The Highlights at Miami Art Basel 2016

The Highlights at Miami Art Basel 2016

V’s Nadja Sayej reports on this year’s epicenter of art and culture, which drew names and crowds from around the globe.

V’s Nadja Sayej reports on this year’s epicenter of art and culture, which drew names and crowds from around the globe.

Photography: Janice Marin

Text: Nadja Sayej

Miami art week came and left in a flash. The annual shindig for contemporary art had 10,000 out-of-towners soaking up all the Uber calls that apparently left some locals miffed. Still, there were enough parties around town to bring some smiles under the sunshine, and several selfies at the beach and in front of artworks.

Fashion icon Michele Lamy, wife of Rick Owens, did a performance alongside A$AP Rocky where they took white oil sticks and traced their feet and invited the audience to come onstage to scrawl whatever they wanted. It was part of a party organized by Silencio, which is David Lynch’s nightclub in Paris, for an artwork created by Caecilia Tripp.

Madonna played the new Faena Forum venue as part of a fundraiser for Malawi, Courtney Love starred in a theatre piece called Kansas City Choir Boy alongside musician Todd Almond, and the rappers were in full effect: Puff Daddy, Tyga and Lauryn Hill played concerts in Miami during art week.

Art Basel Miami Beach featured a stunning showcase of Russian avant-garde art at the Galerie Gmurzynska booth, where works by artists like Alexander Rodchenko, Kasimir Malevich and Ilya Chasnik were on view. The booth was designed by Claude Picasso, son of famed artist Pablo Picasso, who has a history of working as a graphic designer since he first was a photo intern with Richard Avedon in the 1970s. the show celebrated the centennial of the Russian Revolution of 1917, marking a hundred years since the uprising ended the imperial rule of Nicholas II—the last Russian czar. These works and more will be celebrated next year with Russian avant-garde art surveys at the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the TATE Modern in London.

Other highlights from Art Basel include works by Margaret Kilgallen at San Francisco gallery Ratio 3, which featured small paintings and drawings. The cartoonish figures show women provocatively taking control in everyday situations, which are both serious and playful.

A stunning presentation of concrete-esque sculptures is on view at the National YoungArts Foundation’s Jewel Box for “Roots,” a solo show by New York-based artist Jose Parla. The artist, who grew up in Miami, has roots in street art—his abstract pieces call to mind spray paint clouds and graffiti tagging, which he was introduced to back in the 1980s. The sculptures in particular are inspired by the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, which was last year. Parla’s parents fled Cuba in the 1970s for America and he said this show ties into the influence the fall of the Wall had on Cuba and President Obama’s talks with Cuba in 2015. The show was made possible by Rolls Royce, which had a purple car rolling around the street art-laden Wynwood district, drawing attention from passers by.

Some highlights at the Untitled Art Fair included works by Canadian artist Dean Baldwin at Katharine Mulherin Contemporary Art’s booth, which featured his eclectic “Piano Bar” (2012), a piano that has literally been turned into a self-made, D.I.Y. bar—half-full bottles of gin, rum and even an outstretched coaster for a glass of red wine for the piano player. And Berlin’s Galerie Burster showed digital color field paintings by New York artist Richard Garet, which lit up the booth like a warm fireplace.

Over at the Monique Meloche Gallery booth, Jamaican artist Ebony G. Patterson showed portraits of anonymous child victims of gun violence on a decorative, polka-dotted wall that is strung with Mardi Gras beads and littered with kids toys, suggesting a playfulness these kids never got to cherish and enjoy for themselves.

At Spinello Projects in Miami’s Little Haiti district, Israeli artist Naama Tsabar did a performance entitled Transitions #3 where she and a group of musicians played pieces of felt on the wall which were attached to punctured with bow-like strings that could be plucked. They were connected to wall-bound microphones.

The Erotic Art Museum is featuring a group exhibition that celebrates the various shades of masculinity. Organized by the Kinsey Collection, the world’s biggest archive of erotic art, “Protected Beauty” features black-and-white photo works by Robert Mapplethorpe, which expresses erotic love beyond the boundaries of gender and race—even though these works were made in the 1980s, they seem timeless.

Hilary Harnischfeger showed at Rachel Uffner’s booth at NADA Miami Beach, a thoughtful presentation of paper-based works in various hues of pastels. And early on Sunday evening, the Los Angeles-based performance artist Rachel Mason, who goes by the stage name of Future Clown, took the stage on NADA’s poolside in North Beach to wail out songs about love and heartbreak. It was the perfect ending to a week in palm tree paradise, which most of us didn’t want to leave. 

Rolls Royce Ghost

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