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March 10, 2007

{     New York Art Fair Roundup     }    


If... one follows the logic of Einsteinian Relativity (General or Special take your pick) one is lead to the truth that there is no such thing as "now". For Einstein and other physicists this understanding developed as a result of observing discrepancies in measurements of time, space and light. I won't get into a lengthy explanation of exactly why but the point is events occur, they can be observed and valued differently, and there is no absolute frame of reference. The bottom line: objective simultaneity simply isn't so.

So blah, blah, blah, we are led to the basic truth that subjectivity is the only 'is'. Any douche who ever took LSD or philosophy 101 has been introduced to this set of concepts. But in terms of the field of cultural production, when looking at the notion of "now" we encounter something a little different. For us it's more specific and definitely way more at the mercy of subjectivities than reality in general.

Constantly being reported on, ruminated over, and discussed, the museum 'now', the gallery 'now', and the art fair 'now' are all different things; as are the critic's 'now', the artist's 'now', the publicist's 'now' and the historian's 'now'. In our little art world it is this discussion which gives 'now' it's power. This is mostly because all the various forces that understand and shape 'now' grapple with the procession of images, ideas and objects in a similar vein.

Moving through the mysteries of the zeitgeist with helmet, fork, and magnifying glass, we want for various reasons to know what IS, what's "good", what it means, how we measure up, what our contribution can be, and what's next. This revs the visual culture engine to the speed of light on a path whose erratic twists and turns are similar to the frizzy grey that once emanated from Einstein's skull.

Which brings us to this 'now': 2007, the beginning of March, a week after the conclusion of another set of art fairs and one artist's completely subjective attempt to measure up some artworld time, space, and light.
What would Colin De Land think of this? His little fair that started in a hotel downtown is now all grown up and gray (literally). After a stint at the actual Armory on 26th and Lexington (now the home of the Pulse Art Fair) through the midlife bulge of two pier's worth of galleries on the far west side for the past several years this year's Armory was moved a little further north and contained in only one pier. Gray carpet, wide halls, and fewer, more open booths made for a polished, easy to digest affair that was as stylish as a rattlesnake in a pile of diamonds. Aside from too many painters ripping off Luc Tuymans' anorexic brushwork, and the continued prevalence of ephemerality and a willful lack of craftsmanship defining the "upper crust" in visual culture, I found it enjoyable.

James Cohan Gallery
3 Sculptures with caricatures of dead presidents Ben Franklin, Abraham Lincoln and another I couldn't make out made of pink styrofoam and colored plastics by Folkert De Jong rocked this booth. The title: " The Death March; My Blood, My Oil, My Ass." said it all. Folkert.jpg

Frith Street Gallery
YBA Fiona Banner's new project "Bastard Word Studies" are drawings of collages made from photos of airplane parts. The entire alphabet was represented in this way. It had the presence of the evening news with the simplicity of a lesson from Sesame Street.

Galerie Diana Stigter
Amie Dicke who usually takes fashion photos and cuts out all but select contours she first traces in ink on the form, showed a new piece. It was made of a photo of a female model with nails of various sizes emanating from the same sort of select contours she once would have traced in ink. The work was titled "Violent Contradiction".

Leo Koenig
Nobody makes funnier, super realistic monkey sculptures than Tony Matelli. This was evident at his recent solo show at Leo Koenig. The show was one of this winter's highlights mostly because of this sculpture:
On view at Koenig's booth was a Matelli monkey walking in a somnambulist stupor as well as his vegetable self portrait. That coupled with a Tom Sanford self portrait showed off Leo's endearing "goofy guy art" sensibility well.

Yvon Lambert
Venerable Paris/New York dealer Yvon Lambert had this great painting on one of his outer walls:
The large format coupled with an incredibly stylish '70 future-retro feel gave this painting a great prescence. The purples not really visible in this tiny jpeg scintillated well with the oranges adding a great hot-cold vibe.

