Navigating your way through any art fair is a little like a trout swimming upstream. You get overwhelmed and tired but you realize you must push through in order to get to the finish. When I go to these things I have to mentally prepare myself for the crowds and gallery art talk that goes hand-in-hand. Luckily for me, yesterday when I arrived at the Armory show there were not a lot of people so I was able to see some of the best pieces without any of the aggregation.
Jules de Balincourt
US As In You Me And Them, 2009, Oil and acrylic on wood panel, 82x55in
I’ve been watching Balincourt’s rise for some time. I don’t know why but his work always gives me a rough Williamsburg hipster wearing plaid shirts vibe (if that makes sense).
Head No.5, 2013, Stainless Steel with PVD coating, 110 kg, 70.47 x 50.39 x 51.18 in
When I saw this sculpture all I could think is that it would attract finger prints – but with the shape of the curves and structure, I don’t think anyone could not be attracted to this Brancusi-esque piece.
I was unaware of Kahlhamer before yesterday, but this piece had a wonderful surreal quality that I could not ignore.
Adinkra Sasa, 2003, found aluminum and copper wire, 192x216in
El Anatsui is a Ghanaian sculptor who uses everyday objects like liquor bottle caps and crumpled pieces of metal sourced from local alcohol recycling stations to create fabric like sculpture that seem to be reminiscent of intricate patch work quilts that are frozen in place. When viewed up close his massively scaled sculptures are astonishing as a result of the immense detail of their meticulous fabrication.
Composition no. 18 (orange avec plumage), 2015, Textile, 72.5×84.625in
In person this tactile piece was really interesting. Each rectangle would ruffle like feathers of a bird when a person would walk by.
The Last Sight of Icarus and A Shout Within a Storm
Kaino’s work often addresses ideas about the construction of history, memory and received knowledge. For his site-specific sculpture, The Last Sight of Icarus for the Amory show, he constructed hundreds of cinderblocks cast in paraffin wax that bisected the gallery booth. For A Shout Within a Storm Kaino created a suspended mobile, constructed of more than 100 copper-plated steel arrows, that appears to change form as the viewer changes position.
85 Two People in the Water, 2013, Glass Installation
This piece is created by multiple 2D drawings on glass layered to create a 3D image. This technique creates a deep image that appears to be holographic. It’s hard to tell from the image below but Xia style borders the line between painting and sculpture.
The Frameworks of Absence, 2006
The walls of the Ronald Feldman booth is covered by Brandon Ballengee’s salon wall hanging of his continued provocative series about extinct species, The Frameworks of Absence. Brandon is known for not only being an artists but also a biologist and environmental activist. His series displays altered prints by John James Audubon, Mark Catesby, John Gould, J.G. Keulemans, Ernst Haeckel, Louis Agassiz Fuertes is hung in chronological order from 1660 to 2014. While you can tell instantly that this series is deep in meaning as well as emotionally for Ballengee, the execution is also flawless.
khalys, 2014, and somerline, 2014, Both Plexiglass
Berta Fischer’s Plexiglass sculptures consume the James Fuentes booth this year. The neon-hued and reflective fluid sculptures are instantaneously intriguing because of the light that bounces off of them and onto the sea of people walking past. The bended and twisted movements of forms that are created within the sculptures seem to be more natural to a moving piece of mylar rather than a extraordinary fixed position plastic sculpture.
I have a continued fascination with Darina Karpov’s work. Here abstractions are like being inside of an object that is undetermined organic matter. I love how intricate her designs are but because of the colors and tones she uses they are straightforward and not overwhelming.
Brandt is best known for his Lakes and Reservoirs photographs that were developed by soaking his prints in water he collected from the lake he took the photo of. In his Water & Polaroid series, he applies a similar process to multi layered duraclear and duratrans prints and then places them in an LED lightbox. While Brandt’s brightly colored photos are already alluring, the lightbox makes the colors even more brilliant.
The Nipple I Never Knew, 2015, Oil on canvas, 48x72inches
Definitely the oddest title I came across. Beautiful detail in this mirror image piece. (I’m always a sucker for anything with dogs).
St. Louis Rams (Hands Up), 2015, Charcoal on mounted paper, 65x120in
My obsession with Robert Longo’s work continues. Though with this piece you either have to be a Rams fan or a football fan that doesn’t mind having a really expensive charcoal drawing of a Rams player on your wall.
Light Ballet, 1969, Chrome, glass and electric light bulbs
If you missed the Zero exhibition at the Guggenheim last year a piece of the show is featured at the Pier 92 Modern Art side of the Armory show. The Light Ballet by Otto Piene is wonderfully ethereal. Light and shadows continuously play a magical dance on the walls of a small specially built cylindrical room dazzling each viewer as they pass by.
In 2003 I went to Venice and saw a painting by a Brazilian artist named, Beatriz Milhazes. I was shocked by its unconventional beauty. I had never seen anything like it before. The composition seemed to capture what i had always thought of Brazil to be- a beautiful tropical paradise with rough uneasy edges.
