Highlights from Art Platform L.A. 2012
The two-year-old international art fair Art Platform was held September 28-30, 2012 in Santa Monica, California.
That also happened to be the weekend when the biggest freeway of Los Angeles was entirely shut down for 2 days of massive construction work. I avoided the traffic nightmare by visiting on Friday before the shutdown. It surely had some negative impact on attendance Saturday and Sunday, but I don’t know how bad. My heart goes out to the galleries, many from very far away (Tokyo, Hong Kong, Miami and Amsterdam to name a few), who were taken entirely by surprise at this turn of events. I hope they did OK and sold enough art to at least pay their expenses.
It was pretty quiet Friday morning (exactly how I like it):
I didn’t know what to expect from this contemporary art show. I’m not a fan of all contemporary art, indeed I find much of it sophomoric and ugly. Happily I saw a lot to like at this one.
I took too many photos to show you everything I liked. I’ll just show you some highlights to whet your appetite. Consider this the tip of the iceberg.
One of the first booths I visited was Now Contemporary from Miami, where the entire booth was devoted to the work of a single artist: Federico Uribe. I loved his playful animals made from recycled books, bike tires, sneakers and pencils.
A wall of zebras made from recycled bike tires and sneakers. Detail below:
Uribe’s massive giraffe made from colored pencils hung cantilevered over the rest of the booth and was, for me, the star of the show. I’ll admit I did wonder about the structural integrity of the display wall it was hung from.
The giraffe’s brown spots are brown pencils, the white lines are white pencils. Its mane is a bunch of sharpened pencils standing straight up. Clever, eh? Every home should have one.
Speaking of pencils as a sculptural medium, artist Lionel Bawden also uses pencils. He glues colored pencils together into solid blocks and then carves beautifully sinuous shapes from them:
Lionel Bawden, the amorphous ones (the spirit of repetition), 2011, white Staedtler pencils, epoxy and incralac, 25 x 11 x 28 inches. Shown by Gallery Wendi Norris, San Francisco. The “pedestal” is a simple stack of plain white paper. If you buy the sculpture you get the paper too. (I had to ask.)
Wandering about, I noticed several hallway displays of large hard-edged paintings. They seemed very familiar. I quickly realized these were pieces by Karl Benjamin, who passed away just this year.
At first I was moved by the displays honoring the recently deceased artist. But then I wondered: are these galleries just looking to cash in now that the artist is gone? One of those thoughts was unworthy, but I’m not sure which.
There were other convergences to be seen. It’s always fun to pick out the coincidences and muse on whether they represent trends or mere statistical flukes.
One trend I spotted was round works. The “tondo” (a fancy term for a round painting) was much in evidence at this show, in various media. Here are a few examples that I particularly liked:
This intriguing work by Hadieh Shafie was shown by the Leila Heller Gallery from New York. It’s 3 feet across. The colored bits are tight coils of paper, colored on the edge and written lengthwise with arabic script that says, simply, “love.” How delightful! Here’s a detail from the side:
Close to my own heart, artist Michelle Grabner paints small dots in neat rows and tight spirals. A small nonprofit exhibit space from the Netherlands, PS (Amsterdam), had a single painting of hers on display:
The painting was about 2 feet across. Detail below:
The backdrop behind this painting was more dots, in bright pink, plastered over the entire booth. Dots on dots – a dizzying effect!
The luscious material is cast silicone, colored and hand-cast by the artist. The shapes are words. In this piece, the words all say “white” in 9 different languages.
One more circle painting:
This is Lament/A Thousand Tear Drops For You, 36×28 inches, 2009, by Sungyee Kim, shown by the Mindy Solomon Gallery of St. Petersburg, Florida. All it said was “mixed media,” but I wouldn’t be surprised if there was some encaustic involved. I love the translucent depth you get with encaustic.
Speaking of depth, I was attracted to a good many pieces with depth or layers. Even just a hint of depth is enough to quicken my pulse. Why is that?
Here are some of my favorites:
That’s enough! If you need to see more, you’ll just have to come to the show next year. See you there!
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