By Nancy Nesvet
Continuing the exploration, the intrepid Artscope Team, national correspondent Nancy Nesvet and publisher Kaveh Mojtabai went over the bridge to downtown Miami to explore the Art Miami and Context Fairs. At both fairs, we found more adventurous, risk-taking work, sometimes gorgeous and well-executed, and sometimes kitchy, maybe intentionally so. We saw a huge number of portraits, both photographic and painted, and figurative sculpture spanning the material spectrum.
Perhaps best in the Art Miami show for me were the photographic portraits of Niloufar Banisadr, an Iranian artist now practicing in Paris. With scriptor architectural drawings relating to the image behind the portrait, six photographs including “Mes Voyages, Mona Lisa” (2015) were quietly beautiful. David Yarrow’s 56” x 56” photograph, “The Old Testament, Dinokeng, South Africa” (2017, Holden Luntz Gallery) depicts a strong but sympathetic lion seemingly walking forward into the viewer’s space.
We saw a lot of older work, from the 1960s and ‘70sat Art Miami, including work by four of the mastersfrom the Washington Color School; Ken Noland, Morris Louis, Lou Reed and Howard Mehring. Howard Mehring’s “Vertex” (1961, Connersmith) acrylic painting looked contemporary in its hard-edged layering of color. Noland’s purple and red target painting, “Mysteries: Magic Theatre” (2000, Yares Art, Santa Fe) was last seen by this writer exhibited at the Farnsworth Museum in Maine. Rauchenberg had a good showing, with Hangout (Anagram) (1995, inkjet dye transfer on paper, Arcature Fine Art, Palm Beach, Florida one of the best Rauchenberg inkjet transfers I have seen. Robert Indiana’s “LOVE” sculpture was there, and his “AMOR” (1995, Arcature Fine Art, Palm Beach, Florida) and even an older Calder gouache on paper,(1971, William Shearburn Gallery), and his painted metal and wire sculpture, “The White Sieve” (196, Galerie Von Vertes).
There were also paintings commenting on or extending the tenet of Washington Color School painting including Damien Hirst’s “5-Hydroxyuridine” (2010, Galerie Von Vertes) looking like an old Lou Reed dot painting. A lot of Botero was there too, including his 1969 painting, “Levitaciones de Santa, Juana de Avila” (1968) and “Picador” (2005, Ascaso Gallery) and several other paintings and sculptures. Boteros were only one brand leading the pack of animal sculptures at Art Miami, noting Botero’s bronze “Donna a Caballo” (2011), and his bronze “Cat” (2009, Ascaso Gallery). Truthfully, I loved the sheep and lamb trio of sculptures by Francoise avier Lalanne, named “Brebis, Beller and Agneu,” 1996-2010, David Benrimon Fine Art, New York, and their backing by one of Kusama’s Infinity Net paintings (“Infinity Net, BAE,” 2015) behind it, made it even better. Was that Kusama picked for its name, pronounced with the voice of the sheep’s Baah? A sense of humor only enhances the work.
Glitz was big, and generally adorned abstract canvases. Whether coated in French gold, gold dust or commonplace glass glitter, the work was brilliant, and provided reflective but opaque surfaces. Gone was the reflectivity of Switzerland’s Basel Fair this past June, and gone from Art Miami were the reflective surfaces encountered in Art Basel Miami Beach 2016. These were luscious adornment only, particularly seen in Olga De Amaral’s “Moon Basket 50A” (1991) and “Poblodo L,” (2016), both acrylic and gold leaf on linen. Luscious also were the flowers and fruit paintings looking like Dutch still lifes.
Alex Katz’s “Black Dress” (portfolio of nine), 2018, were fashionable cutouts of powder coated aluminum, extending his practice depicting fashionable women to small sculptures on stainless steel bases. Standing in front of his flower paintings, I reveled in a complete Alex Katz installation (Nicola Rukaj Gallery).
