Art Fair Week: Armory

It took a solid five hours to browse this fair and not miss a single booth. It was overwhelming, daunting and I kept myself in check every few booths to make sure I was going the right direction and not missing any sections or isles. There was much to keep up with and after awhile everything looked the same and I was honestly numb and dazed towards the end. Still I discovered many new artists who, although not spectacular and immensely moving, are definitely worth the mention. Armory is mainly composed of your well to do established echelon and I saw many familiar faces alongside the not so well known. There was only one fantastically ingenious booth, and many booths seemed to go the safe route with commodity-friendly abstraction.

My highlights:

img_3902Sarah Braman at Museum 52, NY

A solo booth of this artist’s work included scraps and used materials, from wood to glass to seat cushions to marble tabletops. It’s Gedi Sibony but heftier, with more substance. I think of suprematism in their arrangement, a struggling representation of the real rather than autonomous abstraction.

img_3903Marilyn Minter at Galerie Laurent Godin, Paris

Food Porn! Marilyn Minter has a way of depicting objects with a hefty coat of raunchy scandalousness, a tainted and forbidden air resides in the images leaving you simultaneously repulsed and wanting. I was grossed out by the cliched symbol of banana as penis but would love nothing more but a chocolate covered banana, or better yet, a banana slathered in dripping nutella. nyum nyum nyum…

img_3906Ikeda Manadu at Mizuma Art Gallery, Japan

A large four panel painting fills up a wall, an endearing tsunami washes out an entire urban civilization, wreaking havoc on the highways, along the streets, interrupting the skaterboys on their ramp, flushing all of mankind down in a whirlpool of cleansing and destruction. The intricate detailing is perfected with thread like marks, all pen and ink, with color gradations that heighten the three dimensionality of the objects and the ravishing rapid movement swirling throughout the canvas. It’s monumental and breathtaking, animated and illustrative.

img_3915Kara Walker at Sikkema Jenkins

Kara Walker’s been getting old on me lately, especially with the last show at the gallery, and here I’m not fascinated as I used to be with her silhouettes but it’s refreshing and I can appreciate her unending creativity of taking 1 element, that of cut outs, to varying degrees of display. Here they are small stand up paper figures encased in glass boxes along the wall depicting images of violence and sexual deviance, and the usual Kara Walker vocabulary.

img_3916Mark Bradford at Sikkema Jenkins

A large scale collage drawing, billboard size almost. I love the intricacy of the cuts, you have to look close up. This close:

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Black and white waves wash over gradations of advertisement posters, hints of color and text can be seen between the streaks dazzling our eyes not with a tempting product seen through PR efforts but with colors stifled by the waves reaching out to be read between the lines.

img_3920Sam Windett at The Aprroach, London

As straightforward as it can be, these abstract still life paintings are rugged in texture, paint is scrapped and lines giving the objects mass and volume, further accentuated by black monochrome backgrounds and heavy dark tones of earthy tones. Particles lean against each other and hang from strings giving them life and movement, stalted as if in a snapshot of a moment.

img_3927Juliao Sarmento at Sean Kelley, NY

Square, woman, and foliage come frolic together in a single field, interacting but isolated, the space between the subjects, or the lack thereof, create distance and intimacy that is more psychological than forthright.

img_39281Leandro Erlich at Sean Kelley, NY

A small exposed round house sits on a pedestal, press the small red button and the house starts slowly rotating. Soon pieces of furniture start moving up and down, a makeshift carousel in the making. Check out some of his other work in the website, it’s all about surreal illusionistic interplay between object and viewer. Love it.

img_3929Joanne Greenbaum at D’Amelio Terras, NY

Everything about this work is free and refreshing. The cascading movement, the grand mix of square and circle, contrasting shades of rich red with cavernous black, gridded with haphazardous quickly rendered lines. It’s a structure on the brink of toppling over, or perhaps it’s an organic sprouting of form.

img_3930Nick Cave at Jack Shainman, NY

Yay Nick Cave! I love the cat peering out of the accumulation of porcelain birds, must be torture for him.

