ART BASEL MIAMI: PART II

As promised in Part I of my Art Basel post, here’s is a quick kaleidoscopic view of some of the innumerable artworks that caught my eye. Enjoy the tour at your leisure ūüôā

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(This is a painting. Yes, believe it or not)

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Brilliant statement of our times…
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Another exquisite painting…
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Azerbaijani artist rethinking traditional rugs…Superb¬†

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And of course, there was people-watching galore…

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CHECK OUT PART I ART BASEL MIAMI FOR AN EYE-OPENING POST ON UNUSUAL ART HERE

 

 

Lisbon, artfully yours

Lisbon¬†offers the visitor grandiose vistas from its seven hills, gastronomic pleasures from the sea, Old World charm,¬†friendly people, fado music and relatively mild weather. For the art seeker, Lisbon’s most¬†iconic¬†artform – hand-painted tile or azulejos –¬†is¬†in¬†plain view. However, tapping into the contemporary art scene takes some sleuthing. I did¬†some digging and uncovered some real finds.

PART I : SKIN DEEP

Lisbon owes much of its charm to the tiles that grace the exterior and interior walls of its buildings. Turn down the alleyways of Chiado or Baixe and the tilework will take your breath away.

The infinite variety of imaginative graphic designs are reminders of¬†the city’s early Moorish influence¬†when the Berber and Arab armies conquered Lisbon in 714 AD.

Christian crusaders invaded in the 12th century, bringing their traditional aesthetics that were eventually reflected in tile art over the next few centuries.

Unfortunately, Lisbon was totally destroyed in 1755 by an earthquake and tsunami. All the wondrous tile facades around the city therefore date back only to the mid-18th century yet they¬†still impart¬†the city’s eclectic history. ¬†I was told that Lisbon’s current mayor encourages international graffiti artists to add¬†their contemporary marks on the city’s ancient walls.

(I didn't need too much prompting - the clothing stores were pretty funky!)
(I didn’t need too much prompting – the Lisbon clothing stores were pretty funky!)

PART II : BEYOND THE WALLS

A visit to the¬†Cole√ß√£o Berardo Museum of¬†Contemporary Art in the Belem district is like walking through a visual Cliff Notes of 20th century art –¬†the line up was impressive: Giorgio de Chirico, Tom Wesselman, Andy Warhol, Cy Twombly, Torres-Garcia, Morandi, Philip Guston, Rothko, Jean Tinguely, and ad infinitum.

Striking a pose in James Turrell's 1969 Fargo, Blue, one of the early works that set the precedent for experiential viewer participation that is the greatest art trend of the 21st century to date.
Striking a pose in James Turrell’s 1967 Fargo, Blue, one of the early works that set the precedent for experiential viewer participation that is the dominant¬†art trend of the 21st century to date.

The Gulbenkian Foundation is a must-see for its twin museums (modern and contemporary) located within a lushly landscaped property in the center of the city. It appears to be a favorite Sunday outing for Lisbon families and it was lovely to see kids on scooters and little tricycles riding past some seriously avant garde art.

Crawling out of an interactive exhibit. The things I do for art's sake....
Crawling out of an interactive exhibit. The things I do for art’s sake….

Although I highly enjoyed these museums I was beginning to despair of finding some fresh new galleries and underground art scene. I lucked out at a restaurant one night when a fellow diner pointed me in the direction of Galeria Graça Brandão in the sleazy bar and night club area. The gallery represents young local artists working in installation and video. From there I was directed to the little known Carpe Diem, a magificent, crumbling palace whose ornately detailed rooms now house cutting edge conceptual works.

Floor installation, Carpe Diem
Floor installation, Carpe Diem
Painting installation, Carpe Diem
Painting installation, Carpe Diem

I’ll wrap up¬†with¬†a few recommended galleries in the¬†Xabregas enclave : Murias Centeno, Baginski, Filomena Soares and Ar Solido. In the Campo de Ourique district, check out Caroline Pages Gallery¬†and Bajinsky.¬†¬†A reminder to¬†any readers¬†who have¬†favorite art haunts in Lisbon – please share. And¬†to the beautiful city of Lisbon and the cute airbnb apartment I stayed in, I say,¬†obrigada!

“Go big or go home!”

Ai Weiwei, Iron Tree, 2013.

According to one influential art critic, “Go big or go home” was the underlying theme at¬†this year’s¬†FIAC¬†– the French International Fair of Contemporary Art,¬†celebrating its 40th year¬†in Paris. Anxious to re-establish its relevancy, FIAC seems to be making a comeback on the global art map. Judging by the oversized artworks on display,¬†I wouldn’t be surprised¬†if¬†this year’s FIAC¬†showstoppers could be seen from space.

Chinese artist Ai Weiwei’s Iron Tree¬†(above) is a good example of FIAC’s supersized sculptures. Weiwei is by far¬†one of my favorite contemporary artists. He likes to think big –¬†very very big.

Artist Weiwei holding handfuls of the millions of porcelain sunflower seeds that make up his installation 'Sunflower Seeds' at the Tate Modern
Artist Weiwei holding handfuls of the millions of porcelain sunflower seeds that make up his installation ‘Sunflower Seeds’ at the Tate Modern

However, while talking to a talented fellow ceramicist¬†today, I was dismayed by his blanket statement about there being no point in¬†his trying to get into¬†galleries because¬†“they just want big”.¬†I take issue with that. Artists these days have to be wary of falling into the trap of thinking that ‘bigger is always better’.

One successful¬†artist who has followed his passion for the other end of the size spectrum is Thomas Doyle who, in his own words, sculpts in “1:43 scale and smaller”¬†(see image below):

Publications such as Newsweek and the Wall Street Journal laud Doyle’s illustrious international career based on his tiny worlds. I was naturally very excited to have him select one of my 4″ high¬†figurines (see below)¬†for the upcoming Small Worlds exhibition opening December 7th at the Target Gallery in the Torpedo Factory, Alexandria.

Goose that Laid the Golden Egg

Likewise, my tiny 5″ x 5″ portrait entitled Le Parisien¬†(below) just won second place in the small format section of the Mortimore Prize for Realism¬†in Australia.

Parisien I medium

Thinking on a gargantuan scale often means that the artists cannot possibly produce the works by themselves. They need to hire a team of assistants to create their masterpieces. I personally would miss making things with my own hands – after all, that’s what drew me to art in the first place.

So for those of us artists who often enjoy creating on a small scale, and for those art appreciators who like to experience artwork of an intimate size, let it be known that we are not going home!

My figurine 'Wet Dreams', recently sold through Susan Calloway Fine Art, Washington DC
My figurine ‘Wet Dreams’, recently sold through Susan Calloway Fine Art, Washington DC
Irit Ovadia Rosenberg suspends tiny clay fragments overlaid with multiple glazes and her signature prints. Currently at Tova Ossman Gallery, Tel Aviv, Israel.
Irit Ovadia Rosenberg suspends tiny clay fragments overlaid with multiple glazes and her signature prints. Currently at Tova Ossman Gallery, Tel Aviv, Israel.