Now, 11 years later, on my recent trip to Miami I attended the Milhazes retrospective at the Perez Museum. For me to see the work of an artist who I believed could get to this level was inspiring. Standing in a room surrounded by Milhazes’ work, I believe that it is just as powerful now as the first day I saw it.
Below are the images I took at the show. (Some paintings are followed by detailed images).
To read more of my take on Beatriz Milhazes’ work click here
Miami Project is usually one of my favorite art fairs during the Art Basel week in Miami. In the past the art has been fresh and exciting but also fun. While there were remnants of the usual inspiring art that lined the booth walls, the feel of the fair was quite different and was lacking a spark. Below are the pieces that I found most appealing.
Custom Mao (Star Wars Stormtrooper)
The Fail (Borox 5)
Andy Diaz Hope
Andy Diaz Hope and Laurel Roth
Allegory of the Prisoner’s Dilemma
(Though the allure of these images called to me from across the aisle, it wasn’t until after I had walked by did it occur to me that they were by the same artist. Love the evolution of his work).
31 Flavors Invading Japan / Today’s Special, 1980-1982
The Cloisters Last Supper/Eve and Giant Squid Hunters, 2012
Oil, gold leaf, and acrylic with gold leaf frame, 123 x 120 x 3 inches
The Cult of The Self #3,
The galleries that show at the Untitled art fair often lean towards avant-garde or abstract art. However this year the selections seemed to create one big cohesive show instead of lots of small individual ones. Of course there are always hits and misses but the images below are details of the ones I liked best.
Map of the Refractorian Solar System
Goldschmied & Chiari
Assortment of Face Jugs
Devin Troy Strother
Year after year the Pulse Art fair in Miami is one of the finest. This year the fair changed from it’s longtime location at the Ice Palace to be in North Miami Beach in a more efficiently organized tent. I’m not sure whether it was the distant sounds of waves lapping against the sand or the wide aisles but the fair was refreshing. There was a mix of street artists turned fine artists, new technology, and interesting textures and evolved techniques. The images below are some of my favs.
Side note: This sculpture was created with coffee lids collected from Starbucks.
Postcards from Nowhere: Waterskiing
Roy in Yellow Interior, 1991
Can’t See The Forest For The Trees
Michael Van Den Besselaar
The Robot Portraits Series
Borrowed Landscape (Tropics of Africa, Asia and the Amazon via Brooklyn II)
The Wavy Jane
Fell in love with the Before They Pass Away series (which documents tribal cultures around the world) almost a year ago and was delighted to see the photographs at Pulse.
ArtMiami is the most commercial of all the fairs. When I say this I mean that the art is usually the most relatable to the common man or woman. Usually the concepts of the pieces can be understood within a matter of seconds. While I believe any artist who creates should be considered and valued to some degree, I also get annoyed when collectors blindly follow what is trending and little emphasis is put on the work itself.
The following images are the gems I found amongst the mediocre.
Jae Yong Kim
Discovered this collective 4 years ago in Japan. They create their art by fusing and melting plastic toys into different shapes. Sometimes cutting the shapes to reveal what has been combined. The art produced does not contain any deep concepts but the execution and technique is pretty cool.
Every year I ask myself- Do I need to go to Art Basel itself? The art does not push any boundaries, it’s targeted to high-price buyers, and it’s exhausting- Why do I need to go? The truth is, whatever hat I am currently wearing (artist, art advisor, critic, or collector), I believe you need to understand the art world at every level. Not just what you are interested in but art/artists who have attained the attention of those who’s art controls the art market and those upcoming artists who are pursuing new concepts and materials.
It seems like a silly concept that someone who is buying art at a multi-million dollar level could influence art being sold on a lower level but the truth is in the taste level. Artists who’s work is deemed unfavorable to move up the art market totem pole, for whatever reason, can not accrue a higher price. Often gallerists from lower markets review what pieces are sold and why and if their art can not be sold then it can not be shown. This whole cycle seems to defeat the entire point of art itself but this is what happens when art and money mix.
This year I asked myself questions which determined what was for sale as I walked through Basel:
-Are people playing it safe?
-Are people buying work, which are in muted tones that cannot jolt the viewer on any level? Or are people buying brightly colored work that contains a lot of shock-value?
The truth as I see it was this year was very bland. There was not a significant amount of brightly colored or muted tone art. There were no highs or lows. The fair was very one note. However I always try to find the bright side of any art exhibit, so below is what I found and liked.
(This piece was woven silk)
Heart and Space
Perito Moreno #09
(These photographs were life-sized)
On Units and Universes
Dead Monkey – Sex, Money and Drugs
Side note: In 2003 I first saw Damien Hirst’s work in person. It was a pill wall like this. I wanted to document this piece to show how limited his progression has been.
Figure of Red Elephant and Green Whale
(This painting sold for 3mil)