img_3935Steve Roden at Susanne Vielmetter, CA

I hope I’m not boring you with my obvious bias towards abstraction. I can’t help love the interplay between shapes and color in a single platform, the dialogue between the elements that occur, sometimes silent sometimes yapping till the ears in your eyes bleed, as in this textured and angular and thickly rendered painting by Steve Roden. It reminds me of Chris Johanson but more complicated and jagged.

img_3936Taro Izumi at Hiromi Yoshii, Japan

A small white TV screen grounded on the floor with a most hysterical video. You see the tip of a foot landed gently on top of a tube of paint where a paper rocket is placed. The person whistles in countdown mode and stomps on the tube to spastically launch not only the rocket but the “smoke” that follows behind, a quick gush of paint in various colors. It goes on this way for god knows how long.

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The result is a streak of thick paint on paper, with the rocket resting proudly at its tip. Hysterical.

img_3943Jon Kessler at Deitch Projects, NY

A signature motif of Kessler is the sheer complexity of his concocted picture making machines. Two discs are foundations for face pogs on skewers, mounted on these discs that rotate while a camera records from a slanted angle which also has attached to it a printed and cut out Edward Hopper painting of a man at the bar witnessing the array of faces pass by in front of him.

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We are witnessing the witnessing of a spectacle. A cacophony of movement and imagery.

img_3982Ernest Caivano at White Cube, London

Delicate ink drawings that gather botany and abstract lines creating a tool of force and sharp violence. The gentle pretty factor is contrasted by their explosiveness.

img_3950Tracy Emin at White Cube, London

Cut out fabric shape out letters that phrases insults and profanities creating tension against homemade craft woman work of quilting. The personal is political and is representing with a clearing of the throat in this confessional, heavy minded quilt as canvas.

img_3960Thomas Nozkowski at Pace Wildenstein, NY

A series of small scale Nozkowski paintings were installed on a wall and I can’t help but love these quirky little paintings. I can’t help it.

img_3961Spencer Finch at Rhona Hoffman Gallery, Chicago

I’ve seen this artist’s sculptures before in a show in Chelsea which consisted of window fans stacked atop each other each going off at different times all in an attempt to recreate lived experience, in this case the wind at Walden Pond. Here the artist plays with color in trying to remember color of Kennedy’s pillow hat. I love the interaction between real experience, memory, and superficial realities created through artistic mediums.

img_3964Dasha Shishkin at Zach Feuer Gallery, NY

This solo booth consisted of one wall encased in wallpaper depicting floral patterns with rainbow rings emanating from an intricately decorated flower pot. The dividing edges of the paper were uneven and dislocating, the colors were bright and flamboyant. On another wall was a series of small paintings with similar bands of color meandering through the surface.

img_3971Jerry Pethick at Catriona Jeffries Gallery, Canada

A more relevant contemporary version of Thomas Nozkowski. The glimmering plastic surface lends a surreal illusionistic bent on abstraction, like being high and seeing a world consisting only of shapes rather than objects.

img_3977Hope Gangloff at Susan Inglett, NY

Documenting white hipsterdom. Man I wish I could be part them.

img_3981Tom Molloy at Galerie Guy Bartschi, Switzerland

Money paper planes piercing through a wall. The dollar is practically this worthless.