Lisson Gallery
Tim Lee cut a Public Enemy record into concentric circles, attached them at different points, then hung it from the center of a plexiglass vitrine. It looked like DJ's vision of an atom.

Galerie Eva Presenhuber
Tim Rollins and K.O.S. made a disturbing little sculpture of a log with creepy realistic eyes that sat in the corner of this gallery's booth. The rest of the work was the intentional focus but became static filler setting up a discovery/revelation scenario as off kilter as a David Lynch film played in reverse.

David Zwirner Gallery
Diana Thater had 3 videos of the sun playing on 3 flatscreen LCD monitors. They were colored light blue, true blue, and green. They were refreshing, electric and operated as a reminder of the possibilities video work has of being a static object rather than an elusive time based experience. Art fair killed the video star.

A whole room of R. Crumb drawings, sketches and roughs for comic covers heralded the alliance Zwirner has struck with the indie comic pioneer.

Casey Kaplan
Nathan Carter had a playful installation at this New York Gallery's booth. It was as reminiscent of Diana Cooper as Calder's Circus and Stuart Davis.

Galeria Enrique Guerrero
This booth introduced me to Richard Stipl. The small hyper real sculptures of diseased folks on view at this booth are freaky deaky. The one Enrique Guerrero has consisted of a female with a flower wreath holding two candles on the ends of sticks. A male with an Ipod strapped to his arm and another hovering over a dead pig. It was like Ron Mueck in reverse. It's too bad putting contemporary technology like the Ipod in this piece is going to date it faster than if they had used an image of G.W. This one titled 'Bloc Sabbath' on his website is pretty great too:

Hiromi Yoshi
This is a great gallery whose booth was bursting with solid work and energy.

Black Dragon Society
I love this LA Gallery's programming. Steve Canaday's work is some of my favorite on their roster. Seeing some of his new stuff was so downright deeelightful it put the groove in my heart.

This is 'Chessica with Lemon' an oil on canvas:

CRG Gallery
All hail Butt Johnson. His combination of doodle media, metal/pop culture man symbols, and humor bag-tagged me right in my art balls. This is "Deus Ex Machina' a ballpoint pen drawing on paper:

Yes, ladies and gentleman, that is in fact a Care Bear pulling the robe from a skinless Terminator robot. Please check out the work on CRG's website: "Postmodern Daves" can't be stopped. He's an artist who, along with the likes of Matt Furie, the aforementioned Steve Canaday, and Barnaby Furnas, being raised in the eighties and early nineties, are working to rescue our generation's cultural Id from the American Apparel t-shirt and the designer toy in order to elevate it to the blue chip gallery and the museum. We deserve no less.

Bellwether was one of the galleries in this year's Armory Show who promised 2 different solo shows everyday of the fair. So what I saw the day I was there was only a slice of what they had to offer. Luckily I happened upon a small room of Jansson Stegner's sexy girl cop imagery. This is 'Brunnhilde on the Iron Range' an oil on canvas:

Lehmann Maupin Gallery
Shirazeh Houshiary showed an abstract painting that had a beautiful, delicate, gridded abstract pattern moving across the center.

It's impossible to see the incredible depth and beauty of her work here so seek out a closer look in person because these are really rewarding when seen up close.

Takashi Murakami prodigy 'Mr.' had a large anime style head sculpture and a nice painting that looked like a reproduction of a still from a Hayao Miyazaki film. It prompted a friend of mine to say "If I see another cartoon I'm going to puke." He's right. Mr.'s work is really derivative of a lot of what's going on in the anime world without much personal touch. Seeing a Japanese version of '80's appropriation art is so stale it's painful. The work is fun and rich visually but Mr. you need to evolve.

