Photographs And Portraits Steal The Show At Scope New York

Georg Kuettinger in front of his Laguna painting from his Diasec series, 2017, at the Python Gallery, Zurich, booth at SCOPE New York (photograph by Nancy Nesvet).


by Nancy Nesvet

MARCH 9, 2018, NEW YORK CITY — Newly painted white walls and large spaces for exhibitors gave the SCOPE New York International Contemporary Art Fair the look of a high-priced gallery. The two-story space, in an old office building on West 18th St in New York from March 8 through 11, gave the larger work space to reach, and all the work room to breathe. And a lot of it was a breath of fresh air from the rarefied atmosphere of the Armory Show.

The Armory Show has incredible, high quality work; most of it sold to buyers who recognize that quality, want to own it and can afford to. Armory work this year provided a tropical getaway from the woes of the world (and the grey weather outside) but the work at SCOPE was incredible as well, similarly introducing new techniques and content, politically engaged work, and providing humor but generally was more affordable for more people to buy and enjoy.

There was a lot of photography. The best was The Wild Horses of Sable Island, at the gallery of the same name in New York. It was produced by Roberto Dutesco, (2010), during a 30-year study of wild horses that escaped from ships wrecked off the wild coast of Nova Scotia. Largely un-encountered by humans, these horses, photographed by Mr. Dutesco, are beautiful wall-size silver gelatin prints, enhanced by his own poetry that was added to the images.

Equally moving were the portraits of black women made by Chicago photographer, and hair braider, Shari Crowe (Good Details Gallery, Chicago). The elaborate braided hair is bested only by the proud expressions of these confrontational women, not afraid to show their intricate style. They appear self-confident, unafraid to show their beautiful black selves. Go girl!

At the booth of Castle, The Public House of Art, in Amsterdam, there were Jenny Boot-created portraits with a distinct message. Working with Dutch portrait technique, she added a necklace of bullets and a collar of Euros to her portraits, Alexandra and Ivy, emphasizing the imposition of money and violence around the necks of the handsome, richly dressed women portrayed here. Are we speaking of symbols of power, money and bullets taking the place of jeweled necklaces? Also at The Public House of Art, Dan Bannino’s Steve Jobs-Fruitarian Diet, was a large C-print take on a sumptuous fruitarian feast in the genre of Dutch still-life.

Georg Kuettinger, at Python Gallery, Zurich, provides the segue from photography to painting with his dual process: In such works as Niagara 3, 2017, and Tides, 2017, both from his Diasec series, he returns to the location on subsequent days, photographing and then digitally combining the various views. In Tides, he re-imaged a singular timber many times to create rows of timbers rising from the sand in v-formation, making an abstract landscape, but also dividing the sand and drawing us in, Star Wars style to a new frontier.

The solo show of Okudo’s paintings, at the Mirus Gallery, Denver, booth is bright and funny, but meaningful, showing the cubist rainbow colored face of a mother holding her animation-styled painted baby while another creature stares at star-studded space. The narrative I imagine for this work is lovely. In Mirus Gallery’s group show, AEC Interesni, Kazki’s acrylic painting, Also Searching for the Happiness Gene, geometric, technicolor headed characters reside in a dystopic, psychedelic world. WTF would have been an appropriate title as well as the one the artist chose.

Moving on to sculpture, The Haas Brothers’ Group of Unique Hand-Thrown Accretions, 2017, R and Co., New York), exhibit their wonderful mix of craftsmanship with creativity, relating these tactile objects to portray nature, science fiction and psychedelia. Ghost, by Chicco Chiaro was a marble sculpture, simply formed of white marble, but as funny as the Pac-Man sculpture, also by Chiaro that stood next to it at Kastle, The Public House of Art’s booth.

Lacking categorization, Daryll Schiff’s light installation at Scope, Decending to Heaven (artist’s spelling) is a smaller version of his 24×56 foot light mural in Chicago’s South Loop. The artist donated the larger piece to give back to the community while beautifying the landscape.

SCOPE New York was a small, therefore highly navigable show that chose artists across the board domestically and internationally to represent the best of their genre. Though many had yet to achieve fame and prominence in the art world, the work I saw clearly promised that stance. See it — and maybe even buy it — while you can.

Tomorrow we are on to Volta.

(SCOPE New York 2018 continues through March 11 at the Metropolitan Pavilion, 125 West 18th Street, New York, New York. For more details, visit scope-art.com.)

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