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When asked why he prefers Urban Art over other art forms, curator Liam Patel responded simply, “Because Urban Art looks so much cooler than fine art.” And how does one select the pieces to be featured in a sale? Patel shrugged; “I pick what I like.” Perhaps these are not the standard responses you’d expect from someone curating Dreweatts' £500,000 April 6th Urban Contemporary Art sale. Indeed, Patel’s words have some chuckling, “‘out of the mouths of babes!’” and they wouldn’t be far off: At the tender age of 15, Liam Patel is the youngest curator in Dreweatts history.
For Wednesday's highly-anticipated show, Patel has picked 25 exceptional works by innovative graffiti artists, street-art stars, and mixed-media masters, including Schoony, Matt Small, and Nick Gentry. The best part? All proceeds from these pieces will benefit a local Children’s Hospice, Haven House (Update: Patel's lots were sold for £13,320. Click here to view the results).
Clearly, Patel is not your typical teen. But how does a 15-year-old become a curator? As the self-proclaimed “avid Urban Art fan” explains, it all stemmed from a desire to help. Patel heard about Haven House Children’s Hospice, which provides short and long-term care programs for children and young adults with terminal illnesses; “I got involved with their institution as even though I live [close to] the hospice, I saw on the news that they need around £2 million every year to keep running the fantastic services they provide,” he said.
Due to a broken arm and shoulder, Patel was unable to do physical charity work. Instead, he decided to try to help out the hospice through his love of art, and approached Dreweatts about hosting an Urban Art sale in its central London branch. ”I thought Haven House could use the money, especially as they rely solely on donations,” he explained. The prestigious auction house happily agreed to let the budding connoisseur curate part of the sale, and Patel was thrilled. “When I first contacted Dreweatts they were quite astounded I was curating something this big at !” he says, adding, “It’s great they considered somebody of my age.”
The proceeds from 25 of the 101 lots will go to benefit the hospice, ranging in price from £100 to £1,200. The group of works to be sold for the charity features pieces by artists such as Matt Small (see images of his works above), Schoony, Handiedan, Mantis, Nick Gentry, Herakut and Arkiv Vilmansa, all of whom were more than happy to donate the profits of their art to such a worthwhile cause.
Other highlights of the April 6th sale include works by top artists from every aspect of the Urban and Contemporary genres, like Lucian Freud, whose unusual ink Portrait of Stephen Spender has a high-estimate of £35,000. Controversial contemporary artist Stella Vine’s naked self-portrait In it for the Money is showcasing at lot 34, and several works by “tag pioneer” artist Taki will be up for sale, including a map which will be the artist’s first-ever offered at auction. Works by cutting-edge artists such as Henry Chalfant, Cope 2, Martha Cooper and Blade will also be featured at Wednesday’s sale.
And of course, what Urban Art sale would be complete without the scenes of infamous UK street artist Banksy? Several of the artist’s works will feature prominently in the sale, including his famed Family Target (see image below), which is signed, dated, stamped, and expected to fetch up to £50,000. Patel himself is an ardent admirer of the elusive artist, to whom he attributes his passion for Urban Art. “[It] started with Banksy,” he says.
The young art lover began collecting Urban Art when he was just 12 years old, with a set of prints by contemporary Australian artist Ben Frost. Since then, Patel’s collection has expanded considerably. ”I have collected Mantis, Hush, Rourke Van Dal, Eine, Ben Frost and KAWS, to name a few.”
The aspiring art aficionado also has some favorites he believes “are the next big thing.” Patel’s picks: “I would probably have to say, Matt Small who is hugely talented, Nick Gentry whose profile is really rising, and RYCA, Schoony and KGuy who I also think are going to become really big.” The teen curator’s “collection criteria” is simple: He buys what he likes. “Normally I buy a piece because I think it looks good, that way if it increases in value, it’s a bonus, and if it doesn't, I still like it, so there's no problem.”
In terms of the sale itself, Patel was amazed at how much work was involved with curating a show. “I guess the most surprising thing I learned was how time-consuming it was, as it has taken around a year and a half to curate,” the teen said. Yet clearly, Dreweatts has faith in its youngest curator’s selection of Urban Art.
So what does Liam Patel think about the future of this exciting genre? “I think the fact that its popularity is rising is fantastic, as art is to be viewed by everyone and now Urban Art is acceptable to a wider audience.” But Patel is unfazed by the status quo - regardless of how well the genre fares on the market, he will continue to collect what interests him, with one exception. “It hasn't really affected my collecting activities as I still just buy what I like...but unfortunately I still can’t afford a Banksy yet!”
Written by MutualArt.com writer Lauren Meir
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