Miami: Hub of the rich and famous, home of art deco, Cuban-style hot rods, Latin culture, palm trees, blue skies and blue waters. It is also one of three international cities to host Art Basel. For the uninitiated, Art Basel is one of THE most important annual events in the artworld. Galleries, artists, collectors and art lovers from all over the globe descend for a week of intense – and I mean intense – art immersion. I’m talking about hundreds of exhibiting galleries and over 100,000 visitors. If you get saturated after visiting a museum, you might want to think twice about visiting Art Basel!!! For me, though, it was Heaven.
It would be impossible to relay the scope of paintings of every type, size, and subject, sculptures big and small of every material conceivable, photographic works and digital compositions. So for digestibility, I will focus on artworks that use unconventional materials. It’s a trend I found incredibly interesting and one that demonstrates the infinite creativity that artists bring into our lives. I challenge you, my readers, to guess what medium the following artworks are made from. (NB My sincerest apologies to those artists whose names I failed to record.)
Nice nostalgic scene, right? Well, there’s a bit more to the artist’s method: used jeans!
This next artist creates large and beautifully composed abstract compositions from….
…collaged pieces of chipped paint collected from crumbling buildings all over the world!
By far one of my favorite work was by Italian artist, Andrea Salvador. These gorgeous works below blew my socks off – wait till you see what they are made of…
The big reveal:
Salvador creates his photorealistic works from hand-chipped glass mosaic. I met the Venetian glass blower who created the custom glass colors ordered by the artist. Wow.
There were numerous artists whose works used traditional craft methods like quilting and embroidery to create fine art works that took the craft to a totally new level:
I’m pretty sure you’ll never guess what material the next artist used to create this huge watercolor-like painting that had me stumped until I got the lowdown from the gallerist:
Give up? Plastic bags fused onto a huge canvas…
And another head scratching work…
Cuban artist Jorge Otero’s lifesized work was striking and fascinatingly unique. Venture to take a guess at how he achieved this beautiful effect? Woven photographs!
I’m willing to bet that no-one recognizes the elements used in the following wall hanging:
Used and stained computer keyboard keys…
If you aren’t wowed by now, I don’t know what to say. I’ll leave you on a lighter note with an artist who has playfully and successfully ($2500 a piece!) re-purposed vintage bowling pins.
Check out my next blog post ART BASEL MIAMI PART II where you’ll find a broad range of art that caught my eye. In the meantime, wishing you all a wonderful Holiday Season. You can find out more about all the satellite art fairs here and here.
Art Basel Miami is THE North American art event of the year. It’s hard to overstate its hype and importance in the art world. Over 250 international and US galleries are represented, drawing more than 70,000 visitors to Miami. Every establishment in the city hitches a ride on this massive event. It’s an opportunity for anyone involved in art, food, culture and fashion to shine. I got a sneak peak at one small sliver of Art Basel at Wynwood Walls.
Wynwood is the artsy/funky/upcoming neighborhood in Miami that boasts wall art that goes way beyond graffitti. In fact some of these magnificent wall paintings are protected 24/7 by uniformed guardians. I came across a number of selected artists for Wynwood Basel hard at work completing their giant commissions.
There were some truly magnificent walls. Here is a small selection.
One of my favorites was a clever take on Picasso’s famous bull composed of found objects:
Another 20′ wall was painted to advertise an exhibition at a nearby gallery. Impressive.
Next year I hope to get more than just a tiny taste of this global art destination.
Let’s welcome the New Year in with a smile. Say cheese!
My time at the VCCA artist residency in Auvillar is sadly coming to a close. There will be much to miss. Roasted chestnuts/bedding airing on windowsills framed by blue shutters/ children who pass you in the street and greet you politely with a Bonjour, madame/the accordion music that drifts out of the house by the bend in the road/the long, silent hours of uninterrupted writing/the sharing of creative trials and tribulations/the weekly communal meals/the telling of time by the tolling of church bells rather than the screen of an iPhone.
And of course, the gorgeous countryside. I sometimes feel like I am on the set of a French version of Frances Mayes’ Under the Tuscan Sun. Come and join me on the bike ride I took this morning and you’ll see what I mean. Allons-y!
I had a very productive writing residency here, and I also completed a labor-intensive painting, entitled Les murs, The Walls. Walls in medieval villages like Auvillar speak of the passage of time. They reveal glimpses of centuries gone by, the marks of masons and artisans long gone who added to existing layers rather than destroy what came before. In this painting, I have left traces of multiple layers in the hopes of creating a textured, timeless piece. The result pleasingly resembled a fresco – another wall association!