Angles Gallery
Tom LaDuke's hazy magical greyness is the painterly equivalent of a Jesu song having an aesthetic similar to Aaron Turner's austere design work for the band. I know this isn't what the work is about but it's what it reminded me of. Another artist whose work falls flat on the web because of it's delicate touch and detail. This is 'Dimmer' an enamel on aluminum:

Jack Shainman Gallery
Nick Cave had a Soundsuit I'd never seen before. It looked like a pacman costume made of badges and buttons. Cut it out Nick Cave! Your creativity is Out of Control!
This wasn't in the art fair but check it out anyway:

Marianne Boesky Gallery
Alexander Ross and Liz Craft were given the 2 person focus in this booth. A recent addition to the Boesky line up, Ross's mold and mucus inspired works are as delicious as ever. This mixed media piece is untitled:

Fredricks Freiser Gallery
Nicholas De Genova had some new stuff. It rocked as much as anything he showed last fall in his solo.

Zac Smith had a wall of drawings like the ones he showed at the Biennial a few years ago depicting every page in Pynchon's "Gravity's Rainbow". The one's at the Armory were called "Drawings From Around the Time I Became a Porn Star". Zak does Suicide Girls-esque porn under the name Zak Sabbath. Korny Kareer Killing, Self aggrandizing, narcissistic indulgence or conceptual prank for the YouTube/Hot Topic generation? You decide. All I know is his intricate, effusively inventive ink work stays crunchy even in man-milk.
This is "Girls in The Naked Girl Business: Voltaire" mixed media on plastic coated paper: Smith.jpg

Greenberg Van Doren Gallery
Chris Caccamise had this crazy little sculpture made of plastic strips at GVD's booth. It looked like an ugly kid's version of Iron Man made of rags with color blocks emanating from the arms and legs. It was totally fresh. This piece by him called 'Twin Mountain' is excellent too:

Victoria Miro Gallery
Inka Essenhigh had a new painting on display here. It was a weird orange and yellow dominated piece of a supernaturally happy couple under a loopy tree. As Essenhigh has moved away from the hardedged cartoon surrealist work that brought her to prominence in the '90's her work has come more and more to represent normal circumstances. This has upped the ante on the bizarre factor because of the way she has added volume to her forms while continuing to draw everything out into syrupy swirls. This is 'Shopping' an oil on canvas from 2005:

Pulse Art Fair

At Pulse New York, two collectors walking around were talking too loud and I overheard one of them say, "I don't know I've seen so much something has to be really special to stand out." I felt the same way. Alot of the same galleries were back showing very similar work by the same artists they showed in Miami making it a repetitive affair. And despite a self-censoring, PG-13 sensibility amongst the collection of cubicles it was sharper and more sophisticated in NYC than in Miami.

Mark Moore
Ali Smith had 2 new abstractions on view. Despite representations current stronghold on the marketplace Ali Smith is still making fresh abstractions in an otherwise sparce field. This is "Everything I Don't Understand #1: Fishhead Ancestry)":

One in the Other Gallery
Luke Caulfield makes totally metal paintings. This is "Judas Priest II":

Marcia Wood Gallery
Overall Atlanta's Marcia Wood Gallery had a tight, sharp booth with clever work and good energy. Chris Scarborough's digitally manipulated photography is perfectly smooth and oddly off-kilter mostly because he enlarges the eyes and makes the skin of his subjects look porcelain. This is 'Untitled (Sara 4)':

His drawings look like they are made by a completely different but equally interesting artist. This is "Melt" (graphite on paper):

Devorah Sperber uses spools of thread and magnifying sphere's to generate cool optical tricks in her 'Eye Centered Portraits'. They are kind a corny but it's hard not to be impressed with optical science. This is the one she made reproducing a Vermeer:

Marcus Kenney had some smart collage work. This is 'A False Impression':

Workplace Gallery
Darren Banks had a mysterious video on display at this cool little UK gallery's booth. It was a loop of what appeared to be a production company's introduction logo animation. It showed a totally '80's laser line moving up the screen and turning into a road that goes up to the top of a castle and then says Palace Video before it turns around and reverses. It was just the kind of obscure clip that when isolated and repeated creates a mental blackhole sucking us into a world of throw-away VHS culture circa 1987.

