Monday, December 6, 2010

Art Basel: Days 4 & 5

Day 4:

I started out the day at Seven, a smaller venue, but there was still plenty to see. They had a wall of large photograph cut outs by Richard Galpin, but I liked the one I saw at Pulse better, so hold off for the picture. They also had quite a few pen drawings, this one by Dawn Clements was my favorite. It has a strong composition, and all the details and objects draw you into the surface of the drawing, making you want to travel through the collection of objects.
There were very few paintings (not counting the familiar faces like Avery or Raushcenberg ets...) that struck me as good; paintings where you could really just stand back and marvel. So I'd like to include this painting by David Scher, I only saw it as we were leaving seven so I didn't get much time to stop and enjoy, but it I think it's pretty brilliant. It manages to both feel like all those amazing impressionist paintings (a little Matisse and Van Gogh resemblance too perhaps). While drawing from all that history, it also breaks free of it and becomes it's own painting, with a fresh and elegant handling of paint.
Then I went to Pulse, which was overwhelmingly large, and filled with some good art. At least I think it was good. At this point I may have been zombie with a brain over-fed by paintings and photographs and sculptures and installations and...
Thankfully, I took all these pictures so I still remember some of what I saw. This tree with it's feather roots by Jorge Mayet is a little reminiscent of a couple of my swan performance drawings no?
 I also enjoyed the playful humor of the hermit crab shelters by Aki Inomata. They were presented at Pulse as a series of photographs, and I would love to see them in person. A side panel explained how they were inspired by the site of the former french embassy in Tokyo. That a swath of land in down town Tokyo could go from being French to Japanese, and eventually back to French again seemed reminiscent of a hermit crab picking a new shell. There are also some interesting questions of identity raised. The hermit crab's most visible feature is the shell it assumes, in this case a man made work of art.
 This photograph by Dionisio Gonz├ílez entitled Halong VI is from the photographs series on Halong bay featuring both real houseboats, and doctored futuristic ones. It reminded me of the photographs I had seen of Swoon's rafts the day before, and the skilled doctoring made it possible to imagine that this world of whimsy was real.
 Finally, the aforementioned Richard Galpin... collage? photograph? It is hard to define this work of art I suppose, but his process is fascinating. He takes a photograph of urban cityscapes, and with a scalpel, peels away most of the emulsion so that you are left with this new abstracted structure. The paradox of a process of creation by taking away from what is there gives deeper meaning to beautiful works of art.
By the end of day 4, I was experiencing an art induced headache, which I was only able to clear by a serendipitous camping trip in the Everglades.

When I made it back to civilization Sunday afternoon, I finally felt able to process new visual information. And decided to check out Ink on Miami Beach. Sadly I arrived at 3:00 just as the show was closing, and so, instead spent the day on the sand, beneath the sun, listening to the ocean. All in all, it was a fantastic Art Basel. It was almost more of an art Marathon than my 24 paintings in 24 hours the week before. Perhaps next year I should start a training regimen a few months ahead of time, start out with 3 museums a week and slowly build my endurance from there.

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