Savvy Playfulness at Untitled, the first fair to open in Miami this week
Untitled, Ocean Drive and 12th Street, Miami Beach, Florida, through December 8, 2013
The Untitled tent is a beauty, a sleek luminous airplane hangar. It doesn’t hurt that you approach from the beach, walking across long carpets laid in the sand. Inside, after a brief collector bottleneck, the space felt invitingly high and bright. Pausing to look up and around, visitors could almost literally stumble across the amazing Jacolby Satterwhite, in a brightly colored body suit, performing a kind of slow-motion break dance, and then leading us, pied-piper style further into the interior.
A first circuit and a couple of drinks left an overwhelmingly positive, and surprisingly coherent impression. The dominant mode seemed to be ingenious high-key abstract painting—rippling patterns, tweaked 3D surfaces, imagery partly camouflaged under layers of eye-candy. Some examples, chosen nearly at random: Letha Wilson’s beguiling meta-marbleizing “paintings,” in fact made of concrete and crumpled photographic prints (at Romer Young); Wendy White’s crepuscular sprayed abstractions (at Anna Kustera), Josh Marsh’s weird, floating, prismatic apple-cores—like a cross between Ivan Albright and Gorky (at Jeff Bailey), and at Zürcher, Brian Belott’s wall of small highly decorative panels, each built around a single dirty sock.
Of course, further circuits (but alas not more drinks– they were too expensive) complicated that impression: there was, for instance, some striking black-and-white photography, including Carlheinz Weinberger’s biker portraits (at Rod Blanco), and Duane Michael’s portraits of Andy Warhol (at DC Moore). But certain art world staples—stark geometry, youth culture, or for that matter, sex and politics—seemed surprisingly scarce. Subject matter was largely an oblique presence here; instead, the spirit of the event, perhaps in keeping with the fair’s own wry title, was a kind of savvy playfulness.