MIAMI ART FAIR REVIEW
Art Basel in Miami Beach is firmly entrenched as one of the most sought-after and meticulously planned events on the American art world calendar... it's the year's biggest opportunity to connect with global buyers. The Guardian declared that the show is "the most prestigious art fair in the western hemisphere" and "the best by far" in the United States. The majority of exhibitors reported strong sales and many reported sold out booths, not only to private museums and institutions, but to esteemed VIPs and new collectors as well.
Here is a rundown of some of our favorite works.
Thomas Bayrle, Rhapsody in Pink, 2015,
acrylic digitalprint on canvas
A pioneer of German Pop Art, Thomas Bayrle is best known for his 'super-forms', large images composed of iterations of smaller cell-like images. Humorous, satirical, and often political, his paintings, sculptures, and digital images are commentaries on the systems of control and domination in a rapidly globalizing economy. Bayrle draws readily on his experience of Cold War Germany as a microcosm of broader power struggles. This piece is based loosely on a work by Caravaggio and is created out of small iPhone images.
Mickalene Thomas, Untitled (Futurist Brooch), 2015,
aluminum with aluminum leaf
Known for her photography and multi-media installations, Thomas is now exploring the world of sculpture. These designs are based on her mother's jewelry. They are digitally scanned and enlarged to monumental scale. With these works, she has moved away from sculptural elements that celebrate and memorialize an individual and is interested in cementing and transforming small objects into a new language for contemporary sculpture. It was important to Thomas to reproduce all of the minor imperfections of the originals, as these details create a certain intimacy between the larger works and their viewers. The sculptures make allusion to different artistic genres-futurism, high modernism and kitsch-and are grounded by their basis as found objects and by their alluring materiality, which calls up themes of commerce and desire.
Jacob Hashimoto, Ordinary Light, Gyroscopes and Possibilities, 2015,
oil on linen
Jacob's six new oil paintings are a departure from his signature 3-dimensional pieces, usually created from innumerable hand-painted and collaged rice paper and bamboo "kites." These typical visually striking works engross viewers through their organizational, geometric complexity, changing sight lines, and sheer beauty.
Within Hashimoto's new series Cosmic Fugue, the expansive and effervescent nature of his work becomes more organized and contained with bold visual graphics. His aesthetic inspiration stems from the space race era and 1960s California "Hard-edge" Abstraction.
Martin Wong, Psychic Bandits (I), ink on paper
PPOW's installation of the late Martin Wong (1946-1999) "poetry" scrolls showcased well the overlap across media of Wong's exceptionally meticulous and bravura letterings, which variously recall Islamic and Sanskrit calligraphy, graffiti tagging, and comic book illustration. They are far-ranging in content and savvy in their literary moves - from breezy free association raps to hard existential noir. The compressed, stylized letterings - which seem to unspool a stream of consciousness yet are nonetheless carefully calibrated to narrative and thematic purposes - so clearly denote the ongoing creative explosion of Wong's thought processes. The texts stand out, demonstrating Wong's thinking as he contemplated concerns as profound as the creation of the universe and as specific as the troubled encounters of van Gogh and Gauguin, always with striking wit and substance. They reveal a love for hand-style that would prefigure his involvement in the New York graffiti world. A connoisseur of graffiti art, Wong's collection grew to be perhaps the largest in the world. Five years before he died, he donated it to the Museum of the City of New York. In many ways, Wong has become a folk hero of the East Village art scene, forever a man taken too soon but leaving a wealth of work whose legacy is just beginning to find its way.
Alex Dodge, The Wumpus, 2015, oil on linen
Alex Dodge lives and works in Brooklyn, NY.
Dodge's art has often explored the relationship between technology and human experience in varying degrees of subtlety. Much of Dodge's work makes use of digital processes such as computer generated imagery though often physically mediated through historical art making techniques and processes. His latest series explore the dimensionality of fabrics and the depth it takes on through paint. His works are included in a number of public collections including The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Museum of Modern Art, The Whitney Museum of American Art, and The New York Public Library.
Shio Kusaka adorns her ceramics with marks, grids, and stripes inscribed into the vessels themselves, delineated by color. Working primarily in white, brown, and gray, Kusaka forms the cylindrical and pear-shaped pots in occasionally counter-intuitive combinations of pattern and shape. Kusaka's works are distinguished by a subtly imprecise handmade aesthetic imparted by impressions of the artist's fingers and visible glaze drips. Kusaka, wife of artist Jonas Wood, doesn't merely work alongside her talented husband in a shared studio. They continually refer to each other's works in their own: Wood's highly sought-after still-life interiors often include rows of striped and speckled pots and planters that echo Kusaka's ceramics. Kusaka, in turn, often mimics images from his canvases-from his signature plants to basketballs-on her pots.
Laeh Glenn, All This and More, 2015, oil and acrylic on linen
Los Angeles-based Laeh Glenn's work directly addresses the traditions and formal tropes of painting with a nuanced awareness of contemporary culture's excess of and accessibility to images. Her paintings have a contemporary fresh vibe with a wall appeal that's clean, straightforward and easy on the eyes. Her latest works showcase Laeh's 21st century take on abstract expressionism, pop and minimalism styles.
