Notable at NADA
In the second of our dispatches from the Miami art fairs, artcritical editor David Cohen’s impressions of the New Art Dealers Alliance fair
The half-and-half English/French name of New Galerie signals a foot on each side of the pond, perhaps, of a Paris-based gallery with a presence in the Film Center building in Hell’s Kitchen. They are exhibiting for the first time at NADA, the New Art Dealer’s Alliance fair at the Deauville Resort, Miami, with a two-person collaboration that extends this binary thing: Danish artist Maiken Bent and Angelino Lizzie Fitch made art together that responded to their conceptions of each other’s work. Bent contributes the conceit of fair-ready art, taut with packing pulleys and bungee ropes; from Fitch, another kind of tautness, with fierce-looking D-rings connecting fused plywood elements, a wax-cast lower leg, flowing printed fabric. The rhetoric is provisional but the look is finessed, in a Frenchn (or Danish, or LA) kind of way.
Nicelle Beauchene, the Lower East Side dealer, has drawings by Louise Despont of almost outsider artist intensity: heraldic, decorative, made up of geometrically-elaborating architectural elements delivered in a cross-hatched almost obsessive, micrographic hand. Lisa Cooley, a gallerist from the same neighborhood, has a four-person show that includes Alan Reid’s Disco Lyrics, 2012, a portrait at 40 inches high of a young woman, wistful alike in demeanor and colored pencil dispatch, upon whom are superimposed cutout impasto-painted foamcore horns, an homage of sorts to Francis Picabia’s transparencies.
In similar nod-to-art-history-but-feeling-very-current mode, Cologne’s DESAGA has French painter/sculptor Nathalie De Pasquier’s Purist stiff-life colored wood constructions and creamy flat oil paintings that put me in mind of overlooked Cubist master Amédée Ozenfant in their nursery-hued idealism. More literally on the subject of classic moderns revisited, Rome dealer Federica Schiavo’s booth was dominated by a full-wall wallpaper installation by Miami-based Bhakti Baxter (he is included in the current show of new work at the Miami Art Museum) in which a 1930s biomorphic Henry Moore mother and child is placed in a tropical jungle, as if to repatriate the pre-Columbian influenced English master’s creation. In a similar ploy, incidentally, Moore liked to photograph maquette of his figures against rolling hills to reveal their monumentality.
On Stellar Rays, yet another LES dealer has a compellingly-weird animation piece by digital artist Brody Condon. The artist modifies game technology, inserting figures of his own invention. A dancing female figure recalls Cranach in her \angular mannerist distortion while the tattooed gawking males are pure frat boy geeks. The artist finds that the spatial organization of the game technology owes more to the northern than Italian renaissance conceptions of landscape, I am told.
With all the manipulation, obsessiveness, collaborations, deconstructions and hands-off aesthetics at play, it is a miracle to find there is still pure expression that can grab you by the eyeball—like the Viennese Stefan Sandner’s simple, clean yet seismic white lines on chalkboard green/gray, on view at American Contemporary.
American Contemporary, I’m embarrassed on writing up my Nada impressions to recall, is yet another outfit from New York’s Lower East Side. Is this a case, I wonder, of “you can take the art critic out of the ghetto but…”?