite their huge presence in any space. Positioned as they are upon bare white plinths, Kannosto’s dreamlike works appear in some way anachronistic, an unexplained oddity in the room that feels at once alien and unmistakably human.

Kannosto, Clairvoyant, Hostler Burrows