The early December art fair that corrals together the Who’s Who of art, fashion and plain rich people has landed for its thirteenth incarnation in the unlikely, yet-oh-so appropriate Florida oasis of Miami. Art Basel Miami Beach is a particular demon of the international art circuit whose heated press coverage grows yearly with arguments of excess and overindulgence. While much is made of the overwhelming glut that has become synonymous with art fairs in general, but Basel in particular, Art Basel Miami Beach must be given credit for its spectacular showmanship, rigorous, star-studded programming and effort to engage across disciplines. Plus, the parties are fun.
Wednesday’s preview was an expected array of blue chip galleries yielding their “best of” – the typical neo-expressionism, geometric abstraction and shiny sculptures. However, there was a definite theme of presenting work that engaged with less traditional objects and instead opted to explore more timely notions of networks, screens and the image.
As expected, both in life and at art fairs, guests of the preview nursed their iPhones like baby blankets, coddling them in their hands and vigorously snapping shots of everything and anything. In light of this perverted relationship we’ve come to have with our mini devices, the below Art Basel picks take on an additional element of relevance in the site of the fair, and are no doubt already littered across the internet themselves, playing out those very idea about networks, screens and the image that the works raised in the first place.
Sadie Coles HQ
An abbreviated version of Urs Fisher’s solo show Melodrama, seen last year at Sadie Coles HQ in London has been adapted and installed in spectacular fashion. Lime-green plaster raindrops, bulbous and amorphous, are suspended in a globular cloud by near-invisible translucent string throughout the cubed space. It is impossible for their surreal and cartoonish roundness to escape the notion of digital. This is even further understood through the inventible documentable of the installation, when the three dimensionality is flattened via the photograph into a Pixar-like dream world.
New York, NY
New York Gallery Metro Pictures has curated a concise group of artists working in conceptual photography through a range or intellectual disciplines such as costume, alchemy and surface. Among the expected yet still exceptional circle (Cindy Sherman, David Maljkovic and Sara VanderBeek), Danish artist Nina Beier’s “Demonstrator” prints from 2014, are particularly fascinating in their craftsmanship. The artist has awkwardly stretched her vinyl print over the frame’s confining edges. The image, crumpled and askew, takes on an objective physicality that, while sculptural, also underscores its inherent flatness, as though it is trying to release itself from the formality of its rectangular expectation.
Mendes Wood DM
Sao Paolo, Brazil
Hailing from Sao Paulo, Brazil, Mendes Wood has approached the site specificity of the art fair with an opportune perspective and has chosen to curate a five day immersive installation by artists Cibelle Cavalli Bastos and Patricia Leitie. The traditional white booth has been completely transformed, with every inch covered in a manic mess of images and objects. Titled the Las Venus Resort Palace Hotel, Cavelli performs within the enclosed space as Sonja Khalecallon, an alter ego of the artist who explores the “techno-capitalist obsessions in which contemporary society is entrenched.”
Cherry and Martin
Los Angeles, CA
Bringing together works made specifically for Art Basel Miami Beach, Cherry and Martin showcase West Coast artist Brian Bress and Jennifer Boysen. Each exploring the soft spot between new technologies and contemporary art practice, Bress and Boysen independently look at how the former informs the later, and what role the screen plays in mediating content from digital to real life.
For David Hockney’s latest series “The Arrival of Spring” the artist has used the crude technology of his iPad to create whimsical and vividly colored gestural landscape drawings. Part novelty, part new media, the rounded blunt markings of a finger-to-screen touch have been finessed through abundant layers that demonstrate Hockney’s adept ability for line and colour.
Text by Devon Caranicas
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