Trade Show: Art Basel Miami


Art Basel

1-3 December 2022

Image source: Robyn Tsinnajinnie – Cold Water (K Art)

Art Basel Miami at a Glance

Returning to the Miami Beach Convention Center at its usual pre-pandemic size, Art Basel Miami wraps up the busy art calendar with a bonanza of work from around the globe. This year the event celebrates its 20th anniversary and 282 collectors and institutions from 38 countries pull out all the stops to help mark this landmark occasion. Attendances reflect this special moment, as well as the enduring gravitas of the show, with some 76,000 visitors from 88 countries traveling to the Florida coast to discover what’s new in the art world as well as soaking up seminal works from the 20th century. 

For those seeking out the freshest talent and prospective masters of the future, Positions offers the chance to discover ambitious emerging artists who are represented by young galleries. While Nova showcases work made in the last 3 years, with galleries able to choose 1, 2, or 3 artists in order to create a focused exhibition. Elsewhere, large-scale work in all types of media are given space to shine in the Meridian selection. Survey highlights works of historical significance and Kabinett allows galleries to curate specialist shows, separate from their own booth. For those who wish to delve deeper into the hot topics of the industry, the Conversations program hosts the leading voices of the art world who discuss themes including the carbon footprint of the industry, the effects of data mining in creating NFT’s, and how funding within the industry is shifting.

Taking in the New

Given the commercial nature of the event, there is great significance in showing art made in the past 3 years. It gives collectors a cross-section of available work produced in all media to discover and consider, whilst also offering art enthusiasts the opportunity to see what new directions may be taking place in the creative field. Aesthetically speaking, there is certainly a commonality of bright color combinations found within these fresh works, with complimentary turquoise and pink shades spotted on a number of canvases and walls. Gallerist Nicola Vassell showcases such work by Barbados-born, Scotland-based interdisciplinary artist Alberta Whittle and Trinidadian painter Che Lovelace. The former shows two large textile assemblages that reflect upon postcolonial novelist V.S. Naipaul’s musings on the relationship between land and history, whilst Lovelace’s bold colors are used to render paintings of flora and fauna found in Trinidad. Similarly zingy hues radiate from the paintings of Robyn Tsinnajinnie (Diné), who along with artists Erin Ggaadimits Ivalu Gingrich and Edgar Heap of Birds (Arapaho/Cheyenne) is represented by K Art, one of America’s only Native-owned commercial art galleries. Two generationally distant artists; Native-American Greg Ito and Paraguayan-born Faith Wilding, create a vibrantly colorful collaborative exhibition for Anat Ebgi that explores rebirth, renewal, and revitalization. Patrick Martinez utilizes neon light in typically brash colors to create sign-like text pieces that question socio-economic position and places of significant personal, civic, and cultural loss.

Image source: Art Basel, K Art

Che Lovelace (Nicola Vassell Gallery)

Robyn Tsinnajinnie – Still Life (K Art Gallery)

Greg Ito, Faith Wilding (Anat Ebgi Gallery)

Patrick Martinez (Charlie James Gallery)

Emerging Talent

With a focus on young galleries that represent emerging or early-career artists, comes a bubbling of energy and ambition that gives the fair a charge of excitement and vitality. This is reflected in the work on display, which challenges convention with a youthful expression and alternative methods of making and creation. Brazilian artist Ana Prata chooses to reexamine what she defines as the extinct genre of still life, with bowls of fruit, vases, and butterflies depicted in bold colors and skewed perspectives that are deliberately jarring and provocative. Nigerian artist Tonia Nneji’s canvas are equally impactful, although with very different subject matter represented. The large-scale paintings on display in the Rele Gallery booth incorporate bold color and pattern to depict commemorative fabrics of her native country. In her paintings the fabrics combine with images of the body, which also allows her to explore her own personal health battles and a culture of suppression and silence surrounding women’s experiences, particularly in reaction to trauma and sexual harassment. Jiyoung Keem’s series Scattering Breath explores candlelight, with bleeds of color that address the collision of the traditional notion of candles used for remembrance with the modern Korean context of resistance. L.A.-based Nikita Gale’s work challenges the conventions of sculpture and political systems, with the aluminium, concrete, and cloth forms acting like physical barricades that represent how boundaries are formed and space can be politicized.

Image source: Art Basel

Ana Prata (Isla Flotante Gallery)

Tonia Nneji (Rele Gallery)

Jiyoung Keem

Nikita Gale (Reyes Finn Gallery)

Historical Relevance

Along with the vibrancy and sparkle of all things new, the fair is also renowned for its unique mix of work by established artists of unrivalled historical significance. For many galleries it’s a chance to reinforce their clout, whilst collectors have the opportunity to see seminal works that might usually sit in storage. Hungarian gallery ACB brings with it the work of compatriot Endre Tót, whose conceptual practice of the 60’s and 70’s in particular spanned murals, film, painting, and collage. During the show visitors are invited to view telegrams, letters, and photography from his mail art period. New York gallery Magenta Plains presents its first solo exhibition of Barbara Ess who rose to prominence as an artist having initially performed in experimental bands in the 1980’s and 90’s. On display are a series of her daunting pinhole photographs as well as video and sound that explore themes of boundaries, distance, and separation. Brazilian gallery Paulo Kuczynski highlights the work of Ione Saldanha, whose art was inspired by the political ideologies of the 1930’s and explores the relationship between painting and sculpture. Alongside her totem-like pieces are the abstract paintings of Samson Flexor whose dynamic, geometric works take cues from neo-cubism and have been an inspiration for generations of artists ever since. Columbian María Teresa Hincapié made an impact in the world of art and theater at the end of the 1970’s, and so Rolf Art chooses to champion her performance work in video and photography formats.

Image source: Art Basel, Magenta Plains

Endre Tot (ABC Gallery)

Barbara Ess (Magenta Plains Gallery)

Ione Saldanha, Bamboos (Paulo Kuczynski Gallery)

Maria Teresa Hincapie (Rolf Art Gallery)

Grand Scale

Whilst bigger doesn’t always mean better, there are certainly a number of artworks on display that have impactful and attention-grabbing scale. Zio Ziegler paints on vast canvases, often in groups, to explore his subconscious and personal interpretation of the world. The resulting outcomes fizz with this inner questioning, with monumental figures that appear to be in motion filling the oil-sticked frame. Tapestry is the process of choice for Erin M. Riley, who meticulously crafts the large-scale pieces based on smaller scale collages. The imagery is raw and erotic and exposes the range of women’s lived experiences, reflecting upon memories, fantasies and trauma in the process. Mexico-based Labor Gallery uses their booth to shine a light on the climate crisis, with a large display of canvases by Santiago Sierra and sculptures by American Artist. Sierra’s canvases were left outside in Mexico City in order to capture the effects of exposure to the elements, with some transformed from white to a dark and grubby grey. Edgar Heap of Birds also uses the multiple canvas format to create an cumulatively large installation, in his case with text-based pieces that draw attention to the plight of indigenous communities of America. Perhaps one of the most eye-catching sculptures is that of Richard Deacon – a twisted linear form that towers overhead, inviting visitors to circumnavigate the entire structure and to consider how it intersects the gallery space.

Image source: Art Basel

Zio Ziegler (Almine Rech Gallery)

Erin M. Riley (PPOW Gallery)

Santiago Sierra (Labor Gallery)

Richard Deacon (Marian Goodman Gallery)

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