I wasn’t sure whether I would be able to take advantage of the gluttonous quantity of art shipped into the city for the Armory show and it’s competitors/colleagues this weekend. I suffer from a less-is-more style of art viewing, so art fairs aren’t my cup, but I sipped by carefully picking the fair in the list with the smallest size, but widest world perspective: Scope.
I generally have a suspicious reaction to statements like, “It was awful!” that I hear so often from artists who attend fairs. I think it’s probably more accurate to say that there’s an awful lot of mostly competent stuff, but when seen all together, it’s noteworthy how little stands out from the crowd. This was certainly the case at Scope. I could barely bring myself to look at a lot of it. Here are the items that stood up out of the crowd, albeit mostly for personal reasons. One satisfying aspect was its diversity, of media as well as nationality.
The photography jumped out–it seems to have taken over the European galleries, especially. Probably it jumped because large scale is still so much the rage. I can’t believe that photographers are willing to accept so much digital distortion in their 40 inch prints, but there it was all over the place. My local fave, Yossi Milo, however, was a cut above, showing work from superb past and upcoming shows, including Kelli Connell, who works a single model into identity-searching narratives.
Galerie Baer, from Dresden had some cool work, including artist Stefan Lenke’s paintings and photography. The paintings were very spare without being minimal, the photos hinted at an interest in color and texture that plays out in the paintings.
-Stephan Lenke, Eliot
Marc de Puechredon of Basel was showing Raphaele Shirley, whose piece, Elevation in Time, creates an experience of self for the occupant of a box. The box is a study for a commission to create four elevators in Monte Carlo. The interior includes images and mirrors, plus a tentacle-like set of lights and speakers hanging from the ceiling.
In an admirable concept/outcome pairing, Mike Weiss Gallery’s Tom Fruin creates fascinating, intimate, almost needlecraft pieces from found drug bags and other garbage and fragments.
-Tom Fruin, Virgin Mary
When I read about Jean-Christian Bourcart recently, I thought his technique of shooting photos of the light emerging from the projection booth sounded clever, but a one-liner. The results, though, on view at Andrea Meislin Gallery were mesmerizing.
-Jean-Christian Bourcart, Stardust #34
Crown Gallery in Brussels caught my eye as a reason to look at some paintings, albeit on paper. These charming, approximately 10 x 12 inch pieces by Tina Gillen were sweet without being saccharine and dark without being jaded.
Moti Hasson’s sampling, from current show artist, Paul Pagk, was a treat. I liked these paintings a lot more in person after being unimpressed seeing them a couple times online or in print. Goes to show you how much painting is a visceral experience.
Paul Pagk, Lexicon 19
Bryce Wolkowtz Gallery was the electronica territory-holder at Scope. There was a variety of interesting work that was plugged in at this booth. A favorite was Vic Cosik’s twist on the ubiquitous LCD screen movie viewing experience. His process converts video into ascii characters that dance together to form the images. Here’s a closeup and a more pulled out shot of one piece.
Okay, I’ve hit photo, painting, digital, installation, collage. I was underwhelmed with drawing offerings, sorry to say. To wrap up then, I found these sculptures by Ewerdt Hilgemann, presented by Art Affairs in Amsterdam, just beautiful. The work proceeds from minimalist formal studies and literally takes the wind out of it — or forces it in a new direction by using vacuum to sculpt the steel structures without touching them.
And there’s a good description of what attending an art fair can do for you, take the wind out of your sails or force you on. Thankfully, I came home raring to get to work.
-Ewerdt Hilgemann, from Imploded Sculptures