Dizzying Variety: Highlights from Art Miami and CONTEXT

Upon viewing Peter Anton’s wall-mounted sculptures of chocolate box interiors at Art Miami, provenance of both and Amsterdam’s Gallery Delaive and Palm Beach’s Arcature Fine Art, it’s hard not to see the pieces as somehow representative of the fair overall — offering a variety of patterns and colors, some pristinely lacquered, some partially consumed, at once appetizing and intimidating in their larger-than-life quality. With over 200 exhibitors and 1,875 artists packed into its massive Wynwood tent through Sunday, Art Miami is its largest yet for its 25th edition — the silver year — and indeed, there are plenty of silver works to be had, or at least plenty of shiny ones (see: the face-off between  K. Gretchen Greene’s hole-riddled palimpsests of welded steel at Todd Merrill Studio Contemporary and Norman Mooney’s four-leaf-clover-shaped cascade of violet polished steel at Waterhouse & Dodd).

Bright colors, too, are in no short supply, perhaps most notably in the neon kitsch of New York’s Unix Gallery, which features large-scale sculptures of Ring Pops and birth control pill packets alongside a portrait by Kwangho Shin (above) rendered in thick globs of fluorescent paint. Meanwhile, Paris’s Espace Meyer Zafra lined their back wall with giant slowly-rotating discs filled partway with pure pigment — e.g., “Cercle Cadmium Jaune” (Cadmium Yellow Circle), 2014 — the powder continuously breaking apart and reforming.

Glitz also gives way to a darker side, both in tone and subject matter — for example, John Henry Hammer’s “Sweet Boy,” 2013 (above), which, though a simple portrait of a man with sugar crusting over his face, feels especially and painfully pertinent following the fatal injustices against Michael Brown and Eric Garner. Meanwhile, photography duo Formento + Formento’s eerie “Japan Series” at New York’s Vincent Vallarino Fine Art, made available through Traffic Arts, showcases a young Asian woman in various states of duress, one of which, featuring the nude model with her torso painted in Japanese calligraphy, sported four red dots beside its proclaimed edition of 7, each priced at $11,000.

And of course there are the celebrity works, from Sandro Miller’s buzzed-about John Malkovich portrait series at Chicago’s Catherine Edelman Gallery, in which the actor stands in for famous historical portrait subjects, to the Banksys on display at Amsterdam’s Leslie Smith Gallery and Southampton’s Keszler Gallery. (Note also his “Exit Through the Gift Shop” protege-turned-nemesis Mr. Brainwash in a solo presentation at Cleveland’s Contessa Gallery.) Even the aisles are packed to the brim with installations, like Bob Snead’s “Family Dollar General Tree: Store #002,” 2011–2014, presented by New Orleans’s Arthur Roger Gallery — a hut constructed from the found cardboard of dollar stores into its own satirical convenience shack, complete with faux coupon deals pasted in the windows (“Totino’s has the proud distinction of having a pizza where the crust and the box taste exactly the same, SALE $200”).

And let’s not forget CONTEXT, Art Miami’s sister fair, which hosts its own 78 galleries in an adjacent tent. There’s whimsy there, too, as with Nathan Vincent’s rather literal yarnbombs (that is, grenades rendered in crochet) at Emmanuel Fremin Gallery, or the wall-mounted Lego works by at Toronto’s Olga Korper Gallery, flanked by a “Donnie Darko”-style rabbit sculpture in rusted steel (above). A rainbow of paper airplanes by Blue and Joy pocks the booth of Miami’s The Chill Concept, while across the aisle at the combined booth for Italian gallery duo WHITE ROOM and Liquid art system, Matteo Pugliese’s sculptures of muscular men struggle to free themselves, their bodies half-disappeared into the walls (below). But perhaps CONTEXT’s strongest suit is in the more subdued — a head rendered in charred wood by Aron Demetz at Galleria Doris Gheta or Heitsch Gallery’s exquisite 3-D printed sculptures by Moto Waganari, their spindly forms shot through with light, shadows looming on the white walls behind.

Overall, the wide range on view across both fairs appears to be paying off. Opening night alone brought the purchase of Fernand Léger’s “Cinq Tournesois dans le Paysage,” 1951 (below), for $1.65 million from New York’s Michelle Rosenfeld Gallery, as well as two Cy Twombly photographs — “Lemons, Gaeta,” 2005 and “Miramare – Sunset by the Sea, Gaeta,” 2001 — for $50,000 each by James Barron Art of South Kent, Connecticut and Rome, Italy, among many others.

— Anneliese Cooper (@DawnDavenport)

(Photos: Fairgoers at Art Miami, Courtesy Art Miami; Kwangho Shin’s “Untitled #14P12,” 2014, at Unix Gallery, photo by Anneliese Cooper; Sheldon Scott’s “Sweet Boy,” 2013, at Connersmith, Courtesy Art Miami; Banksy’s “Sphinx,” 2013, at Keszler Gallery, Courtesy Art Miami; John McEwen’s “Rabbit With Ladle,” 2013, at Olga Korper Gallery, Courtesy CONTEXT; sculpture by Matteo Pugliese at WHITE ROOM | Liquid art system, photo by Anneliese Cooper; Fernand Léger’s “Cinq Tournesois dans le Paysage,” 1951, at Michelle Rosenfeld Gallery, Courtesy Art Miami)