Monday, March 5, 2007


The ADAA fair was far superior in quality and presentation compared to Armory and Scope. The amount of booths showing was tolerable and space in between isles were breathable. Majority of works exhibited were what you'd find in art history books from early 20th century to postmodern, from Picasso to Fred Sandback and a minimal display of emerging art. The crowd attending the fair differed greatly from whatever people watching I encountered at the other fairs: bourgeois deep pocketed retired individuals with heavy makeup covering layers of wrinkles and enough perfume to rid the odor of a hobbit.
Some highlights:
Fred Sandback at David Zwirner, 2 strings attached to the wall down to the floor, abstract and minimal, a direct encounter between viewer and work as we share the same space, emphasizing the lack of volume and the space it doesn't occupy. A poor space to exhibit since the sculpture is heavily based on its communication with its environment. The pieces are so much more appropriate in a setting like Dia Beacon where they can reveal their significance with more freedom and impact. It was awkward and visually limiting to see the piece in an art fair booth environment.
Cy Twombly at L&M Fine Arts for $485,000. His works are commonly described as graffiti, with an inscriptive nature that is illegible but maintains the gesture of writing, which makes me wonder: is he communicating within a mindset of a child limited in vocabulary and the outcome is merely frustrated scribbles of nonsense and hysteria?
Rona Pondick's Cat at Sonnabend. I found it grotesque, menacing and disturbingly androgynous.
John Currin at John Bergmen Gallery. I found this grotesque and disturbing as well. But not as bad as his disfigured and heinously morphed females.

My most admired Egon Schiele at Galerie St. Etienne. Raw and decomposing skin colors, figures always skeletal and erotic. Merging love and death with passion and suffering. The male figure looks like Prince.
Richard Kalina at Lennon, Weinberg. Anything with geometric abstract grid patterns captures my attention. Such works lets me get lost and over-empowers me with its spellbinding movement that is a manipulative play to the eye.
Jim Hodges at CRG Gallery. Contemporary, refreshing and unconventional, created from ordinary everyday objects such as discarded clothes and chains of different widths to form spider webs along the walls. This booth received much publicity for the solo booth show and its unquiet presentation compared to the stiffer neighbors. Ephemeral meets the mundane in these conglomerative works.
Jean DuBuffet at Jeffrey H Loria & Co, INC.
I thought this was more graffiti than Cy Twombly. A mixture of what alludes automotive parts, industrial, anthropomorphic, and organic, this sculptural form was mounted on the wall like a painting but protruded off a significant amount. It's abstraction and disorganized arrangement and outlined edges were enticing.
Colin Brown at Fischbach Gallery. Process-based art, a long and tedious technique to create this photographic night city scape made from nickel on board using white powder, engraving tools, black on white background and gesso. Reminds me of the spraypainted fantasy scapes sold on the sidewalks near times square and other tourist locations.
Andy Warhol's Two Sisters (after de Chirico) from 1982, serigraph ink and acrylic on canvas. I appreciate both artists and especially love the play on color overlapping the repetitive images creating a separate entity and character for each.
Lee Krasner at Knoedler & Company. While Pollock was indulging himself with dancing paint gestures dripping away Lee Krasner was involved in a less self-centered art making practice creating grids of color and pattern influenced by hieroglyphic illustrations. The outcome is just as abstract and ambiguous as Pollocks but without the arrogance of a misogynist.
Takashi Murakami at Greenberg Van Doren. I would say its cute except it's intimidatingly large and is titled Mr. Pointy. Phallic and fuzzy don't go together too well for me.
Lesly Dill's Scrolled Torso at George Adams gallery from 1995, photo silkscreen, ink, shellar thread, wire, gauze on tea stained muslin. Too gothy, masochistic teenager angst for me but I can definitely appreciate it for its expressive technique and feminist agenda.
My newly discovered favorite: Wangechi Mutu at Sikkema Jenkins. Her collages are vibrant and intense, apocalyptic and grotesque, feminine and political, ethereal and provocative. She is also showing at the side room in the gallery. She stars in some videos and photographs in Lorna Simpson's work up now at Whitney. I am her new fan.
Shahzia Sikander also at Sikkema Jenkins: decorative floral designs mixed within cultural specifics, her drawings are delicate and refined, detailed and usually on a smaller scale in reference to miniature painting within her native culture. Her animation videos are witty and historical, with rhythmic sound affects that drum to actions of fairy tale figures and ephemeral backgrounds.