DCKT Contemporary
William Swanson had a sharp, interestingly colored painting based in architectural studies.

PPOW Gallery
Bill Smith, a welcome new addition to the gallery, showed his delicate, intricate, spring wire and bead constructed work 'Untitled (Branching Ball)':


It' a cyborg snowflake spit out of a robot cloud. The rest of his work is so much more beautifully intricate and elaborate. Check it out here.

Mala Iqbal is another new addition to the gallery. I love her combination of pert synth-naturalism with well behaved street art elements. This is 'Coyote Tracks' an acrylic on board:

Perugi Arte Contemporanea
This gallery is straight up fun inside and out. They had a great video animation by Laurina Paperini of famous contemporary artists being killed in various ways. It gave many gallerists and dealers delight. This is 'Superfake (Pigman prot)' (acrylic and pen on wood):

Chris Gilmore showed a dentist's chair made of cardboard complete with dentist's tools. This is 'hearly':

Fine Silver Gallery
Zane Lewis gave Texas' Fine Silver Gallery a standout booth by depicting the pope vomiting. It is called 'Purging Pope'.

Jeff Bailey Gallery
Jon Rappleye combines airbrushed clouds on soft toned skies with hard-lined, drawn, black and white birds and animals in sparkley wood scenes. Very nice. This is 'Glassing Softest Skies, with Rare and Roseate Shadows':

Chris Duncan's multimedia piece 'Seriously, It's Dark Out' offered a rough hewn but enthrallingly obsessive rendering of cosmic vision.

Scope New York

Scope was held at the same plot in the back of Lincoln Center where the Big Apple Circus is usually held so I was expecting it to have the same kind of young, anarchic energy it has in the past. Oh contrare. The atmosphere of Scope this time around was serious, pared down and in line with the presentations offered up by it's competitors.

There were still performative things happening in the halls like a small doghouse like structure being walked around from within by some hidden someone who would make you a sculpture if you inserted $2 in a slot in the side. I thought it stayed fun without being irritating.

Scope continued to be the place to look for colorful, young, unselfconscious work without alot of conceptual intricacies or haute coutour, aesthetic anorexias bogging it down.

Helium Cowboy Art Space
This booth bristled with light, fun lowbrow work. Check out their website for the pictures they posted from their setup. Nina Braun really stood out. This is her replica of an Adidas Forum shoe:

Beautiful Decay Magazine with Overtones Gallery
Super awesome culture rag Beautiful/Decay scored the media sponsor slot for this Scope Fair and coupled up with LA's Overtones Gallery to show some cool stuff. Along with free copies of the new issue they had some Robbie Conal drawings of skeleton's with parts cut out. This is 'Darth Condi':

Katherine Mulherin Gallery
Hooray for Canada. Toronto's Katherine Mulherine brought some great new stuff once again. I love her eye for drawing and painting. She brought some some weird clown portrait paintings by Montreal's Eliza Griffiths like this one titled "Universal Health Care For Everyone":

While Kris Knight's red-nosed hipster portraits are endearingly simple. This is 'Broke Down':

Other Gallery
This Winnepeg gallery made me repeat 'Hooray for Canada.' as I discovered the work of Krisjanis Kaktins-Gorsline. His small, surrealistic, doodley paintings give George Condo a run for his money. Check out this untitled oil on plywood:

Regis Krampf
John Avelluto had some light cartoony work here that used resin to layer imagery. One sampled Carroll Dunham and late Phillip Guston imagery of hands facing one another to make a pert historical comparison. Other work by him included cool, scratchy, cartoon pop images like this untitled one:

Christopher Cutts Gallery
Canada once again does it with the work of Matt Johnson at Christopher Cutts Gallery. Check out this colored ink on illustration board called 'Fall Preparation':

ADA Gallery
Richmond Virginia's ADA Gallery brought some nice Daniel Davidson paintings whose intricate, detailed fields of indie comic influenced images packed into shapes like circles and peace signs are really nice.

