Art Fair Rewind

May 13, 2014

Hans-Peter Feldmann + Anish Kapoor @ Massimo Manini

I hit 5 fairs in 3 days and have the blisters to prove it… Each fair had its own vibe and some standout artworks worth mentioning here:

FRIEZE: I began with Frieze Art Fair on Randall’s Island where shiny sculptures by art stars like Anish Kapoor, Jeppe Hein, and Tomás Saraceno mingled with the playfulness of Yinka Shonibare MBE and KAWS. Kapoor and Hein are perennial art-fair favorites. Their highly polished curved reflective sculptures draw collectors in like magpies, myself included. They alter your perception of space and your own sense of scale changes in relation to them. (Side Note: the fabulous Shoes by Hans-Peter Feldmann express exactly how my own feet felt after hours of walking in heels. Ouch!)

Jeppe Hein @ 303 GalleryTomas Saraceno @ Tanya Bonakdar

KAWS @ PerrotinYinka Shonibare @ James Cohan

The works of both KAWS and Shonibare operate within the context of contemporary culture and globalization. However, while KAWS is rooted in animation proliferation Shonibare is rooted in post-colonial identity. From afar, Shonibare’s work looks like a massive woven textile – a reference to his Nigerian heritage – but up close we see it’s constructed using small plastic toys and figurines collected here in NYC.

Elaine Lustig Cohen @ P!Ryan Wolfe @ And Now

NADA: The work of Elaine Lustig Cohen, Ryan Wolfe, Sara Cwynar and David X. Levine wowed me at the Nada Art Fair. Cohen is a hip 87-year old who, when P! gallery’s booth couldn’t accommodate her brightly patterned canvas, said f**k it, hang it on the ceiling! A few booths over I saw what I thought were photographs with a heavy sepia tone by artist Ryan Wolfe. But these are not photographs at all; they’re giant Petrie dishes full of mold. Yep, that’s right. Wolfe swabs doorknobs and observes the bacteria as it multiplies and festers in the shallow basins. Then, he covers them with a frame and hangs them up. Disgusting yet fascinating.

Sara Cwynar @ Cooper ColeDavid X. Levine @ Steven Zevitas

Sara Cwynar tears pages from photography guidebooks, places them on a scanner and moves them around as the laser pans. By disrupting the process, the scanner freaks out and distorts the resulting image. Portions of the image are shifted out of place and unexplained streaks of cyan, yellow, magenta, and black appear across the picture. Down the aisle at Steven Zevitas Gallery, David X. Levine wins the award for best use of colored pencils. His bold drawings require so many that the wax eventually melds together and creates sheen on the surface. His purposely-imperfect geometric shapes and collage aesthetic don’t take themselves too seriously, allowing you to enjoy his exploration of color and form without pretension.

Fernand Leger @ Chowaiki & Cophoto 3-1

Motherwell, Indiana, Warhol @ Arcature Fine ArtScully, Twombly, Sultan @ William Shearburn

Downtown Fair: If you prefer a bluer chip then the Downtown Art Fair was your jam. Modern and Pop masters made an appearance and I only wished my bank account could allot for these small treasures. There were lovely intimately-scaled works by the likes of Léger, de Kooning, Motherwell, Twombly, and Wesselmann. I didn’t linger here for there was no AC in the armory and I was melting…

Installation View @ Baumann + MuksianBill Traylor Tony Cox @ Marlborough Chelsea

Outsider Art: The Outsider Art Fair had a quirky crafty folky air about it. And I don’t mean that pejoratively. Appearing in a few booths was leader of the outsider artist pack, Bill Traylor (1854-1949), the self-taught artist who was born as a slave on an Alabama plantation and didn’t begin art-making until the age of 82. I also saw interesting collaborations and installations at Baumann + Muskian and Marlborough Chelsea.  The latter showcased works by the somewhat mystical skater-turned-artist Tony Cox. He maps out the colors and patterns of his works both consciously and subconsciously and then sews thread directly onto the painted canvas.

 Thomas WitteSharka Hyland @ Gallery Joe

PULSE: I ended the weekend with Pulse Art Fair.  I’d almost hit my saturation point until a few remarkable works held my attention. I’m obsessed with obsessive labor-intensive artworks so I immediately gravitated to two particular artists in the fair: Thomas Witte and Sharka Hyland. Witte’s retro images (left) are carefully cut from a single sheet of archival paper. It’s this OCD-thing that really hooks me, and the tiny little slices he has to make to achieve the detail. Even his signature is cut from a little piece of paper. While Witte’s pieces could be used as stencils, they are clearly more interested as stand-alone unique works.

If I could take home one item from all of the fairs, it would be Hyland’s drawing, Henry James, Roderick Hudson (92), 2013. While the image shown here (right) looks like nothing more than a printed excerpt from James’ novel, it is surprisingly a freehand drawing with each letter meticulously rendered. In her control, life is breathed into the already melodic words as the passage leaves its literal form and enters a visual state.


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