Friday, December 03, 2010

Art Basel MB week: Day Three

Definitely lots more people today walking about the art fairs, if not necessarily buying the art off the walls, although there were certainly a lot more interest, loads more questions, lots more people asking for business cards and info on artists, some museum curators walking about, etc.

Jus in BelloAbout 1% of all that will lead to actual sales later on in the "wake effect" of being at an art fair.

Some of the close calls were of the "WTF" kind. Such as the fact that Judith Peck's gorgeous and intelligent (and signature piece) "Jus in Bello" was twice in a "first right of refusal" status; twice!

And one couple has come back three nights in a row to look at one of Lou Gagnon pastels.

MFA today sold two Sheila Giolitti resin oil paintings, a couple more of my drawings, and one more Andrew Wodzianski android gouache as well as the first Alexey Terenin oil of the fair.

Fight over Campello video of Che GuevaraAs I noted earlier, towards the end of the night I almost had my clock cleaned by an older British gent who was irate over my Guevara video drawing. A small crowd gathered as he threatened to hit me. Apparently his Cuban-born wife had been mistreated by Che in the early 60s in Cuba and also her brother had been executed by Guevara during his reign of terror as the chief executor of the Cuban Revolution.

Since this has happened several times this week, by now I have a "system", and soon he was all "explained-out" about the ying yang meaning of this complex piece. In the background, the gigantic figure of DC artist Andrew Wodzianski was covering my back while snapping photos with his phone as a curious crowd gathered. That's one of 11 pics he took.

Two more days left, although from my experience, Saturday is truly the last "real" day as Sunday is strollers day and pack out nightmare evening.

Art Basel MB week: Day Three (0730 report)

I'm almost punched out by a British old man who is married to a Cuban lady whose brother was executed by Che Guevara. He is offended by my video drawing of Che.

I calm him down and explain the piece to him. Andrew Wodzianski is in the background taking pictures; they will be up tomorrow.

Art Basel MB week: Day Three (1300 report)

I walked Scope today at noon and chatted with Civilian Art Projects's folks, dropped them two cold Bustelo's cafe con leche cans and took a walk through the fair. Civilian is showing DMV artist Trevor Young and has so far sold three of Young's gorgeous paintings.

Having walked both Art Miami yesterday and now Scope, I can offer the opinion that at least this year, Art Miami blows Scope away as far as the quality and depth of the art being exhibited. Both are also far better than Red Dot.

There is a lot of video in Art Miami, and a lot of video artists are now doing what DMV artist Tim Tate started doing years ago: taking the video out of the DVD player and incorporating it into sculptural elements. It's a lot easier to justify buying a video when you actually have it as a "showable" work - I think.

But anyway, Scope is somewhat suffering from the "so yesterday" look to a lot of the dated artwork being exhibited. To start, there's a disproportionate number of Chinese and other Asian artists in the fair, all showing the kind of work that was the rage of the art fairs three, four years ago, but that is now so diluted and overexposed that all that it gets is a glance. Then you realize (after talking to someone who knows this) that Art Asia and Scope are together under the same tent and sharing the same floor!

So all the Asian art is actually the Art Asia Art Fair and not the Scope Art Show, but nearly everyone that I talked to was as confused as I was: I thought it was all Scope!

In the real Scope there's also an abundance of artwork that appropriates Marylin Monroe's iconic images and puts them into glittery, shiny surfaces, odd surfaces, fill-in-the-blank surfaces, etc.

It is mostly crap, with the exceptional work of Romero Fudyma at Gallery Biba. Fudyma's sculptural approach to Monroe takes the icon to a stereographic three dimensions that has a hypnotizing effect.

There is also a lot of "angry artist" writing on the wall "art" -- sort of "so last century" work by a couple of European galleries. Speaking of writing, a Costa Rican gallery has a series of blackboards with chalk writing on them with repeated sentences as one would find in the old days when teachers would actually punish a Bart Simpson type kid with writing "I will not be late for school" 100 times on the board.


Other blase and thankfully out of vogue artwork still showing up for some reason at Scope are the big-eyed 1960 Sears type painting of kids that were all the rage a few years ago and that immediately upon falling out of rage a few hours later disappeared from the art scene, but it is clear that at least one gallery didn't get that fax.

Rafel BestardOne of the best set of works at Scope are the superb paintings by Rafel Bestard at Barcelona's Galeria Contrast. These gorgeous, sexy paintings are worth the trip to Scope alone!

There's a moist sensuality to Bestard's treatment of the subject matter, coupled with a photographic artifice that fools the eye, and which upon closer inspection reveals unexpected textural qualities that almost denies the first photorealism impression.

The sense of sensuality of the works on exhibit also have a strong dose of danger attached to them. Are these wet dreams or are they nightmares? Is the dreamer a frustrated sexpot or a dangerous psychopath?

My suggestion to the 2011 Scope gallery selection committee is simple: Shoot for a 50% refresh rate of new galleries; you need some new blood and need to adjust your rudder to 2011.