Art Cologne is the world’s oldest fair for modern and contemporary art of the 20th and 21st century, and as expected, the quality of works featured at the fair is top-notch. This year, approximately two hundred leading international galleries have meticulously curated and selected artworks and projects for the fair. As always, we do a bit of cherry picking and offer you our opinion on which pieces were most memorable.

1. John Bock

Ever ready to disconcert viewers is the Berlin-based artist John Bock, who presents his film Kreatürliche Unschuld (which can be loosely translated as “creatural innocence”) at the Sprüth Magers booth. Inspired by the quaint interiors of the Hindelooper Room at the Fries Museum, Bock fantasises about a historical love story that quickly turns macabre. The film is part of a bigger installation of the same title. 

2. Michael Landy

Who can forget Michael Landy’s cheeky re-mechanisation of the National Gallery’s early Renaissance paintings last year? He brings the same irreverent exuberance to Art Cologne with his two-dimensional work Multi-saint, which can be viewed at Galerie Sabine Knust’s booth. Landy mused in an interview with The Arts Desk last year: “My saints aren’t saints who do good deeds… I didn’t do any happy saints. They’ve all got sores in their heads, or they’re beating themselves with rocks…” Certainly one gets the sense that decay and degeneration are the key themes in his work, but these are never confronted morosely, but rather with an almost light-hearted dignity.

3. Katharina Grosse

Katharina Grosse’s large, immersive, polychromatic paintings need no introduction. Galerie Nächst St Stephan offers Art Cologne visitors the opportunity to see one of her painting-installations. She describes her practice as “ a continuous flux of visual intelligence constituting reality in every moment”. Energetic and highly engaging, Grosse’s work encourages people to move and think freely in a public space. 

4. Wangechi Mutu

Working frequently with paper or Mylar polyester film, Nairobi-born, New York-based Wangechi Mutu creates mixed media works that collectively form a visual protest against the conventions of aesthetics and ethnography that underpin publications like Vogue and National Geographic. Her work is represented at Art Cologne by Victoria Miro Gallery.

5. Prudencio Irazabal

Another painter whose work we found deeply memorable was Prudencio Irazabal, who employs his signature “persistence techniques” to the treatment of colour in his works. He repeats gestures of a similar nature in the same area of the canvas by applying translucent colours, revealing traces that only a laborious process can create. As such, each piece is very time-intensive, taking up to five years to make. Do look out for his painting at the Galería Helga de Alvear booth.

Art Cologne will run until Sunday 13 April.

Art Cologne, Kölnmesse GmbH, Messeplatz 1, 50679 Köln, Germany

Images courtesy of the artists and their galleries.