Chip Hughes, Like Pollen From a Flower, 2015, oil on canvas
While dense and intimately sized, New York artist Chip Hughes's neo-modern abstractions manage to evoke gestural painting on a much grander scale. His meticulously rendered abstract paintings recall quilting with its grid and wavy lines that he achieves by painting on the canvas and then scraping the paint off so as to attain the desired depth and affect. The pictorial field is a lattice of shifting geometries evoking finely woven tapestries, which otherwise transfixes the viewer's gaze from a steady and knowable image that lies between representation and abstraction as well as between image and monochrome.
Lisa Schulte, Untitled Wood Series #1, 2014, Neon tubing and driftwood
Lisa Schulte is a transplant from New York, raised in Southern California, known for her work in neon. While having created many classic "sign type" neon pieces over 30 years, Lisa stays away from the traditional use of neon in her own personal work. Her pieces include abstract neon sculptures reminiscent of the 1960's Spirograph drawing as well as her preternatural love for eighties disco. Her works are poignant for the fact that they elegantly fuse these passions within an organic and conceptually striking capacity. Her work has been exhibited in many galleries across the United States including museum exhibits at Museum of Neon Art and commissioned work for the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
Katherine Bernhardt, Mr. Tostones, 2015, acrylic and spray paint on canvas
Katherine Bernhardt first garnered the art world's attention with her portraits of fashion models, exploring hyper-real fashion photography and mainstream notions of beauty. More recently, she has focused her energies on a series of "Pattern Paintings" - large-scale works in tropical, sherbert hues depicting banal consumer goods, arranged in the style of jazz patterns. Fluid and hurried, Bernhardt's canvases are seemingly provisional, radiating energy so as to express the pleasure of art-making. First exploring patterns in the context of imported rugs, Bernhardt's more recent works stem from an interest in Dutch wax printing and the all-over patterning of African textiles. Her subjects are selected and grouped according to underlying emotional associations-whether hamburgers, french fries, and basketballs; or coffee, cigarettes, and pizza-and broken down into elemental details, pure forms, and swaths of color to build simpler, yet expressive, arrangements.
Sean Townley, Untitled, 2015, Carbon fiber, resin, aluminum frame
The notion of surface capture is approached from multiple directions in Sean Townley's wall sculptures. Drawing upon a collection of three dimensional scans of classical statuary, the artist has produced cast carbon fiber molds, originating out of clay designs that he lays over frames. He references how sculpture is preserved and how technology can play an important role.
Judith Henry, Bag Face, 2014, archival inkjet print
For over 40 years, Judith Henry has created evocative multimedia artworks that explore the friction between our interior lives and public selves. Henry's projects often repurpose documentary materials like newspapers, telephone books and film clips in poignant explorations of identity and loss. She incorporates photography and other documentary tools to explore the misalignments between cultural representation and inner psychology. In her latest "The Artist is Hiding" series, Henry makes abstract paintings that refer to and are informed by existing paintings she has seen. Each new piece is painted on top of the prior one and in each she is photographed hidden behind a new mask. Thus the last painting ceases to exist and the new one becomes a commentary about painting. Sometimes the mask informs the painting; sometimes the reverse is true. Henry's hands are the only part of her that is visible and thus the only clue to her identity.
Elise Ferguson, Tess(Ramble), 2015, pigmented plaster on MDF
The geometric abstractions of Brooklyn-based painter Elise Ferguson embrace an inherent materiality and have a distinct object-like quality. Inspired by Louis Kahn's uncamouflaged use of cement, Ferguson uses sculptural materials, including metal, pigmented plaster and ink on MDF panels, as a means of creating illusory space and preserving a series of incidents and compositional actions. While certain works allude to representational elements found in nature or the studio, Ferguson also creates pieces that are purely abstract-optical interactions of grid, line and concentric circle. When composing, she relies on geometry as a language, but uses it intuitively. Once marks are made and first colors chosen, the progression of the composition becomes something of a call and response. Step-by-step things get improvisational, each new gesture springing from the last. This improvisational process yields to work that is cerebral yet physical, work that reflects Ferguson's endless fascination with materials and their physical limits and capabilities.
Sasha Pierce, Triangle Crown II, 2015, oil on linen (with detail)
A connecting thread between the artworks of Canada-based Sasha Pierce is literally thread: her works of the past fifteen years reference textiles, even though they are not textiles themselves. With a highly ingenious approach to abstract painting, Pierce meticulously lays multi-colored lines of oil paint onto linen in dense, thread-like patterns. Using mathematical models as the starting point of her kaleidoscopic compositions, Pierce translates precise diagrams into tangible form. Pierce carefully squeezes vermicelli-thin strands of paint out of a plastic bag, then uses a ruler to shore up the strands against one another. Her paintings are easily mistaken for textiles or tapestries. Pierce succeeds in intensely activating both physical presence and optical perception. Variegated lines waver, bend and warp as we experience the parameters of visual perception.
Jens Wolf, 07.70, 2007, acrylic on plywood
Jens Wolf was born in 1967 in Heilbronn, Germany and lives and works in Berlin. He graduated in 2001 from the Academy of Fine Arts in Karlsruhe under Helmut Dorner and Luc Tymans. His work directly references familiar motifs associated with artists such as Josef Albers and Frank Stella. Working with painting on board, Wolf is inspired by the major abstract Modern movements of the 20th century. His work transcends this rich tradition by leaving deliberate traces of imperfection and uniqueness behind. The natural grain of the plywood gives his geometric forms a softer appearance and emphasizes the flatness of the abstraction.