The original Art Basel draws the art world’s denizens each summer to its namesake, a historic Swiss city straddling the Rhine. Its 48th edition, kicking off next week, comes during a particularly exciting period for cosmopolitan art lovers: Documenta 14 is taking place in Kassel, Germany, and Athens, Greece, and the Venice Biennale runs through the summer. Into this fray come 291 of the world’s top galleries from 35 countries, with works on display from over 4,000 artists. Seventeen of those galleries are exhibiting at Art Basel in Basel for the first time. Here are 12 to watch.
ON VIEW: Statements, Booth N3
WORKS BY: Oscar Enberg
After many years participating in Liste, Hopkinson Mossman makes its debut at Art Basel in Basel with Berlin-based artist Oscar Enberg, whose presentation in the Statements sector will feature a film and sculpture examining the Australian opal-mining town of Coober Pedy.
“Enberg is working in the exploitative tradition of visitors to the town—a town shaped by prospectors, colonizers, and the uneasy assimilation of non-native cultures and economic interests,” says gallery director Danae Mossman.
The presentation is in step with the Auckland, New Zealand-based gallery’s mission of inviting international dialogue into its home country, while simultaneously promoting prominent contemporary artists from New Zealand and Australia.
“New Zealanders are very engaged, and very outward-looking,” says Mossman. “You have to be—we are a small island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.”
The gallery is a favorite of Melbourne-based curator and scholar Jan Bryant, who says one of the gallery’s strengths is combining its artists “in unpredictable ways.”
“There are always new effects to be found, and in turn their artists come to you in new ways, no matter how familiar you thought you were with them,” Bryant says.
Jenkins Johnson Gallery
LOCATION: San Francisco
ON VIEW: Feature, Booth J2
WORKS BY: Gordon Parks, Mohua Modisakeng, Carlos Javier Ortiz
In its 20-plus-year existence, San Francisco gallery Jenkins Johnson has gathered an impressive roster of mid-career artists including Julian Opieand Lalla Essaydi, while promoting the careers of emerging artists such as Sadie Barnette, Omar Victor Diop, Annie Kevans, and Mohau Modisakeng, who is representing South Africa in the current edition of the Venice Biennale.
Owner Karen Jenkins-Johnson is using her Art Basel in Basel debut to present three artists whose social critiques on issues such as violence, marginalized communities, and civil rights feel especially topical right now.
Her booth within Art Basel in Basel’s Feature section will exhibit photographs of the Civil Rights movement by the polymath Gordon Parks, including I AM YOU—a portfolio of 12 little-known works.
“The current struggles in the U.S. and throughout the world for racial equality, freedom of religion, open immigration, women’s rights, and LGBTQ equality echo the activism portrayed in Parks’s photographs,” Jenkins-Johnson says.
As part of Art Basel in Basel’s Film section, the gallery will additionally present Modisakeng’s To Move Mountains (2015), which Jenkins-Johnson calls “a meditation on violence, directly addressing the brutality directed at the black labor force in South Africa,” and We All We Got (2014), by 2016 Guggenheim Fellow Carlos Javier Ortiz, which portrays individuals affected by gun violence.
ON VIEW: Statements, Booth N12
WORKS BY: Guan Xiao, Wu Tsang
Antenna Space founder Simon Wang says his initial mission was simply “to show my friends,” artists from China and elsewhere including Yu Honglei, Li Ming, Nadim Abbas, Xu Qu, and Guan Xiao. The gallery was launched in 2013 and is based in M50, the Shanghai contemporary arts district sited in a formerly industrial neighborhood.
Wang, who has shown at Art Basel in Hong Kong since 2013, will present two of the gallery’s artists for his first appearance at Art Basel in Basel. Guan’s newest work, Air Freshener, Spray, is an ecosystem with a light-box background and materials including artificial plants, projector machines and vehicle exhaust pipes. It builds on earlier works Sunset and Sunrise, which Wang describes as “atmospheric situations created for stimulating synthetic feelings.”
In the Parcours section of works presented around the city of Basel in public spaces, artist Wu Tsang will produce a performance piece, The Secret Life of Things is Open, an installation in the exclusive private Club de Bâle of films, sound and text from her collaboration with the theorist and poet Fred Moten that will become a portal to performances happening throughout the week and on Saturday evening for Parcours Night. Her appearance at Art Basel in Basel anticipates her September solo exhibition at Antenna Space.
