London Descends On Art Basel The Mecca of Contemporary Art

Here we go again: Basel! The Mecca of Contemporary Art where the pilgrims of the Art world meet religiously every year.

I love going to Basel. It feels like going to a huge family reunion where you see old friends and meet new ones…carefully avoiding the old grumpy aunties… My preview days were intense and despite the dreadful weather I enjoyed it. Joking and laughing with Wim Delvoye when he talks about his Iranian ventures, listening to Isaac Julien whispering about his video installation Stones Against Diamonds at Kirche Elisabethen, sharing “best of” with friends, the dinners and the parties, the Art: that’s the beauty of Basel.

This year however, I was disappointed by Unlimited, usually my favourite part of the fair. I did not get the “Wow” effect. Except for Robert Irwin’s amazing installation, Black 3 (2008) a series of translucent voile panels that blot out the world, layer by layer, I was frustrated with 2015 Unlimited.

But the main fair was a feast.

Image: Louise Bourgeois

I was left in awe by Louise Bourgeois’s Fountain couple at the Karsten Greve Gallery. I never heard of Bourgeois’s Fountain and could not have imagined a fountain as part of her body of works… There is something utterly poetic, vulnerable and zen in the water flowing through the aluminium structure, like an endless crying sculpture.

Image: Anish Kapoor

Anish Kapoor is not only in Versailles. He was strolling the aisles of the fair and could be spotted at the booth of his galleries Kudje, Kamel Manner, Lisson… I saw my favorite Kapoor at Marlborough Fine Art’s booth – “Blood cinema” (2000) – quite an unusual piece with a mesmerising red.

Roger Hiorns’ canvas at Luhring Augustine was a reminiscence of his unforgettable installation with Archangel and the Jerwood Charitable Foundation in London: “Seizure” (2008). Using 75,000 litres of liquid copper sulphate, he transformed an empty council flat in Southwark, into a sparkling blue environment metamorphosing the abandoned sinister dwelling into a fairy tale grotto.

Image: Robert Motherwell

Bernard Jacobson is celebrating with brio Motherwell’s 100th birthday with exceptional pieces. My favourite work is Mexican window (1974) with its vibrant yellow, energetic strokes and pure lines.

I was happy to see that Ha Chonghyun, Blum and Poe gallery, gets the international attention he deserves at last. When I met him in Seoul last year I was so impressed by him. This truly Korean master has been exploring the materiality of paint for the past few decades. He is one of the leading figures of Tansaekhwa, known as the Korean Monochrome Movement (the most important and successful artistic movements of 20th-century Korea).

Image: Rudolf Stingler

Sadie Cole was one of my favourite booths with the best Rudolf Stingler I have ever seen and the colourful and playful Ugo Rondine sculptures.

Image: Blinkey Palermo

There is so much to see in Basel I needed more eyes… Adrian Sutton from Blain Southern shared with me his highlights: A beautiful Blinkey Palermo from 1969 at David Zwirner, Zeno X Gallery with The Horse by Michael Borremans and Latifa Echakhch’s painting There’s tears/ This partial explanation could point to the existence of “exotic physics” at Kamel Mennour. “Different nationalities, perspectives, united under the Basel umbrella”, as Adrian says.

And now back to London … Exhausted! 

Words/Photos Virginie Syn © Artlyst 2015 Top Photo: ISAAC JULIEN, STONE AGAINST DIAMONDS, 2015 courtesy of Rolls Royce Motor Cars at Kirche Elisabethen

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