Earlier this summer, visitors wishing to see the sculptor Charles Hadcock’s impressive bronze sculptures found themselves not at a Mayfair gallery, but 60 Threadneedle Street – an office building in the City a stone’s throw from the Bank of England. Elements was the latest pop-up exhibition hosted by Encounter Contemporary, an online gallery that launched last year as an innovative way for contemporary art collectors to engage with – and purchase – art. “We are creating a gallery without walls,” says co-founder Alexander Caspari, who with his partner Jordan Harris, have between them worked at Sotheby’s, Christie’s and Phillips, and several London galleries.
The pieces displayed at Elements – such as the oversized, geometrically intriguing Maquette for Caesura VIII (£8,500) – were just a handful of Hadcock’s works that Encounter features on its site. Hadcock’s reflective bronze works are reminiscent of the inside of a clock – functional but delicate and decorative – despite their enormous size. Also mechanical-like is the stunning Maquette for Caesura VI (£25,000, second picture) that further speaks to Hadcock’s interest in mathematics and engineering.
Another sculptor on the site is Katusha Ostroumoff Bull, who works with unusual stones; the curved, Italian ice alabaster Artemis (£16,500, first picture) has a glowing pale brilliance, while a stunning turquoise and beige Tintamarre (£15,000, third picture) is hewn from Patagonian onyx.
With around 50 artists represented, Encounter covers a range of talents and media. There is Dalit Leon, for example, an Israeli painter living in the UK, whose stunning oil paintings are inspired by nature, such as the darkly surreal Edge of the World (£5,350, fourth picture). Meanwhile, the paintings of Rotterdam- and Seoul-based artist Hyojun Hyun have a photographic quality, a nod to Salvador Dalí’s work, to wit: Intermission and Playground I (both price on request).
By embracing the digital age to connect collectors with art, Encounter is a new force in an increasingly competitive, and crowded, market. As Caspari says: “How audiences collect art is significantly changing, and it’s important to recognise that.”