For veteran fair attendees Art Basel can feel like the same old story year after year; leading galleries flock from North America, Latin America, Europe, Asia and Africa (this year’s Miami edition boasts 20 new galleries) to show significant work from the masters of Modern and contemporary art, as well the new generation of emerging stars. The thrill lay in the search for the standouts hiding amongst the 500,000 square feet of exhibition space.
This was the 16th Edition of the Miami Fair, featuring 268 premier galleries from 32 countries, a new curator for the Public sector, and a new exhibition layout – longer aisles, wider aisles, more lounge space (much needed for rest, relax and recharging). Poignant works engaging with politics, race, gender and social issues had a strong presence in the Galleries sector. I was also pleasantly surprised to see galleries like Victoria Miro, bring work from their well-attended summer exhibitions.
Here are the standout pieces we found before our feet gave out and our brains crashed from art overload, your official Miami Art Basel Roundup of 2017.
Chloe Wise | “My sad heart and your stiff nipples at the Biennale” | Oil on Canvas
Wise paints breathtaking creatures who ooze complicated pretty girl stories you’d actually want to hear. “My Sad Heart…” kills with that subtle mirror image of a young woman exhausted into grace.
Kehinde Wiley | Portrait of Nick Cave, Nadezhda Polovtseva, 2017 | Oil on Canvas
Nick Cave has been more vocal in the past few years about his identity beyond his iconic Soundsuits. It was a treat to see Wiley posing Cave in the style of the Nadezhda Polovtseva portrait, that classic Charles Francois Jalabert three-quarter pose, with frontal depictions of the subjects’ face and hands giving us a more relaxed version of the man we know but rarely see.
*Kudos to SeanKelly for putting all the social media tags you need for each artist on their gallery tags.
Tala Madani | Three Guests, 2017 | Oil on Linen
I remember the first time I heard of Mandani’s work — from a New Yorker article entitled, “The Charming Disgusting Paintings of Tala Madani”, a quiet bomb of words to amass a commentary on her provocative and sometimes undressed discourse on cultural and sexual identity The Iranian-American artists’ recurrent motifs usually include men in submissive, vulnerable, satirical stereotypical predicaments. Three Guests seemed a slight deviation, it stopped me in my tracks, as I tried to figure out how the conversation might have changed.
Pedro Cabrita Reis | Still Life with Anchor and Rope, 2017 | enamel on Plexiglas, found door frame, found anchor and rope
Reis’s Who’s Afraid of the Red #2 (Lisboa) was my first official swoon over the artists’ continued opus with found objects. The transformative nature of the objects into works of contemplation and curiosity draw you in and make solid testimonials of the necessity of having a bare all-white wall on which to hang them.
Artist: Pedro Cabrita Reis happily has no social media outlets
Do Ho Suh | Hub, Wielandstr. 18, 12159 Berlin | Polyester fabric, stainless steel
This past summer, I missed the Do Ho Suh Passages exhibition at Victoria Miro. I resolved myself to accepting that seeing it in photographs was enough. I was wrong. These translucent fabric passages are built from polyester fabric sculpted around thin stainless steel piping. The different colored passages represent various spaces around either world, creating a journey of migration representing the connection of living spaces shared across global cultural groups.
Artist: Do Ho Suh
Lisa Yuskavage | Ludlow Street, 2017 | Oil on Linen
I love the fresh feeling I get from Yuskavage’s paintings, her use of classical techniques to depict taboo subjects are done without blushing. Her touches of color to enhance normal intimacy feel like an onrushing of rebellious and revolutionary coupling.
Toyin Ojih Odutola | Through Line, 2017 | charcoal, pastel and pencil on paper
Toyin Ojih Odutola is this year’s shining star and art media darling. Her focus is on the sociopolitical construct of skin color through her multimedia drawings, explore her personal journey of having been born in Nigeria then moving and assimilating into American culture in conservative Alabama.