So, after an evening spent in Mulhouse, as that is only reasonable place to stay within a half an hour radius of Basel, it actually wasn’t so bad, a quick train ride and viola. There was an incident involving coffee being spilt in the back seat of a taxi to the train station that created a little bit of local upset, less said about that the better.
First stop in the morning was to Volta, located back at their original location near to the train station. Some exhibitors had kept to the original premise of doing solo presentations whilst others selected to show group work.
There were only a few people wandering the aisles and as James and I were smartly dressed (the art uniform of blue jackets and jeans) we are getting attention from dealers who seemed a little bit in need of sales. I guess that once the hordes have go through the main fair and the major money has already been spent and departed, these smaller fairs struggle to break even, I would imagine after the costs of the booth, transportation, flights, accommodation etc.
The work on show at Volta is actually very impressive in the most part and some of it wouldn’t be out of place at the main fair. So, what stood out? Well Ethan Cohen was showing raw and primitive canvases by Aboudia (who also shows with Jack Bell), Ethan was on sales overdrive and I enjoyed him explaining the work in detail. He also had witty and expressive work by Greg Haberny on show.
Beers Contemporary had some fantastic large paintings by Andrew Salagado on display and Charlie Smith had some great John Stark pieces as well as a stunning Emma Bennett. (above)
Beta Pictoris/Maus Contemporary presented the work of Iranian/US artist Taravat Talepasand, who tackled race, gender and cultural taboos.
The Flat – Massimo Carasi had a piece by Leonardo Ulian, who uses patterns, microchips and circuits of electronic devices to make a web resembling Tibetan mandalas or fractal forms. All very clever and well made.
Finally, I very much liked the craft and embroidery of the Israeli artist – Batia Shani, presented by Tamar Dresdner Art Projects. Batia’s installation of children’s dresses, incorporating army uniforms and text based embroidery effectively deals with some the fears and anxiety of the political situation in the Middle East. This display was very effective and emotionally charged, one of best things on show.
James and I left Volta, hungry and a little flat, the dealers all seemed to looking out for that one buyer that could make all the difference.
Next stop Liste, which as ever has a degree show feel. The stand out booths were Jeanine Hofland from Amsterdam who were showing Hannah Perry (I’m a big fan of her work and she is a rising star having been shown at Saatchi and Zabludowicz), one piece had two silver vinyl sheets being vibrated from behind by speakers, also installed were vibrating car seats for the video piece of music mash ups, party scenes, spoken word and text. The work has an energy and relevant immediacy, which is undeniably strong.
I also liked the work by Irma Alvalrez-Laviada showing with Galeria Augustina Ferreyra. Irma’s work is concerned with the materiality of painting and the vacancy of the studio once the work leaves the space. The painted bubble wrap sheets are wonderful abstractions in themselves and I like the concept of absence in creation.
Arcadia Missa had an interesting presentation by Ann Hirsch dealing with the Instagram cultural phenomenon, using a made up personae and documenting physical and social changes over a period of time.
Jonathan Viner had a wonderful group of abstracted paintings by Amir Nikravan, bold and colourful with textured patterns. I also liked the work by Dan Shaw-Town showing with Maisterrva Valbuena out of Madrid.
I should also like to mention Limoncello as having as ever a very strong booth and Ancient and Modern, who was showing gestural abstractions. A special mention to a little Japanese gallery Aoyama/Meguro who had an installation involving drips from mounted water bottles into water bottles on the floor, something quite poetic about the whole thing.
Refreshed and re-charged on our daily dose of sausages and coffee we head off to Scope by taxi, which was a bit of an expense but what the hell.
Scope has popped up this year in an industrial area, surrounded by camp sights, caravans and artists communes, I spotted a sign on one hut saying ‘evicted due to commercial art’, which didn’t bode well.
Outside, there were a group of graffiti artists doing a piece on the side of bus and in general there was a street feel to the place. Inside the fair was quite the contrast with slick and at times obvious artwork on show. Once again, I felt the dealers in desperate need of buyers, as the aisles were pretty empty.
Best in show, was totally out of place gallery Omer Tiroche, which for some bizarre reason had Basel quality work on offer, I’m talking serious pieces by big named artists, such as Yayoi Kusama, Joanna Vasconcelos and even a Fontana. I asked the young dealer what he was doing at Scope and he said that he couldn’t get into the main fair, so just to be in Basel was something.
Most of the work here leaves me pretty cold, some of it clever and well crafted though like Angela Glajcar paperwork at Heitsch Gallery and there were some incredibly detailed engraving work on show at Galerie Bhak out of Seoul. Heliumcowboy was showing the hipster craft wood based work by Alex Diamond, a stage name by the artist Jorg Heikhaus. I liked the multi-layered and detailed design to the sculptural woodcuts.
Finally I should mention the vases by Dan Baldwin at Lawrence Alkin, which were great. Triumph Gallery out of Moscow had a stand dedicated the AES&F including photography and video work.
Back to the main fair this time by bus, we wandered around the ground floor and it felt good to be back around the quality stuff for a little while.
Time for dinner, before James headed back to London and me to Mulhouse exhausted.
Today I’m going to the Fondation Beyeler to see the Gauguin show, which I’ve heard good things about.
Words/Photos Ben Austin © Artlyst 2015