ON VIEW: Statements, Booth N13
WORKS BY: Maha Maamoun
Gypsum Gallery, which operates out of a converted 1920s-era apartment in Cairo’s Garden City neighborhood, was launched in 2013 by curator and gallery director Aleya Hamza to bring the region’s cutting-edge work into the commercial realm.
Hamza, who trained at London’s Goldsmith College, has been affiliated with several other Cairo art institutions, but saw room for a for-profit gallery that would help foster “the progressive and investigative art practices that in the region of the Middle East had been associated with the non-profits,” she says.
The work by Cairo-based artist Maha Maamoun that Hamza will present at Art Basel in Basel’s Statements sector is emblematic of her program, which she says is “built on an in-depth engagement with sociopolitical, cultural, and formal questions.”
Called The Subduer, Maamoun’s project stems from a trip to one of the many public notary offices in Egypt. “In these offices, citizens, state functionaries and legal and bureaucratic processes strain on a daily basis to continue functioning with and against each other,” Hamza explains. “In the midst of these tense relationships, or maybe because of them, prayers abound.”
Using her cellphone, Maamoun secretly recorded images of these prayers found in various notary offices, written on “a slew of soiled and aging sheets of paper” and “informally pinned or taped on the walls,” in Hamza’s words. The resulting photographic installation and accompanying publication portrays Maamoun’s “personal story slamming against the bureaucratic machine and its idiosyncrasies,” while also representing “a collective fascination with religious representations,” Hamza says.
LOCATION: New York City
ON VIEW: Statements, Booth N14
WORKS BY: Sam Anderson
Chapter NY began in 2013 as a weekend-only project space on the Lower East Side, in a 175-square-foot space smaller than many American closets. In fall 2016, the gallery moved to a larger location in the same neighborhood, but maintained its focus on “intimate exhibitions and projects as a means to understand the diverse development of artistic practice,” according to director Nicole Russo.
Lumi Tan, a curator at The Kitchen, says the gallery’s newer space has allowed its ambitious programming to unfurl, “while maintaining an intimate scale.”
That program includes artists such as Mira Dancy, Willa Nasatir, and Adam Gordon. But Russo also makes a point to experiment with artists she doesn’t directly represent, giving the space over to Keltie Ferris for her “Body Prints” paintings, or to Anicka Yi, who used the gallery to record the first episode of her “Lonely Samurai” podcast series.
For her booth in Art Basel in Basel’s Statements section, Russo will present a new work by Sam Anderson, Antarctica (2017). An installation of clay figures on a series of semicircular risers, it “draws both familiar and peripheral types to center, forming a psychological excavation of identity and role-playing,” says Russo.
Anderson, who was, fittingly, also the first artist Russo showed at Chapter NY, currently has a solo exhibition at New York’s SculptureCenter and will open a solo show at the Kölnischer Kunstverein in Cologne, Germany, at the end of June.
ON VIEW: Feature, Booth J1
WORKS BY: Goran Trbuljak, Paolo Icaro
This Bologna-based gallery was founded in 2010 with a focus on Conceptual and Minimalist artists, mostly from the 1960s and 1970s, whose work co-founders Alessandro Pasotti and Fabrizio Padovani felt was underappreciated.
“There are artists who have preferred to work in seclusion, far from the spotlight, or have been forced to do so because their work was not understood,” says Padovani, noting that the current environment allows for greater recontextualization of these artists’ practices.
That mission is particularly important in an era of “amnesia,” says Hans Ulrich Obrist, artistic director of London’s Serpentine Galleries. By showing pioneering artists such as Irma Blank, Paolo Icaro, and Franco Vaccari “in a sustained and profound way,” he says, the gallery achieves “what Eric Hobsbawm called ‘an urgent protest against forgetting.’”
In Art Basel in Basel’s Feature section, P420 will present Croatian artist Goran Trbuljak’s first four solo shows, which ran between 1971 to 1981. The first show had no actual work in it, with Trbuljak merely writing on the poster for the exhibition, “I don’t want to show anything new and original.”
“From the start of his career, Trbuljak has been averse to the production or even the conception of any work of art, focusing exclusively on the mechanisms of the art system, the dynamics through which an artist can gain a reputation,” says Pasotti.
The gallery is also presenting a re-enactment of Trbuljak’s 1977 show at Venice’s Galleria del Cavallino in Art Basel Unlimited, a show that investigated the power relations between artists and their galleries, as well as Turinese artist Icaro’s Foresta metallica, a large-scale installation created in 1967 in his SoHo studio and exhibited here publicly for the first time.
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