img_39842Susanne M. Winterling at Daniel Reich Gallery, NY

I have a love and hate relationship with this gallery. I love and appreciate their accessibility to info on artists, they link press pdfs on their website and have an abundant number of press releases, checklists, and selected press printed at the gallery for distribution, and Daniel Reich himself is always around willing to clarify and explain an artwork. Herein lies the problem, the language used in the press release is much too elongated in overt conceptual jargon and justification, all the works more or less requires explaining to be understood, and honestly, it’s a bit hooty and pretentious. So I was going to skip the booth altogether seeing as how I just didn’t have that time to try to read concept heavy works but I just had to peek. And although I was planning to skip writing about the booth, I decided to take the half an hour to carefully read the press release which humbly starts “In the midst of a cold climate and dubious economic times, what can be found at the Daniel Reich Gallery booth? Well, we hope something a little more exceptional and imaginative this time…” And indeed what I discovered was more thought provoking and endearing than other booths. This sculpture by Susanne M. Winterling was the most striking of the group display. Her work is steeped in nostalgia for early 20th century culture whether in America or Paris, and this is a dedication to what some deem as the creator of modern dance Isadora Duncan who wore scarves the way the Greeks wore togas which led to a freak accident where the scarf got caught in an automobile flinging her fast and hard and killing her instantly. It seems these costume sculptures are an ode, a eulogy to the dancer and through her reflect an interest in female identity and alternative modes of expression and definition. The hula hoop-esque rings and rods look like circus props, and planted on the black platform gives off a painterly space, so the entire installation suggests a three dimensional painting, the costumes sprouting from the picture plane, its geometric elements floating freely with amoebic diligence. I thought hard on this one, and relievingly approve.

img_3987Christine Hill at Ronald Feldman, NY

This takes the cake in the most ambitious and enthusiastic booth. The fair was the perfect platform for this stupendous project, mainly an apothecary remedy shop for the emotionally and psychologically bereaved and disturbed, catered specifically for the ailed and distressed in the art world.

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For a small fee the artist as entrepreneur/entrepreneur as artist prescribes the appropriate remedy for your ailments, I didn’t participate because I didn’t have that $2o for a remedy script but oh how I do regret not participating. She might be well known for her volks boutique project and other entrepreneurial stints that gather small business practice into a performance of viewer participation and active engagement with the real events and concerns of your everyday society.

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The DIY self-sufficiency behind this practice touches upon so many different levels that seemlessly interchange experiences of art and life. I especially love the posters that lines the walls in and out of the booth, advertising the success and mottos of her business/practice.

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Along another wall is a set of drawings pertaining to the apothecary, labeling each ingredient coinciding to an ailment, an illustration to its effects and successes. I love it.

img_3993Bill Viola at Kukje Gallery, Korea

Gothic, performative, and mystical, this video by Bill Viola is a common example of the artist’s oeuvre, gradual motions of deep emotion and ingenuity are painstakingly expressed by two superimposed figures, one reaching out under a cloak of rain, the other presenting this ghastly figure with a look of sorrow and sympathy turning her gaze to us to follow her lead in sharing the grievance.

img_3996Olafur Eliasson at Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, NY

A trippy illusionistic rotating lit sculpture, two layers of gridded lines go in opposite directions ever so slowly.

img_4000Johan Nobell at Andrehn-Schiptjenko, Stockholm

I remember seeing these at Pierogi gallery a few years back and marveling at the perceiving of grungy detritus left by human activity, mounded in piles of earth. It’s surreal in color and static placement, fantasy and illustrated in technique and execution.

img_4004Leon Vranken at Stella Lohaus Gallery, Antwerp

This was very refreshing to see. Simple, minimal, relevant, a paint roller with a sponge roller on top and a red tinted wheel on bottom, on the verge of rolling away, but stable and in tact. Markmaking in action.

img_4005Tony Oursler at Lisson Gallery, London

I wasn’t wholly convinced by this. Wispy shades of color fields overlap a hint of figures in the background further overlapped by the ubiquitous google symbol and residing on one side of the canvas is a video of what looks like a infrared view of a brain, or a cell, or a fetus.There is too much disconnect to make sense of out it.

img_4006Tony Matelli at Leo Koenig, NY

Bronzed meat faces.

img_4019Matt Connors at Canada Gallery, NY

My second favorite booth in the fair was a solo by Matt Connors depicting abstraction behind color field walls. It’s comforting knowing abstraction can go a long way in creating a myriad paths in technique, arrangement and and installation. Paintings of different scales were hung, leaning against a wall, simple and unassuming, minimal and varied in its simplicity. The paintings reach out beyond the canvas to incorporate its environment turning the walls and the floor as coinciding elements with applied paint.

img_4020Kim Gordon at KS Art, NY

The End.

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