This was the fair to pick up a Chagall, and a masterful one at that. “Le Cirque au Village” (1966, G), or a painting by the wildly popular Yayoi Kusama, “Pumpkin” (1991) and “Nets” (1990, Galerie Von Vertes, from the acrylic painted “Infinity Nets” series, all at Galerie Von Vertes).Kusama’s work at Art Miami crossed the line with shiny work made with spray paint and mixed media for a great result in “Silver” (1982, Galerie von Vertes). Richard Prince’s “Untitled” (Cowboy), inkjet and acrylic painting (2012, David Benrimon Fine Art), left me on Happy Trails to explore Context.
The Context exhibition followed, marked outside by Kai’s fiberglass sculpture, “Love vs. Money” (2017,12’, Markowicz Fine Art), with a figure cheerfully trying to pull a heavy bag of presumed money into the sky with him, but weighted down.
There were paintings clearly influenced by Dutch Still Life, including Janet Rickus’ “Sunkissed” (2017, oil, Gallery Henoch, New York) and Luciano Ventrone’s “Celtico” (2012, oil, Galleria Stefano Forni, Bologna). At Context, Banksy was clearly popular; all his seven pieces sold including the masterful “Lenin on Rollerblades” (2004, spray paint on canvas, (Galerie Von Verte), and his “LoveRat on Wood” (2004, Lionel Gallery, Amsterdam). Howdoes he so control the spray paint to make the figure so precise and detailed? Shepherd Fairey’s silkscreens on wood panel, “Media Target,” “Wake Up, I See Static (Red)” and “Peace Guard 2,” all sold.
The parade of Glitz and glitter continued, here with an elegance to it, as in the Korean artist Jongsook Kim’s “ARTIFICIAL LANDSCAPE, Luminous Red Mountain” (2017, mixed media and Swarovski crystals) and Mountain Gold (2017, mixed media and Swarovski crystals) making the mountain landscape even more luminous. Arno Elias’ elephant portrait, “Jumbo 7” (2017, acrylic, gold and silver leaf, diamond dust archival pigment print, Blankspace Art), took animal photography to an entirely new level. Kim In Tae’s “Gorilla” (2017, stainless steel Liquid Art System), capitalizes power mixing a gorilla with hard steel. Federico Uribe’s “Horse and Bear” (2016, Adam Adelson Galleries, Boston) ofBullet Shells was an amazing use of recycled gun shells used to produce beautiful but powerful art. The artist agreed with this assessment.
Not as shiny, but beautiful is Soon Lee’s “Frame City,” a digital photographic print, where shuttersopen to a view of a blue sky with single cloud (2012), both displayed by Gallery NOW, Seoul, Korea. Haqyun Choi, in “Gaze 11” (LaLanta Gallery),invented a fascinating process where she projects a photograph on one side of the paper, tracing it with silk thread to make a convincing portrait. Similarly inventive, Suh Jeong Min, in “The Old Memory V” (2016, Jan Rosen Contemporary), rolls up thousands of small hanji paper scrolls, the size ofcigarettes, with prayers written on them to construct what she calls “timeless structures of geometry with cultural references.”
Max Leiva’s 8-foot high bronze sculpture, “Generacion 2” (Tenn Contemporary), seems influenced by Easter Island sculptures, but are here in black bronze with sharp edges like Picasso’s sculptures. Hiroko Tsuchida’s “Push Beyond One’s Limit” (2017, Gallery G77), uses plastic needles to form the bird, trending with other sculpture here using unusual, and threatening materials.
So, totally exhausted and exhilarated by the quality and quantity of the work at Art Miami and Context, we are off to see a drone display in the sky tonight. Keep checking in with us to see the next two fairs and continue to enjoy the ride.
(Artscope Magazine is reporting live from Art Basel Miami Beach and Miami Art Week throughout the week of December 4-10 on its Facebook, Instagram and Twitter pages as well as ArtscopeMagazine.com. You can see all of our reports in one place on the Artscope Magazine app, downloadable at https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/artscope-magazine/id659051872 ).