Oh, and if you’re headed this way tomorrow night, please drop in on our literary salon:
Artist and writer Lilianne MILGROM will introduce the project that she is working on while in residence. She will show us the artwork by Gustave COURBET that has inspired her writing and then read an extract of her novel in French and in English.
Lilianne Milgrom says “My life revolves around art – creating art, looking at art and writing about art. My work can be found in both private and institutional collections worldwide.”
“The current residency in Auvillar is the first residency in which I am concentrating primarily on writing rather than painting. I am working on a novel, inspired by Gustave Courbet.” www.liliannemilgrom.com/
Poet Kathryn LEVY will introduce her work in French then read several of her poems in English as well as a couple in French.
Kathryn LEVY is author of the poetry collections Losing the Moon and Reports, a finalist for the 2014 Midwest Book Award. Her work has appeared in various journals including Slate, Hanging Loose and Seattle Review, among many others. Her numerous writing fellowships include awards from Yaddo, MacDowell and VCCA.
I have been known to paint on wood, canvas, ceramics, paper, furniture and clothing, and even tried painting on kids’ birthday cakes with colored frosting. Some artists use skin as a canvas. But unlike decorative body painting and tattoos, artist Emma Hack has taken this living medium to an entirely new level. It might require you to look twice at the work below to discern the human body in her gorgeous works; Emma is the master of camouflage.
Hack’s work is part installation and part body mural. An Artnet News interview reports that Hack, an Australian artist, spends between 8 to 15 hours to complete one of her works, which sounds like speed painting to me. Her wallpaper series, above, is based on patterns created by the late designer Florence Broadhurst.
Unfortunately, outstanding art is often not enough on its own to propel an artist into international stardom. In Hack’s case, she made it to the big leagues when her work appeared in a music video that went viral. The video is pretty awesome and worth a few minutes of your time.
Alexa Meade‘s work is very different from Emma Hack’s yet they have both developed a totally original way of incorporating the human body in their oeuvre. Meade paints an expressionistic portrait directly on her subject’s face, clothes, hair creating a strange new dimension – it’s not clear exactly what we are looking at until her subject starts to move!
It may be confusing to get your head around Meade’s process so I will leave it up to the artist to explain in the short TED talk youtube below.
Meade made it into the Washington Post when she unleashed one of her walking portraits on the metro. I think this is great. I’m all for a painter who makes people sit up and take notice.
If you are as impressed with these artists as I am, here are links to more of their work :
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.
PART II :BEYOND THE WALLS
A visit to theColeção 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.
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.
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.
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!
Contemporary art chafes against constraint of any shape or form. This manifests itself in many ways, from seeking out unexpected and alternative venues for exhibiting art, to experimenting with new media and materials that until recently were not part of the artistic lexicon. Light is one of those relatively new mediums that has been harnessed and embraced as a legitimate art form, successfully championed (see above) by the minimalist artist Dan Flavin (1933-1996), James Turell and Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson to mention a few.
On a recent visit to The Philips Collection in D.C. I was introduced to the dazzling works of Bernardi Roig, an artist from Palma de Mallorca whose installations combine the power of light with figurative sculpture.
Several of Roig’s works were spread throughout the museum – inside and out. The image of a life sized figure dragging a long train of light like penance was startling. There was something absurd and meaningless about this activity yet one felt that the figure was committed to this journey and accepted his fate. I responded deeply to the work despite the ‘artspeak’ text provided by the museum: “Roig’s work addresses existential dualities of blinding and illumination, absence and presence, memory and temporality as well as entrapment and liberation.” Sometimes it’s best to just look at the art and let it speak for itself.
Another artist who works in a most extraordinary new medium is German-born artist Wolfgang Laib. His medium of choice is beeswax. The Philips Collection commissioned him to create a permanent installation within the museum. The result is a small chamber, not much larger than a closet, that is totally covered in burnished beeswax.
For this particular work, the artist was inspired by Rothko and I see the connection in the subtle play of color tones created by the wax. Entering the space one is assaulted by a heady aroma of honey warmed by a single light bulb. I don’t know if I was imagining it, but I thought I could even hear the murmur of the hive….
(f you’re fascinated by the way artists can use beeswax, check out another up-and-coming artist who works in the same medium – Jessica Sanders.)