A man with glasses in a black baseball cap and navy baseball jacket sits at a table in front of colourful paintings
Minor Attractions co-founder Jonny Tanna © Ludovica Rosi

In a week abuzz with exhibition openings, events and art fairs, London gallerist Jonny Tanna is trying to cut through the noise with the launch of what he describes as “a new non-fair”.

With two selling exhibitions across spaces in Soho and London Bridge, the inaugural Minor Attractions seeks to offer an alternative fair model with late opening hours and a relaxed social vibe. “The idea of the non-fair is to encourage an atmosphere that’s more about discussing and enjoying the art as opposed to exclusively buying it,” says Tanna, who co-founded the event with Jacob Barnes of Grove Gallery.

Slashy abstract painting with large blue bowl-like figure outlined in yellow
‘Collision’ (2023) by Savannah Marie Harris at Savannah Marie Harris © Courtesy artist/gallery

For Tanna, who is also the founder of the Harlesden High Street gallery, the impetus for the new event was not just to create a more informal setting for encountering art, but also to offer smaller galleries and emerging artists increased visibility during the frenzy of Frieze Week.

“At the minute there’s only a limited amount of contemporary art fairs in London, but unfortunately nothing else that would cater to the emergent galleries and artists that bring so much life to London’s scene,” he says. “What’s more, most fairs are also prohibitively expensive — they create spaces where it’s very difficult to take risks because of the overheads they create.” (Tanna’s scepticism about large fairs hasn’t deterred him from bringing his gallery to Frieze London this year.)

Oil painting of a person’s feet and calves wearing white socks and black shoes as cherries fall
Detail from ‘Marching in a rainstorm of cherries and roses’ (2022) by Xiao Hanqiu at Tabula Rasa © Courtesy the artist/gallery

With Minor Attractions, Tanna aims to shake things up with a group of more than 20 galleries and non-profit art spaces which will exhibit alongside bars and live DJs sets. At the Cornershop venue in London Bridge, the focus is exclusively on London galleries such as Niru Ratnam, The Artist Room and Tabula Rasa. There will also be performances from London-based artists Emmanuel Awuni, Minh Lan Tran and Bones Tan Jones.

Soho’s Minor Attractions venue presents a more international gathering, with participants including New York’s King’s Leap, Barcelona’s Cordova and LA music label Death Row Records. The latter in particular showcases the event’s broad scope — “We also have brought in spaces that may not even be considered a gallery,” says Tanna.

Comic-book-ish painting of a dog with massive head roaring with open jaws
‘Sir Dogg’ (2014) by Riskie Brent and Joe Cool at Death Row Records © Courtesy Harlesden High Street/Death Row Records

By making the exhibitions free to enter, Tanna hopes he can “break up the elitist vibe of the week”, highlighting that many deals and connections are made at invite-only private events. “For us in the art world, so much of fairs are social. Not just with clients, but with our colleagues — we’re chatting at the booth, grabbing drinks or dinner afterwards,” he says. “This is supposed to be a space where people are welcome to come in and just hang out.”

October 10-15, minorattractions.com

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