In its fourth edition, the Independent Art Fair included over 40 national and international galleries in the former Dia building in Chelsea, Manhattan. A breath of fresh air from the Ikea-feeling of the Armory Show, this boothless satellite fair was concurrent also with Volta, Scope and Moving Image.
Gillian Wearing displays a haunting, gold-eyed and silver-skinned mask of her face as a central piece to a giant necklace. Molded from her own features, she reduces her face to a pricey accessary. The impracticality of this functional idea suggests more of a monument, or something ceremonial.
In similar suspension, the conceptual installation artist Guillaume Leblon omits the body of hanging legs on a ladder. The piece is cubed by a structural frame with only one paper or cloth wall and a wooden floor. Beside the piece is a discarded rag, seeming to have wiped away the character as if it were chalk on a black board. It’s unclear where the ladder would lead, or what is happening in Guillamue’s erasure of the body. The character seems straddled between two places, embodying something both solid and immaterial, like the largely hollow installation around it.
Nicole Wermers’ installment of dishes shows a row of kitchenware crammed into drying racks, each collection exploding from the seams, impossibly held in place. Nicole leaves these ceramic, crystal, glass and plastic objects out to dry, seeming to reference each piece as small, disposable icons of domesticity.
Having a history in abstract collage, here she uses object appropriation and the readymade to reduce kitchenware into peculiar specimens. Each sculpture gives the viewer a sense of uncertainty, seeming to balance gravity with evident disaster.
And last but never least, Peres Projects served up a homerun with artists Brent Wadden, David Ostrowski, and the fabulously crude Mark Flood.
Brent’s black and white woven paintings depart from his more colorful oil work, and reminds me of wildlife, free but vulnerable, seized from its herd. The piece moves in ambiguous direction and seems to strike the confines of the canvas like electric currents, or even sound waves.
David Ostrowski’s painting is informal, gestural and somehow instinctive. The shapes are boneless and reductive, and David seems more invested in the materiality and of his work rather than depicting sensical shapes. His work directly employs the audience to engage with ephemerality of the pallet and to conceptually complete what David leaves absent.
And who could forget the rudimentary but brilliant work of Mark Flood. His new work builds from social media and thoughtless production, with his “Uploading, Please Wait”, “Click and Redeem”, Like Us, Add Us, Follow Us”, and his “Another Painting” series.
The most shamelessly seductive of this year’s work is his “Mom Died”, “Dad Died” pieces. They read less as headlines as they do detached and matter-of-fact text messages, with the bold, blank stencils on a splattered background looking like colorless crime scenes.
Mark’s anarchic humor feels off-the-cuff, sincere and necessary in an art world that takes itself too seriously.
Contributed by Dean Dempsey.