December 4, 2016 – Miami Beach, FL
by Jennifer Carrera Turner
Another incredible year at one of the finest Art Shows in the world and the most premier Art Show of the Americas, Art Basel Miami Beach now finished it’s 15th season. In five days the show had admitted 77,000 visitors consisting of high-end private collectors, directors, curators, trustees and patrons from the most influential international museums and institutions.
It was reported that the participating galleries received abundant sales on all market levels. The Lead Partner of Miami Beach Art Basel is UBS and participating were 269 exclusive galleries coming from 29 countries which provided an incredible array of works. The extensive gamut included that of Modern and Contemporary masterpiece paintings, sculptures, elaborate installations, multi-media, film and photography from both established and emerging artists.
Art Basel Miami Beach is divided into specific sectors which organizes galleries into groups or sections. In one of these sectors named Survey which was developed three years ago (contains art created prior to year 2000), consisted of 14 galleries of which 4 were exhibiting for the very first time.
The Box, a gallery located in Los Angeles was one of the four first time exhibitors. The Box presented works by artist Barbara T. Smith (b. 1931), now in her eighties has been producing work for over 40 years. Smith, originally from Pasadena, CA but now residing in LA works in mediums such as sculptural installations, painting and performance. She is a dedicated feminist whose work experiments with “themes of the body, food, female desire, heterosexual relationships, sexuality, religion, transformation of the spirit, love and mortality”.
The project created by Smith shown in The Box’s space focused on her sculptural resin objects and a film that was shot on 16mm, entitled Light Watch which is a one time-lapse shot of an enormous single resin ‘blade’ which is reminiscent of a thin obelisk type shape protruding from a large body of water.
The resin “blade” used in the film had originally been part of the late 1960’s sculptural installation titled Field Piece. It was a monumental work representing Smith’s vision of a “never-ending field of grass symbolizing personal freedom”. It consisted of several 15-foot tall hollow blades made of translucent resin. Along a white shelf in the booth on the wall were the vintage black & white photographs of the original installation showing the blades clustered together.
During the 1970’s through the 1990’s, Smith continued to focus on encasing different materials and objects within the resin which is a delicate toxic material to work with during the process of creation. Her work has been exhibited and collected by major museums such as the J. Paul Getty Museum, Hammer Museum, MOCA, LACMA, Art Institute of Chicago and was booth winner of the Frieze Stand Prize, in London, UK (2013). She is a pioneer of the use of mixed media and of using uncommon materials at a time when it was not relatively usual.
Another gallery in the Survey sector, espaivisor, Valencia, Spain presented the photography work of Graciela Carnevale (b.1942) of Argentina, titled ‘El encierro’ (1968) which is an important work of sociopolitical art in Latin America from the late 1960’s.
This work is a composition of 48 photographs which is the documented result of a large group of people who arrived by invitations to a “gallery reopening” event distributed by the artist’s husband, Carlos Militello. After the arrival of the guests, the gallery Ciclo de Art Experimental in Melipan was then locked unbeknownst to the visitors inside and the idea was that they were no longer the spectators but were the actual “unaware participants” in an experimental confinement in which the actions were continuously photographed. Instead of the people becoming violent, they patiently waited, however a passerby on the exterior actually broke the glass to let the guests escape.
A member of the Grupo de Arte de Vanguardia who was present, considered this to be a destructive act to the artist’s experiment thus in turn resulted in violence when trying to stop the people from leaving. This attracted the attention of a police intervention and then the eventual permanent closing of the Ciclo de Arte Experimental.
This photographic exhibit invites the viewer to recreate the events as you follow the photos along the walls. El encierro (Confinement) has been on exhibit in countless international shows, including Documenta XII, Walker Art Center, MoMA PS1 and Foundation Cartier pour l’art contemporain in Paris.
Incredible works from Southeast Asia and other regions of the world were presented by STPI Gallery, Singapore. Works in this gallery booth included Sam Durant (USA), Shirazeh Houshiary (UK), Jane Lee (Singapore), Shinro Ohtake (Japan), Do Ho Suh (South Korea/UK) and Entang Wiharso (Indonesia). This is the gallery’s third presentation at Art Basel Miami and were taken from the artist’s residencies at STPI. The media used consists of printmaking, lithography, etching, screen printing, and thread drawings on handmade papers.
Captivating is the bright neon yellow works of Shinro Ohtake which references the “yellowcake” or uranium release from the Fukushima Nuclear Powerplant disaster. The powerplant destruction was the result of the Great East Japan earthquake on March 11, 2011. “The works act as recordings of radioactive contamination and can be seen as a response to concerns it raised around nuclear energy, threats from nature, considerations of the earth and the universe, and relations between families and homes affected by the disaster.” – STPI Singapore. The two works titled Yellow Sight 1 and 7 (2015) are of Ohtake’s signature style which includes imagery from the artist’s everyday life.
The amazing floating-in-air suspended installation within the Galerie Thomas Schulte, Berlin, Germany booth was the creation of Iñigo Manglano-Ovalle. Born in Madrid, Spain (b.1961) currently lives and works in Chicago, USA, also teaches at the city’s famous School of Art and Design. The sculpture which reminds me of a huge liquid mass of mercury is absolutely breathtaking and is one of his Cloud Prototypes. These clouds are created of fiberglass and covered seamlessly in titatium alloy foil. “The shapes of the clouds are actually based on the data that is recorded by the Department of Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Illinois.”
Manglano-Ovalle’s work has been shown regularly in over 200 international solo and also group exhibitions. These include but not limited to Documenta 12, the Sao Paulo Biennale, the Venice Biennale of Architecture, as well as Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Guggenheim, New York and Bilbao, the Whitney Museum, New York, the Mass MoCA and numerous European venues, including the incredible Reina Sofia in Madrid, the Stedelijk Museum in Gent, and Haus Lange/Haus Esters in Krefeld.
These are just a few of the fascinating works of art and artists that I had the pleasure of learning about at my visit to Art Basel Miami Beach this past weekend.
The scale of this show is so grandiose you actually need to spend the extent of the days offered to take in all of the amazing surroundings, talent and passion within the complex both indoors and outdoors.
It is obvious why it continues to have such a draw to collectors, prestigious galleries and those who appreciate fine art from around the globe. When you take the time to learn how, why and realize the intensity behind these works of art can you truly appreciate it.
More photos from Art Basel Miami Beach 2016: