Among the entire output of artists represented at Art Basel Miami Beach there are the famous, the international, the inspired and the expected. Conversations overheard are ones in which the V.I.P. patrons are going to acquire certain works, costs hardly working into the picture, and they usually involve the well-known.
This is clearly a marketplace. However, there are, injected into the visual melee, works that stand securely making another world emerge. Some of these works are earth-centered and environmentally concerned, not in a trendy way, not following some self-conscious groove dug into the “statement”; but carrying the inevitable angst, and love of the beauty that surrounds us. They create intimate space in Art Basel’s endless frontier.
As you approach the boundless exhibition space from the North edge of the Miami Beach Convention Center, it is hard not to notice José Bedia’s large installation, “Munanfinda.” Ancient myths are re-examined in raw, grainy totems, with a constructed skin-like alligator form, seemingly alive, overseeing the ritual. There are mysterious symbols and equations keeping watch, keeping this world eternal. Bedia is with Fredric Snitzer, in a Meridian presentation (larger, worldly installations).
Located in the Galeria Elvira Gonzalez booth is a superb large green monotoned painting by Miguel Barceló titled “Théorie synthétique de l’évolution.” Textural, oceanic entities swim in and out of space with unself-conscious abandon. They form patterns emerging from waves of infinite direction.
Wu Chi-Tsung at Sean Kelly has a momentous cyanotype reminiscent of ancient Asian scrolls. The surface appears folded creating a cloud-like landscape. The depth of a mountain range is exquisitely rendered with fractured light and shadow.
At the P.P.O.W. (New York City) booth, Guadalupe Maravilla’s “Snake in the Water” retablo also draws upon ancient structure and ritual, with sinewy and bonelike components of her cryptic wall sculpture growing around articles from the present century. The contemporary symbols read as the artifacts, with the earth-centered items some future civilization’s magic.
Also, at P.P.O.W. is Martin Wong, whose paintings of various cacti are back-to-back, gliding across the wall. The color palette is monotone, dark and mysterious. Contrast and subtle surfaces almost recall the first emerging of the cacti in a landscape of strong sun and bellowing wind.
“Dark Earth (Forecast)” by Teresita Fernández at Lehmann Maupin suggests lightning striking the ground. The entire surface is alive and rapt with ungrounded kinetic energy. Turbulent waters meet an electric sky.
Yoan Capote’s work, “Requiem (lontananza)” at Galleria Continua’s booth divides the space into a traditional landscape horizon. There is a mournful division between sea and sky, drawing from a collective sense of anticipation, whether it be waiting for a voyaging ship to finally return, or a storm approaching over the expanse. Radiant, pure and powerful, the elements are stirrings of a common experience.
These works are the ministry of unconcerned mysticism, a natural abiding of the struggling soul residing deep in the earth that borne them. I was determined to find these works, and they appeared almost in the form of a precognitive dream.
(Art Basel Miami Beach is open to the public December 1-3, 2022 at the Miami Beach Convention Center, 1901 Convention Center Dr., Miami Beach, Florida. For information, visit artbasel.com/miami-beach.)