Art Radar brings you 6 must-see gallery booths at VOLTA art fair in Basel.
Launched on 12 June 2017, VOLTA 13 in Basel presents 70 galleries from 43 cities around the world, with a focus on solo presentations and dual-artist “dialogues”.
Running until 17 June 2017, concurrent with Art Basel Week, VOLTA13 follows the art fair’s mission of introducing new international positions. This year, 19 of the 70 exhibitors are featuring solo shows of individual artists, while 21 are mounting dual-artist presentations. Art Radar has selected a few highlights to see at Basel’s edition of VOLTA.
1. Tyler Rollins Fine Art — Sopheap Pich (Cambodia)
New York-based gallery Tyler Rollins Fine Art is holding a solo exhibition of Cambodian artist Sopheap Pich (b. 1971), whose new body of works on paper and a floor-standing sculpture are currently on display at the 57th Venice Biennale, “Viva Arte Viva”.
At VOLTA13, the gallery is showing new works on paper from the same series exhibited at the Venice Biennale, which were created by dipping sticks of bamboo in a mixture of earth pigments and gum Arabic, then pressed onto watercolour paper. The works display the tension that exists between the precise linearity of the sticks’ impression, the irregularity of the texture of the bamboo, the variations of the work table’s surface and the different pressures applied by the artist.
In the booth, there also are some new works from Pich’s “Wall Reliefs” series, shown for the fist time at Documenta (13) in 2012. Made of rattan and bamboo grids covered with strips of burlap from rice bags, such works are a reflection of the artist’s increasing interest in abstraction and conceptualisation.
2. Gallery MoMo — Tomoyasu Murata (Japan)
Tokyo’s Gallery MoMo presents a solo booth by Tomoyasu Murata (b. 1974), whose work began with the production of puppet animations inspired by Bunraku, traditional Japanese puppet theatre. Through his oeuvre, Murata strives to express the idea of Mujo – or ‘impermanence’ in English – a very important concept in Japanese culture.
The three videos on show at VOLTA13 tackle the subjects of prayer, chronicling and faith, and present the ‘fluctuations’ in Japan’s socio-cultural landscape after the Great Tohoku Earthquake of 2011. The prologue features Murata’s Okinanami, a traditional Japanese dance used to pray for agricultural prosperity. The first video entitled Okinanami / Forest this flower bloom depicts the Fukushima nuclear plant accident. The second work entitled AMETSUCHI – meaning ‘heaven and earth’ or ‘the universe’ – depicts the Japanese island using Mount Fuji as a motif.
The third video on show sees two twin girls as the main characters. Entitled A branch of Pine Tied up, the work depicts the disaster of the earthquake and tsunami, with the story shifting from before and after the incident. Murata makes reference to the aftermath of the disaster, when local people whose livelihood was destroyed by it are reconsidering their identity as Japanese.
3. Galerie Ora Ora — Peng Wei (China)
Galerie Ora Ora from Hong Kong presents a solo show of work by Beijing-based Peng Wei. The Chinese artist works with the traditional medium of ink. At VOLTA13, her presentation invites the audience to question who they are and what the world expects them to be.
The darkened space of the booth features a “bi-sensory spectacle” that includes art and music. Peng Wei’s illustrations depict in visuals the personal letters from great composers, while their compositions audibly fill the aural space of the booth. The artist thus juxtaposes the private and the public spheres of these individuals, probing into the question of who we are as individuals in our private life and what we are expected to be as public faces.
Peng Wei combines these “diametrical counterpoints”, with a combination of harmony and discord that question the nature of “greatness”, and the dichotomy between perception and reality.
4. C&K Galerie — Said Baalbaki (Germany/Lebanon)
C&K Galerie from Berlin is a first-time exhibitor at VOLTA, and presents a solo by Said Baalbaki, an internationally acclaimed artist of Lebanese origins who works between Germany and Lebanon. Baalbaki lives between occidental and oriental cultures, and his work displays this polarity. The artist grew up during the Lebanese Civil War, and experienced migration and resettlement, as well as nostalgia for his home.
At VOLTA 13, Baalbaki presents the installation Mon(t) Liban, which juxtaposes painting, drawing, print and sculpture. At the centre of the installation is the neon work that reads “Mon(t) Liban”, a play on words in French: the French words “mon” (my) and “mont” (mount) have different meanings but the same pronunciation. The title thus embodies the ambivalence of Baalbaki’s artistic identity, displaying a dichotomy of destruction and escape, and the beauty of home.
The artist plays with mechanisms of perception, as well as notions of the construction of knowledge, truth and authenticity, which are heavily influenced by different cultures, religions and historical events. With the urgency of the current refugee crisis, Baalbaki’s work gains ever more relevance as it reflects on global realities of historical, social and cultural developments.
5. HilgeBrotkunsthalle — Assunta Abdel Azin Mohammed (Egypt/Austria) and Anastasia Khoroshilova (Russia)
Vienna-based HilgerBrotkunsthalle features a dual presentation of Egyptian-Austrian artist Assunta Abdel Azin Mohammed and Russian Anastasia Khoroshilova, with a focus on portraiture.
Mohammed’s works are meticulous large-scale drawings executed in ballpoint pen, which function as “psychograms” of contemporary society. Her subjects all display some particularity, such a turtle pet on a shoulder or a rocker’s style outfit. Her drawings in blue pen on white feature groups or crowds of people depicted as if taking part in some carnival festivity, with skeleton grins or faces, as well as skeletons wearing armours and riding skeletal horses. The artist seems to point at the dark side of contemporary society, and the lunacy within.
On the opposite side of the spectrum is Khoroshilova’s work. Her photographic portraits are of a realistic nature, her subjects seemingly posing in their everyday environments, in familiar attire.
The two artists’ works together display the contradictions of today’s society: on the one hand, the craziness and a quasi-surrealistic absurdity, while on the other, a quiet, common reality that we see everywhere, everyday.
6. YOD Gallery — Hebime, Hidehito Matsubara and Masakazu Fujiwara (Japan)
The idea of ‘motion’ is at the heart of Osaka-based YOD Gallery‘s exhibition of three artists. While Hebime’s and Hidehito Matsubara’s works reference the notion of movement through their artistic process, Masakazu Fujiwara creates kinetic artworks that themselves move.
Hebime uses a chisel to carve the multi-layered acrylic paint surface of his paintings. The artist creates hallucinatory patterns by revealing the various layers of different colours. Matsubara meticulously cuts tiny pieces of painted paper with his fingers and layers them to create abstract images that simulate movement through repetition.
Fujiwara gained knowledge and technique to create kinetic artworks from working as an electrician. His pieces feature simple structures in monochromatic colours, and use the same aesthetic of found, mass-produced objects. Appearing like common everyday things, made of materials such as pharmaceutical capsules, bellow pipes and styrofoam, once in motion, these objects come alive. With movements that imitate living organisms such as insects, these works impact the viewer’s physiological sensibility, and prompt us to reflect on the relationship between humanity and nature.
C. A. Xuan Mai Ardia
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