CONTEXT New York
The struggle with art fairs is two fold – how do you differentiate yourself from the competition in a meaningful way and how do you present yourself as more than a giant tent sale. CONTEXT Art Fair located at Pier 94 is the sister fair of CONTEXT Art Miami. They tick off a lot of the right boxes. There’s sponsored art works in the hall including a large politically themed work at the entrance by Jason Myers featuring 99 abstracted portraits representing the 99% of the population who’s concerns are faceless to the 1% controlling interest of the country – an interesting statement for an art fair – proceeds going to assorted charitable foundations. They have celebrity artwork in the expressionist paintings of Jason Newsted, formerly of Metallica. I’m not sure what Munch would have thought of …And Justice for All but there’s a pretty good chance he’d want the bass remixed. CONTEXT has also scheduled a series of panel conversations on a variety of topics. I caught the end of one titled Women Disrupting the Art World which interestingly turned to a discussion on technology in art.
It’s impossible to walk through an art fair or museum – or anywhere really – and not be constantly reminded of the pervasiveness of social media. One of the more popular booths at the show is Galeria Casa Cuadrada from Bogota whose booth is Instagram-ready. They prominently feature work by the sculptor Fidia Falaschetti who created an installation of security cameras repainted with logos of social media platforms. He also has a series of reconfigured cartoon characters in chrome and gold plating that screamed for attention. The back wall of the booth features large, vibrantly colored paintings by Rafa Macarron of whimsical characters in a fantastic landscape.
Gibbons&Nicholas, an Irish art concern, is showing a series of paintings by Marty Kelly that seem to depict a type of twilight existence – or a slightly menacing dream state. They also have a corner of paintings by Peter Burns who’s work has a medieval quality of myth telling, they’re charmingly painted with a long low note of apocalyptic despair.
Richard Koh Fine Art of Singapore is showing a pair of sculptures by Anne Samat titled “Huntsman.” These figures are made of common materials like rakes, washers, shovels, string and beads constructed to form beautifully abstracted symmetrical forms that have a hypnotic quality of icons or shrines.
In keeping with the theme of iconography, Jaeckel Gallery is showing a large two-paneled painting by Danny Rolph featuring images of Lou Reed and David Bowie. The work is anything but elegaic though, and the musician’s portraits are practically hidden in the swirl of color and texture. Rolph paints on semi-translucent panels used in construction. The paint is brightly colored and features hard-edged patterns contrasted by more brushy paint and collaged elements. He stacks the panels and makes use of the translucency to give added depth to the work.
Plenty to see – they make full use of the cavernous space of the pier. Given that this is only the second year of CONTEXT in New York it will be interesting to see how the fair develops in the future.