New York, NY – Following the near debacle of the Volta show, rescued by Peter Hort, David Zwirner, the Scope Art Fair, and other generous gallerists in New York, the satellite shows, Plan B and Scope, exhibited better art and were happier and more exciting places than the Armory show. SPRING/BREAK, occupying space in United Nations Plaza, also showed some interesting work, although less risky than last year’s.
Although Hort claimed to be a total, though willing novice at producing arts shows, he did an amazing job, with cooperation from curators, gallerists and artists, producing a show of interesting, well-executed art that hung together quite well. Greeted by a coffee car parked in front of Zwirner’s gallery space on West 21st St., in New York, due to the inability of those running Plan B to secure a coffee truck, I was struck by the volunteer effort and love of the project by all participants.
That love was exhibited in Rebecca Bird’s “Ring,” 2019, acrylic on canvas, shown by Kopeikin Gallery, Los Angeles, where a group of women clasp hands and joyously circle dance. Borinquen Gallo’s Totemic sculptures, at Burning in Water, New York, of disposable and disposed materials, surrounded by caution tape, are reminiscent of her upbringing in the Bronx. The two monochromatic sculptures shown, of shredded materials, one green, one red recall the fields of grass in parks in the Bronx and in red, the fields of fire, and blood that necessitated the caution tape.
Also at Plan B, Jochen Hein’s acrylic on wood photographs, including “Reflection,” 2019, and “Brecher,” 2019, shown by Galerie Thomas Fuchs of Stuttgart, Germany were every bit as menacingly gorgeous as Gerhard Richter’s, another long ago resident of Stuttgart. Iler Melioli, at yvonneartecontemporanea, Vicenza, Italy, played with space, with a huge painting backgrounding a sculpture that mimicked its angular geometric forms, whereas Oleksiy Sai’s “Mould,” 2009, a print at Voloshyn Gallery of Kiev, Ukraine, visualizes the life of white collar workers using a language of numbers and excel phrases. He pointed out that these are reproducible digital works, but they only programmatically exist in one iteration.
Fausta Squatriti’s diorama of a primary colored, monochromatic boat (with an uplifted arm presumably calling for help) and dark sky filled with friendly clouds, at Galleria Bianconi Milano, underscores the fun part of this show. Sam Burford, exhibiting at Fiumano Clase, London, makes photographs of snippets from famous films, ultimately providing the visual contents of the film and relief sculptures from musical compositions, including “Structure of Thought ,” 2015, Jesmonite, steel and aluminum. His 2018 treatment of the “Wizard of Oz,” presented in black and warm-colored frames on top and bottom, and brightly colored green, orange and red in the middle segments, refer to the color change when the actors reached Oz. Golnar Adili’s “Pillow Chest,” 2014, of printed Japanese paper, batting and hand-stitched pattern glass with thread, shown at Mark Hachem, Paris, used handicrafts to overstitch the paper of artistic practice. The stitched Persian patterning of the “chest” adds another dimension to this beautiful work.
At Scope, visitors universally agreed that this was Scope New York’s best show yet. Thomas Canto’s “Cyclic Superimposed Perspective,” 2019, mixed media), from Mirus Gallery, San Francisco, was a visual journey to far back space: a two-dimensional rendering of a light room with even more impact due to the black, white and mirrored geometric formal structure. Lucio Carvalho, a Brazilian artist with Chic Evolution in Art, Rio de Janeiro, explained that, when he was a boy in his grandmother’s house, he hid under a huge banquet table to draw. In “Dama de Murano (The Murano Lady),” he dresses his photo-realistic painted figure in a masked helmet to show his limited vision. Showing only the top of the figure in her Sargent-like silk dress visible to him, the rest of the figure was hidden to him by table skirts.
Scope was the most political of the satellite shows, with paintings such as Frank Morrison’s “When I Rule the World,” oil and spray paint on canvas, at Richard Beavers Gallery, Brooklyn, New York, where a black woman, with natural hair, athletic shoes and a Napoleanic jacket, holds a scepter in her outstretched hands. Gabriel Soifer’s “Art Books,” at Samuel Owen Gallery, Greenwich, Connecticut and Nantucket, Massachusetts, showed several wonderful walls of imaged books, each devoted to a specific subject: cooking, art, travel, literature. It put the personal concerns of the artist on display, giving us an insight into his artistic practice. Like the list of books submitted by each artist represented at 2017’s Venice Biennale, it hopefully encouraged viewers to explore unknown territory.
Samuel Owen also showed Charles Patrick’s many repeated patterns of butterflies, forming the word Love. “Love Blue,” recalled both Damien Hirst’s butterflies and Robert Indiana’s LOVE pattern. New York’s Emmanuel Fremin Gallery showed Israeli artist Drew Tal’s “East of the Sun” photographs that almost made me cry with their beauty and message. A young Asian girl held a cardinal in her hand, in “Porcelain Dynasty,” and in “Trust,” a dove was let go above her outstretched hand. Tal claims to produce the “cultural essences of Eastern civilization, “exploring what connects us to one another.”
Although most work at SPRING/BREAK was somewhat lacking in artistic quality, Arghavan Khosravi’s painting, “She Lived a Dream,” 2018, acrylic on found wood, block printed fabric, acrylic on canvas mounted on two wooden panels, part of “Within/Without,” curated by Kristen Smoragiewicz, stood out. The beautifully painted, photorealistic painting shows a female figure, wrapped in a Persian patterned hand-printed, wooden stamped Ghalamkar fabric, covering her face and expression, playing with the trope of hiding and revealing.