Highlights from NADA and PULSE 2012
In Art Market | Articles21 May 2012
his May, for the first time in its eight-year history, the New Art Dealers Alliance NADA presented a fair in New York City. As a not-for-profit organization, NADA seeks to nurture contemporary art through collaboration between exhibition venues and education by sponsoring art walks, seminars and other events. Over sixty international galleries, representing eleven countries, exhibited work at NADA on dedicated floors of the elegant Center 548 on West 22nd Street. Subjected to a strong vetting process and by invitation only, the works were generally strong and certain stands particularly intriguing.
Jompet Kuswidanane, a Singaporan artist, exhibited equestrian sculpture at Tokyo’s Zanzuka Gallery stand. Suspended at natural height, Kuswidanane exhibited a horse’s tail, saddle and bridle, but all sans horse. The invisible charger, notwithstanding its inexistence, filled the space by merely hinting at prodigious contours. The “horse” captivated viewers, drawing them in, while stimulating faculties and imagination. It also succeeded through humor, ultimately seeming a ridiculous proposition – like H.G. Wells’ Invisible Man seen through the prism of Hollywood.
Franklin Furnace exhibited Moana Hatoum’s Entrail Carpet, a rectangular work in extruded silicon rubber depicting the serpentine meanderings of intestines. I nearly tread on it accidentally and the material did feel inviting as a carpet. The rubber transforms viscera into something very different and fails to repulse. Tom Otterness’s FREE SPEECH, a bronze of 2008, was also on view, depicting a stylized Lilliputian woman with neck craned, screaming into a megaphone. Somehow it is difficult to view these creatures independent of their magnificent expression at the 14th Street A Station of the New York City subway, but the figure is endearing. A lithographic stone from William Pope.L’s Intimacy Project was also on view with an image of the artist’s grandmother. The stone had been “killed” by the artist, damaging the image matrix, to prevent further prints from being taken from it.
London’s Ibid Projects and Untitled, New York jointly presented a memorable installation by David Adamo that consisted of monolithic, totemic wooden sculptures. Heavy black walnut timbers were stood on end, at heights varying between eight and twelve feet while other blocks had been hollowed out with concave shapes. Between squared base and crown, Adamo had gouged away the wood, leaving spindly columns of three or four inches in diameter to support them. Independently, they suggest the work Brancusi or Giacometti, but Adamo incorporated the copious wood shavings carved away from the blocks, into the work. Neatly swept into mounds, the totems take on an air of mystery. Were they sculpted at the fair? What do they represent? They are fascinating but ambiguous enough to have been created by anything from a gnawing animal to an ancient tribal civilization.
Nathalie Karg/Cumulus Studios, New York, presented Birdbath by Ugo Rondinone. Sculpted in the manner of Rondinone’s Swiss countryman Giacometti, with pellets of clay added one atop the other, Rondinone produced a natural height birdbath complete with bird! Cast entirely of bronze, this work represents a humorously closed system that welcomes only the lifeless facsimile of nature into its waterless bath. Somehow in this age of genetically engineered food and global warming, the bronze bird seems darkly appropriate.
Nearby PULSE Contemporary Art Fair, now in its seventh year, presented work from a distinguished roster of sixty international galleries at the Metropolitan Pavilion. In addition to the more established galleries, PULSE welcomed selected emerging galleries to IMPULSE, a special section dedicated to solo-artist offerings. IMPULSE artist were eligible to receive the PULSE PRIZE, a monetary grant selected by the PULSE Committee. Installation works were also created in the Pavilion as part of PULSE PROJECTS that were proposed by galleries and non-profit alternative spaces.
Leon Benrimon Gallery of New York presented sumptuous new paintings by Trey Speegle. Leave a Mark (pink detail) of 2012, depicts a horse, outwardly in the conventions of paint-by-number, in three aspects. Blocked out in numbered, unpainted fields, are the horse at pasture and trotting along. The same horse at full gallop is painted in dark silhouette. By way of color, the charger seems to project, but is forced to recede behind an unpainted horse by overlap perspective. The background is animated by wild camouflage in green, golden, pink purple fields resulting in complex, contradictory and fascinating vision of the natural world.
The Here and Now, another work of 2012, is a square canvas divided into four equal quadrants. On the left square, heavy condensed ochre type reads “The Here” and, on the lower right, green text reads “The Now.” On the lower right is a nude model, painted-by-numbers, al fresco, her arms raised and eyes closed. Behind her, under the bough of a tree, is the back of an artist’s easel but the painter is hidden from view. On the upper right, a mother and daughter (again painted-by-numbers) dance ballet out of doors with a picturesque lake in the background and mountains in the distance. Behind the text are more numbered quadrants yet to be filled in. By these and other devices, Speegle lays bare the artifice of illusion and subverts pictorial conventions through textual intervention and visual ingenuity.
Purdy | Hicks Gallery of London presented works by Korean artist Chan-Hyo Bae. While pursuing an advanced degree at the Slade, Bae began exploring issues of post-colonial identity in his work. Cleverly challenging the Anglo centric worldview, Bae photographed himself cross-dressed in the regalia of English women monarchs from the 13th through 19th centuries. The images are hauntingly beautiful and appear very authentic with regard to color and costume. The race and gender of the subject are so unexpected but at the same time exotic and interesting in this new context.
David Lusk Gallery presented work by William Eggleston. The Graceland Portfolio is Eggleston’s exploration of Elvis Presley’s personal environment by way of exquisitely framed, richly saturated c-prints. A snarling plaster leopard emerges from plastic jungle plants on a heavy burl table, varnished with shiny, syrupy polyurethane. Stuffed animals adorn the black leopard skin sofa and tiki totems stand guard over the whole tableau. Another photograph captures a white monkey statuette on a mirrored tabletop beside a glass vase filled with white painted twigs beside a glass bowl filled with seashells. Eggleston frames visual vignettes that speak to Presley’s vision of domesticity and unique brand of American kitsch.
Chicago’s Carrie Secrist Gallery presented Motion Drawings by Anne Lindberg. On first glance, these works appear to be abstract, two-dimensional drawings that define a gradation through parallel orange and green lines. Upon approaching these drawings, however, the viewer discovers that, in reality, s/he is looking at thousands of individual pieces of thread that have been tied from one corner to another of the stand to a depth of several feet. The Op Art effect is intensified by the forest of t-pins that Lindberg used to secure her filament to the walls and which relate to one another in irregular and unexpected ways.
Together, NADA and PULSE presented strong offerings by artists in diverse genres from a host of international galleries. In the case of NADA it was good to see that outer borough galleries such Regina Rex from Ridgewood, Queens, and the Journal from Williamsburg, Brooklyn, also took part. Artists like Adamo and Lindberg developed interesting site sensitive and specific works that extend possibilities for exhibiting in unconventional and intriguing ways.
Writing Credits: Daniel Rothbart is an artist and writer. A former Fulbright Scholar, Rothbart is the author of Jewish Metaphysics As Generative Principle in American Art (Ulisse e Calipso) and The Phoenix (Ulisse e Calipso). His work can be found in the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Orsini Foundation in Milan and numerous public and private collections.
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