Meghan Watson-Donald 2017-11-30 21:20:10
Innovation and emerging global talent take center stage in the Nova and Positions sectors. Art Basel in Miami Beach is at the forefront of art fairs when it comes to showcasing the best of the new—whether that means fresh-from-the-studio artwork or ambitious new talent—particularly in the Nova and Positions sectors, where, as always, the work is from every corner of the globe. Based in Lima, Peru, and Buenos Aires, Argentina, Revolver Galería exhibits projects by Andrea Galvani and Ishmael Randall Weeks as part of Nova. Weeks creates a dialogue between the landscape of the Andes and modernist utopias with a spiral staircase, weighted with motorized mineral stones, that spins as if it is ascending to nowhere. A commentary on contemporary Peru, the work is juxtaposed with Galvani’s Study on a Rotating Black Hole, which expresses the mathematical equation for black holes in electric blue neon. “The communication with Weeks is the hole going to nowhere,” says gallery director Giancarlo Scaglia. “In a way, he is explaining the darkness with light.” Also in Nova, Silvia Cintra + Box 4, from Rio de Janeiro, showcases Ana Maria Tavares, a leading Brazilian artist of the 1980s, alongside two of her former students, Rodrigo Matheus and Alexandre Canonico. The three artists share a passion for architecture and use industrial materials to create new visions of modernism in Brazil. “Alexandre is more pop,” says gallerist Juliana Cintra, describing Canonico’s use of ready-mades. “Rodrigo is more geometric.” Meanwhile, Tavares has created a series of altered images of renowned Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer’s projects, inventing what Cintra describes as “a crazy new architecture” accompanied by Brazilian Ardosia stones. Turning to Europe, Kadel Willborn, based in Dusseldorf, Germany, comes to Nova with recent works by the influential artist collective Art & Language, as well as by young artists Dani Gal and Natalie Czech, whose projects focus on image, text and music. Czech takes the rhythmic patterns of poems, which can echo the chorus in a piece of music, and connects them to repeating images, such as an old record sleeve from John Lennon’s Imagine. “You start with the visual, and the more time you spend, it opens up on a conceptual level,” says Willborn. Gal makes the idea of time material with a recording of composers John Cage and Morton Feldman discussing the work of Edgard Varèse. The tape runs through a tripod that at once illuminates the recorder and interrupts the recording, revealing the sound of emptiness. Art & Language has created a set of chairs from 24 painted canvases that refer back to earlier collaborations with the psychedelic rock band Red Krayola. The chairs move “from drawing to painting, to the performative act of putting the chairs together, to a sculpture you can actually use,” Willborn explains. “They are questioning the meaning of art. It has this ironic turn.” Also in Nova, Paris’s Galerie Laurent Godin draws a formal link between two very different artists, Alain Séchas and Haim Steinbach. Séchas’s work includes pop-inspired paintings featuring animals against a background of ready-made colors from the tube, whereas Steinbach creates blacklettered texts with phrases borrowed from advertising. “The idea is to consider language as an object,” says Laurent Godin. “The fine black line that you use to draw the letters makes a nice connection with Séchas. … For Séchas, the black line is the pretext to make the painting.” Séchas’s anthropomorphic catlike figures occupy the entirety of his canvases, allowing the artist to play with background and form while making observations about the human condition. Steinbach, meanwhile, concerns himself with the nature of objects, our psychological relationship with them, and the object versus its surface or display. “There is something very French in the paintings of Alain,” says Godin, “and something very American in the work of Haim.” AN EXCAVATION OF POWER AND RESISTANCE IN POSITIONS In the Positions sector, Houston’s Inman Gallery exhibits several projects by Houston-based artist Jamal Cyrus that address black power and resistance in America, under the umbrella title STANDARDZENBLUZ ll. The centerpiece is Pride Record Findings—Tokyo, which chronicles the invented history of the imaginary record label Pride Records. “It’s a story of cultural appropriation and neutralization told through images and small snippets of text,” Cyrus explains. Pride Records begins as a politically minded activist label in Detroit in the late 1960s and early 1970s, aiming to raise the consciousness of black youth, but it is infiltrated by the FBI and coerced into releasing mainstream disco albums, neutralizing its message. “Even though the Pride Records label is fictional, it sets the stage for things that are true,” says Kerry Inman. “Jamal documents the undocumented, acknowledges the underacknowledged.” The work reimagines a wall in a Tokyo record shop, with fake wood paneling and shelves displaying Pride Records Lps, complete with Japanese labels. The 20 Lps include collages, drawings, stencils and one altered album. There is no actual music, says Cyrus, “but they are supposed to generate a certain sound in the viewer’s mind.” Cyrus has also created a sculpture from several volumes of the International Library of Negro Life and History, wrapped in a drumskin. The work is presented on a high shelf, so that “it functions… like a speaker, projecting this history into the room,” Inman explains. “But it’s silent.” Another piece consists of overlapping stencils of historic Houston concert posters featuring Bobby “Blue” Bland, while Jet Auto Archive is a series of collages using entire issues of Jet magazine, torn up and recombined in systematic ways, stemming from the artist’s interest in the magazine’s decline from progressive publication to sales platform for beauty products and liquor. “Jamal is interested in the articulation of black identity in society,” says Inman. But his approach is “a little more obscure and poetic. It allows the rest of us in, in a beautiful way.” Andrea Galvani, Study on a Rotating Black Hole, 2016-2017, presented by Revolver Galería in the Nova sector (seen here is an installation view at the Mart Museum | Galleria Civica di Trento). Jamal Cyrus, The Dowling Street Martyr Brigade—Towards a Walk in the Sun, Pride Catalog #2235, 2005, detail of a record included in Pride Record Findings—Tokyo, 2005-2017, presented by Inman Gallery in the Positions sector. “YOU START WITH THE VISUAL, AND THE MORE TIME YOU SPEND, IT OPENS UP ON A CONCEPTUAL LEVEL.” –MORITZ WILLBORN
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