Still Life with Stampede: Perfect Title for a work at NADA
This year NADA opened an additional wing in their Deauville Hotel venue, ushering in smaller galleries and projects, many from Bushwick or from Europe. With less focus on solo shows, however, group presentations tended to frustrate overall coherence and navigation in the fair. Still, a handful of galleries chose to feature single artists, among them Lautom Gallery, where Øystein Aasan showed paintings of irregular and wobbly grids propped back to back upon sculptural display structures. Asasan, like several other exhibiting NADA artists, has been a recent resident at New York’s International Studio and Curatorial Program making it much easier to ship to Miami than from Europe, his gallery reported. Several artists who were at NADA last year, meanwhile, like the painter John McAllister, traded up from the booths at the Deauville Hotel to the Rubell Family Collection this year, a significant real estate advance.
A compelling installation by Belgian artist Harold Ancart, of a charcoal dusting over one hundred square feet of sheetrock, at the booth of Bushwick’s Clearing Gallery, helped break up the monotony of the smaller booths. (Ancart also featured in a group show, “Royal Rumble at Waffle House,” organized by Clearing at the Miami studio of the late Robert Miller.) Dona Nelson’s paintings, displayed on overturned milk crates, were the central feature at Thomas Urban Gallery’s booth. Nearby, at American Contemporary, was David Brooks’ standout piece, Still Life with Stampede and Guano. Made of concrete animal forms painted with wild seabird guano before being varnished, the piece was an Yves Klein-like prank, a commentary on the materials that constitute painting and natural processes.
Dave Miko and Tom Thayer at 11 Rivington blacked out a boxed room and projected psychedelic colors over paintings hung on the walls. Gabriele Hartley’s graphite wallpaper on top of which oil paintings were hung at Foxy Production was another memorable booth. I was later told that paintings had to be ferried out into daylight for collectors to be able to sense their color away from the graphite.
At NADA, as at other fairs, booths that create a singular spatial identity tend to be more memorable. Seeing countless individual works, presented uniformly at eye level, induces a kind of art amnesia. The intensity of seeing in compressed time, a constant looking up close to discern works and far away to navigate through the compartmentalized spaces causes lingering disorientation. But fairs are worth enduring: the dense gathering of art, forcing us to look inside and outside, all the while expressing, announcing, listening, asserting, opining, connecting, hardly sleeping, and describing what we see, is in some basic sense not unlike the process of making art itself.