They brought some of Matt Fisher's sometimes homoerotic always tongue in cheek depictions of revolutionary war soldiers. This is 'On the Banks':

The Art Show (The American Art Dealer's Alliance Fair)
I don't know what all the hubbub about the ADAA fair being contemporary and hip now was about. This fair was an absolute snore unless you wanted to watch Matthew Marks snoot it up with alot of boring, old, rich Upper Eastsiders. Aside form a little Peter Saul drawing at David Nolan's booth called "I am not the Hulk" depicting a green skinned cyclops, a Takashi Murakami plushy suit at Greenberg Van Doren's space and a few old pieces like some Diebenkorn drawings and a late Guston this fair sucked. I even overheard a collector say "It's no fun when it's so expensive." It served a really important purpose though. It kept all this boring old secondary market chaff from polluting the Armory and all other fairs. Thanks ADAA!

The Red Dot Art Fair
This one was a stinker too. The rooms were small and cramped which could have been fine if there were a real treasure hunt afoot unfortunately the art was largely mediocre. Bucheon Gallery, George Billis Gallery and Eyewash Gallery from Brooklyn were the only dirty dubloons at the bottom of an empty art fair pirate chest.

LA Art Fair
LA ART Fair was the same as it was last year: a matter of fact gathering of good Los Angeles Galleries.

Richard Heller
Check out this Rachel Sumpter piece "The Laikas"
Marcel Dzama had some weird, scratchy ink on paper animal headed boxer portraits that I'd never seen. Check 'em out.

Roberts and Tilton Gallery
Adam Janes had some great messy collage drawings on display here. This is "the premeditation of johnny jump up relaxus pantium protectus":

Carl Berg Gallery
Lynn Aldrich makes the coolest shit out of hoses and sponges. This is 'Rogue':

Shoshana Wayne Gallery
Phil Argent had a new abstraction work that featured clean, crisp, absences and pastel color fills of organic shadow shapes or thought balloons. This is 'Untitled (Scoop)':

Acuna Hansen Gallery
Mark Stockton continues to explore celebrity and media through his series of film stills from Tom Cruise films. Usually working on a small scale, he debuted a large Cruise still that was horrifying.

All told, despite the fairs being so soon after Miami madness, there was an across the board move to trim down and polish up which made the experience easier to take in. There were less fairs too which helped make it more fun.

What lingers though are these thoughts on 'Now' and what it all means. What can artists aspire to in the context of a perpetual present? Obsolete days after it's presented, forgotten about already and it's barely a week later, what does this do for art in the long run? Does cultural durability have any value in a world where nomadic cubicles are making concrete, white walled spaces unnecessary? How will this make it's way up the art world food chain? Are museum fairs possible?

How should we value what it does to shape production cycles and quality concerns for artists? Aside from the fads and trends so dutifully reported on in this and other websites like it, is this "now" any different from any other one already gone? What does this ceaseless cascade of 'nows' do for culture other than generate alot of cash for dealers and the artist 'elect'?

That last question specifically brings up the most important point about the art fair 'now': What we are dealing with at these affairs, in the raw, is business. Art fairs are highly concentrated money making machines where the idea of 'now' is one of the best sales pitches available. It generates desire and exchange; two ingredients of the fuel for a chugga, chugga gravy train. With the art market currently in such a prolonged crescendo, only the most naive, academic socialist or culturally unaware outsider would miss that point.

And so we're led to the most interesting contradictions at the root of 'Now': That it is as sustainable as it is disposable, as destructive as it is eternal, as bankrupt as it is capable of making us wealthy and thus, as enthralling as it is alienating.


Werd up, Represent!

Posted by: Manuel at March 8, 2007 7:25 PM

Another slammin' roundup of what seems to have surely been a slammin' fair...

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