It was a busy month of May in New York with art fairs Frieze and NADA, plus the buzz (and bust) of the auction sales at Sotheby's and Christie's. Here's a brief recap...
Igshaan Adams, Surat Al'lkhlas III (front), 2015, Woven nylon rope
ARTISTS OF NOTE
South African artist Igshaan Adams creates intricate tapestries made from banal materials such as rope, beads, and textiles depicting Kufic calligraphy and other iconographies of Islamic culture, as well as remnants of Apartheid South Africa. Evoking the work of master El Anatsui, Adams's richly layered pieces hang simply on the walls, draw you in and command introspection, calm, and careful consideration.
Igshaan Adams, Surah Al-Fatiha II (part one), 2016, woven nylon rope, beads and string
Among a strong overall showing of female artists at Frieze was Betty Woodman's eight-tiered installation Aeolian Pyramid (2001-06), undoubtedly one of the major highlights of the fair. The work is comprised of 44 glazed earthenware vessels, and it has not been shown since appearing in the artist's 2006 exhibition at the Met.
Betty Woodman, Aeolian Pyramid, 2001-2006, glazed earthenware, epoxy resin, lacquer, paint
In his enticing paintings of women, made up of crisp planes of color, Leonhard Hurzlmeier emphasizes his subjects' curvaceous forms, inflecting the works with hints of playful voyeurism, while also making nods to his Cubist forebears.
Leonard Hurzlmeier, Lotion Lady, 2016, oil on canvas
Intimately sized sculptures by Pam Lins are conceptual recreations of architectural models pictured in photographs of classrooms at the 1920s-era Moscow art and architecture school VKhUTEMAS. Evidencing the school's Constructivist leanings, the geometric forms are only partially glazed. The artist places color glaze only onto the backsides of the sculptures, adding her personal touches to the parts not visible in the original photographs from VKhUTEMAS.
Pam Lins, model, 2015, glazed ceramic
Punctuating the Brazilian gallery's expansive booth, Fortes Vilaca placed a grouping of giant rusty nails by Cuban artist duo Los Carpinteros. The playful-yet-elegant sculptures arrived straight from the artist's studio in Madrid. The sculptures draw from the duo's 2013 "Clavos Torcidos" series and cleverly coincided with the other works on view. Lining the walls were paintings by Rio artist Adriana Varejão, showing off tondos resembling color wheels filled with skin tones.
Los Carpinteros, Installation view of the Clavos Torcidos series (Twisted Nails), 2013, metal
Named for African-American abolitionist and women's rights activist, Sojourner Truth Parsons paints strong female characters, like the scintillating, silhouetted figure smoking in the darkness in her large-scale work Anthony at Night with the butterflies (2016). Ahead of her summer group show with Foxy Production and a fall solo show at Night, four paintings-evoking Tom Wesselmann cut-outs with their scrappy and material canvas glued onto canvas-were quickly sold at NADA in the range of $6,000-7,500.
Sojourner Truth Parsons, Anthony at Night with the Butterflies, 2016
Jana Schröder's performative doodles and scribble/signatures, initials, and abbreviations call on her own handwriting as a form of self-portraiture. In two of the three paintings at NADA (both priced at $8,000 and both sold on opening day), the artist's swift gestures have been scrawled with indelible pencil. The blue lead will eventually fade into graphite, raising questions of originality versus reproduction.
Jana Schroder, Spontachts DL 16, 2015, copying pencil and oil on canvas
That her four paintings (priced between $7,000-20,000) sold out within the first minutes of the fair speaks to the momentum Tschabalala Self has seen since her graduation from the Yale MFA program last spring, notably a 2015 group show at the Studio Museum in Harlem and a current show at the Hammer Museum. Self is known for her figurative collages that explore the black female body in contemporary culture. At the fair, The Engagement (2016) tells the story of a couple through hand-stitched figures formed using fabric from her family home in Harlem.
Tschabalala Self, The Engagement, 2016, acrylic, flashe, handmade paper and fabric on canvas