Art Basel Miami Beach featured 277 galleries from around the world. The art market is tepid at the moment and so the dealers all put together booths that were even higher quality than usual. Competition was fierce but many gallerists did quite well despite the difficult and uncertain economic climate.
Nate Lewis Riddled with Dissonance, 2023, Hand sculpted inkjet print, ink, graphite, colored pencil sticks, frottage, embossing of musical score. Vielmetter Photo Credit: Courtesy of Vielmetter
Nate Lewis’s work is mesmerizingly intricate in execution and content. His artworks are multimedia masterpieces that explore painting, drawing, and sculpted paper. Lewis has worked the paper in this piece as much as humanly possible to create a rich texture and imbue the artwork with rhythm and form, there is even a musical score embedded in the piece. Lewis’s mastery of anatomy is obvious as you see figures expertly rendered here yet his sense for composition is also extraordinary. Lewis has also included a self-portrait at the lower right. The breathtaking abstract elements are painstakingly crafted and the color palette is both harmonious and soothing. This work also has what appears to be a cornucopia in the top right corner, a sign of abundance, and in this case an apt metaphor for Lewis’s plethora of talent.
Anicka Yi, †WLETPR+L, 2023 Acrylic, UV print, aluminum artist’s frame Gladstone Gallery
Anicka Yi’s sumptuous mixed-media piece is immediately captivating as the layers slowly reveal themselves. At first glance, it feels like a lenticular print before one realizes just how much hand work has gone into the piece. There is delicacy and intricacy that are beautifully intertwined in a nebulous form of subtle color. The palette is pleasing and the artwork is sumptuous, a feast for the eyes, even invoking the feeling of a cherry sundae without a reference. It appears to be pure abstraction but the work is successful in making the viewer feel that there could be a milieu of references here. The artist’s frame further enhances the experience as Yi has meticulously calculated every aspect of this peace.
Marcel Broodthaers Grand moule de moules, 1965-1966 Mussel shells and resin Marian Goodman Gallery
This assemblage of shells is captivating at first glance. Those who know art history will know Broodthaer’s recurring use of this material; however, those who don’t can easily access the content of this piece. There is power in numbers and placing this many bivalve shells together creates a maze of curvilinear forms that weave into a solid shape. The work feels like a vessel but there is no cavity in the piece and there is also no way through it. One cannot help but wonder about just what the purpose of the object may be before realizing that it is an entirely philosophical experience.
A.R. PENCK “tskrie VIII°, 1984 Dispersion on canvas Michael Werner
Primitive forms dance around in this large-scale painting. The piece is rhythmic and the blocky nature of the painting enhances the robust color choice. Figures dance around the horizontal plane and symbols are also used in addition to letters. It is hard to express just how this piece feels in person as the scale envelops the viewer and thrusts them into the scene. A stick figure at the far left holds what may be a gun while a giant at the right holds what appears to be a sword. Perhaps this is a battle scene after all and a powerful attempt at a new take on history painting. The cryptic title is also scrawled at the top right of the piece in a moment of self-awareness.
Kylie Manning Yesterday 2023 Pace
What first appears as a mountainous landscape yields to a skillfully painted rendition of two figures. As the figures become clear the composition shifts to free-form abstraction. There are rich gestural marks and long flowing sections of paint that make it obvious just how talented Manning is. There is even a crimson splotch of paint that jumps out amidst the soothing blues and grays that make up the scene. This painting is extremely successful in inviting the audience to experience the whimsy of Manning’s world, a world replete with serenity.
Reginald O’Neal The Cellist, 2023 Expanded polystyrene (EPS) foam, polyurethane paint and topcoat; Spinello
A monumental figure sits with his back turned to the viewer. The spectator must walk around this large object To see the performer, they are forced to physically engage with the piece. It recalls Maurizio Cattelan’s sculpture of him in a way but this figure is referencing another oppressive force, segregation. Black entertainers were often allowed to perform for white audiences which emphasizes the hypocrisy of the policies of the time of segregation. O’Neal is speaking out against the commodification of artists and entertainers as well, this figurine truly has no interest in engaging with an audience that is not willing to acknowledge it.
Bony Ramirez El Fogón, 2023 Acrylic, soft oil pastel, color pencil, wood, metal screws, nails, ceramic tea cups, metal and aluminum kitchenware Jeffrey Deitch
This assemblage shows a man in a window frame that is made up of pieces of wood adorned with kitchenware. Perhaps it is a window to a kitchen and the man is working within but it could also be someone at a window waiting for a food order. There are dazzling colors used in the ears of the figure and the surface of the painted vignette is smooth. The man wears an expression of malaise as he blankly stares at whatever is in front of him. The construction of the piece is as skillfully executed as the painted portion. Ramirez is someone whose talent for mixed media is sure to carry them extremely far.
Paula Rego Marathon (Running I), 1983 Acrylic on paper on canvas Victoria Miro
Women ride birds and rabbits while mice with erections run around in this frenzied medley by Paula Rego. One cannot help but think of Hieronymous Bosch when interpreting this chaotic scene. It could be a hellscape but parts of it even look like a day at the beach. The mystery of the allegory is powerful and complimented by the orgiastic energy of the work. Rego painted this in response to the NYC Marathon and perhaps the chaos of that day is exactly what is captured here. Her work changed throughout her career and this is a piece that shows a powerful period of artistic development.
Suchitra Mattai Re-Union, 2023 Vintage saris, ribbon and armature Roberts Projects Recycled saris Photo Credit: Courtesy of Roberts Projects
Suchitra Mattai has created a work reminiscent of a family portrait as two girls stand and engage with each other in a silent conversation. The work is made up of vintage saris and ribbon giving a perfect balance of vibrant and muted tones. This piece explores identity through anonymous figures made from materials that are often used to express individuality and reflect a personal fashion sense. The figures morph into a covering on a plinth that looks around them in a swirl of pattern and color. Each figure seems directly related to the circle of color below them. The construction of the piece is also mind-blowing given just how much fabric is intertwined via small facets throughout.
Paul Anthony Smith Dreams Deferred #65, 2023 Oil stick and spray paint on inkjet print mounted on Dibond Photo Credit: Courtesy of Timothy Taylor and the Artist.
Paul Anthony Smith invites the viewer in with vibrant colors and keeps us out with an imposing fence motif that envelops the painting. The fence is printed and then painted over in gestural marks and strong colors for the flora. The flatness of the sky is striking and Smith has also continued to emphasize the barrier in certain parts of the canvas. We are privy to the view but not granted entry. The horizontal composition is also effective in creating the feeling of looking at a landscape with a yearning to enter. The setting is that of a tropical gated area, perhaps referencing the artist’s native Jamaica. There are hints of Monet and Hockney; however, Smith is a titan in his own right.
This edition of Art Basel Miami Beach was as good of a presentation as I have seen in my years of coming here. The dealers all put their best food forward to keep collectors excited and engaged with many of the best artists in the world.
Words/Photos Clayton Calvert Top Photo: Parker Calvert © Artlyst 2023