With 69 galleries representing five continents, 50 cities and 40 nations, VOLTA Basel 2021 is showing beautiful work. Evoking nature in several exhibitions, it satisfies my and probably your craving for natural beauty amid the emptiness and depressing devastation of cities during Covid. At Charlie Smith, London, artist Dominic Shepherd paintings are inspired by fairy tales, including “Hedge Witch-2021” and “The King is Dead, Long Live the King 2.” As we have all learned, fairy tales can be both delightful and frightening and Shepherd’s paintings attest to that duality.
Iranian artists at three galleries new to VOLTA this year, Bavon Gallery, Mohlsen Gallery and Saradipour Gallery (SARAI), repeat the natural beauty motif. At Saradipour Art (SARAI), Mahdieh Abolhasen’s layers of land and history interacting in her grey, drawings encourage a slow, contemplative connection with nature.
In another evocation of graceful lines, Souun Takeda of Japan calligraphs text with a giant brush in a demonstration of the Zen aspects of Japanese calligraphy juxtaposed with Kohi Kyamori’s interpretation of ornamentation in Asian sculpture, building a visual language, at Selene Art Media, Japan.
The flip side of exhibiting the natural beauty we all crave is the new technology that we have all learned to use or at least, look at. Bringing the latest technology to art at VOLTA, Fumiano Clase, (London)and MeetFrida Art (Hamburg) are showing NFT (non-fungible token) art as well as Ju Schnee’s transfer of digital images to concrete images and concrete to digital image. Roxanne Sauriol, also at MeetFrida Art, paints hyper-realistic portraits of women posed with technology including cameras and cellphones, doubling the image in a doppelganger way and asking, with digital images extant, which is the real thing?
At Mark Hachem, Michelangelo Bastiani plays on depth and volume, focusing on water in the most beautiful paintings while Carlos Cruz Diez’s installation of light in many colors continues the experiments in perception, again lighting up our world, rescuing from the darkness of the past year.
As we continue to consider those who have been left out of the art establishment or struggled for their place in it, women artists’ work is featured at AEDAEN Gallery (Strasbourg, France) especially showing the work of Theresa Moller.
Truly, VOLTA has outdone itself, with relevant art produced in new, creative ways. It was a joy to see online, probably even better in person. This year, I go to VOLTA to escape the real world, whether in the fairy-tale inspired paintings of Dominic Shepherd or the bright undulating colors of Carlos Cruz Diez, or so many other nature-inspired works of true beauty, and I thank all the artists for their visions of a better and brighter world.
(VOLTA Basel 2021 takes place September 20 through 26 at Elsässerstrasse 215, Basel, Switzerland. For more information, visit VOLTAartfairs.com.)