An Ad Reinhardt retro at Pace Wildenstein: colorful rectilinear abstract grids that are haphazard and spontaneous in arrangement, full of shapes and patterns that are difficult to distinguish and make sense of. I found them stubbornly organic and a bit frustrated: like he wanted to create expressive gestures that were free and unlimited but keep hindering himself within the edges of the canvas.
Jean Helion at Adler and Conkright Fine Art. A curvaceous Mondrian.
Ai Wei Wei at Robert Miller gallery. It stands 8 feet tall and 2.5 feet wide. Gigantic glazed ceramic, rebelling against the idea of a functional object. A defiant and outspoken monument.

Louis Bourgeois' Femme series at Cheim & Read. Her sculptures are deformed and passionate, making literal statements about a femininity that is culturally appropriated. Each piece is created with a sense of anger and punishment, fetishistic and sexually violent.

Overall I found ADAA to be educationally fulfilling. I got to see works that were justifiably expensive for their artistic excellence and art historical significance. Walking from booth to booth was like flipping through a disorganized art book which made it difficult to comprehend with a clear lens but was informational enough to be able to contemplate and reflect on each piece.

Thursday, March 1, 2007


I attended the Scope fair for the first time last week and unfortunately I was disappointed. It was smaller than I expected, not that I would've wanted another Armory, but I was hoping for an alternative emerging art that was engaging and refreshing. Perhaps I make it sound worse than it really is, I must give it credit for exhibiting some neat unconventional work, but for the most part I found the works at the fair over-determined and pompous.
An amusing observation were the performances that were simultaneously wandering around the booths: a taller healthy woman with white latex swimming bottoms with rings of power cords around her neck and shoulders carrying a radio starring at art and occasionally changing the channel, I overheard her say "I am my own power source" or something to that extent. Then there was a mini doll house with wheels with a skinny asian guy inside strolling around each isle taking up space, there was a sign on top "art for sale $2.00". Then there was a short lady with a black trench coat video taping herself standing and occasionally flashing a passerby, opening up her jacket to reveal a red lingerie outfit.
Few highlights:
Lisa Kereszi at Yancey Richardson. I know I'm not the only one fooled to think it was Kirsten Dunst.
Aaron Llyod at Begona Malone in Madrid. There's something simultaneously comical and eerily dark about these drawings that made me laugh and turn up my eyebrows at the same time.

At Lincart booth, didn't catch artist name. Really annoying when you exhibit for a fair and think you're too good to put labels on the wall. Contradictory isn't it? This I thought was a mix between painted sea shells and painted fake nails.

At Magnan Enrich, medium: cockroaches and crushed flies.
Will Ryman's "Lovers" at Marlborough, made from magic sculpt, resin, acrylic paint, and copper. I think picture makes for a perfect postcard. Their undulating body and oversized head with tribal face features are contradictory but make for an overall amorous sculpture.
Roman de Salvo's "Naughty Pine" at Steve Turner Contemporary. Three natural circular shapes have been cut and mechanized to pop in and out of the wood panel. And given a sexual pun of a title, it's not all that convincing and is rather vulgar and obnoxious.
Alan Rath at Bryce Wolkowitz, a video sculptor with an MIT degree in electrical engineering. Far more intriguing than 3 wooden knobs playing whack-a-mole, this piece screens eyes that are at wrong ends framed by glasses, moving in all directions as if in mode of surveillance. It brings up subject of isolation, paranoia, and is as humorous as it is challenging.
And my favorite from the fair: Wu Junyong's animation dvd at Chinese Contemporary. He also has a show at the new york gallery on 24th street until March 22nd. Part of the "Opera Series", the animation depicts Chinese culture and specifically narrows on the behaviors of politicians and a changing state of society in contemporary China. The artist mocks and satirizes specific symbols and actions of Chinese culture by engaging nude men with red dunce caps to dance and frolic about a stage giving a performance that is surreal and perverse, backed by beats that coincide with each movement/scene.
Scope fair was overall a neat circus freak show with trinkets and curiosities, an entertaining past time event to satisfy the bored and the restless.