In advance of traveling to London art fairs & galleries last week, I saw an overwhelming range of content on social channels. Like most people, I’ve been attempting to digest sad and fearful news. Thanks to my algorithm, I’ve also seen many memes mocking the art world and its ability to live in an alternate reality.
So I wanted to broach this Takeaway not with endorsement of this perceived ignorance but an understanding of why beauty in art is important during troubling times. I’ve bookmarked a few artists & galleries that balance this idea of escapism and empathy.
Azadeh Elmizadeh @ Franz Kaka
I’m a huge admirer of Azadeh’s work and was excited to see Canadian representation at Frieze. These oil works on linen are visually breathtaking and the range in scale showcases the artist’s skill with the materials. Her work considers the complexities of person and place. Personal history and mythology become translucent layers on the canvas presenting a jumping off point for the viewer but also allowing space to meditate over material and meaning.
Marina Rheingantz @ White Cube
I gravitated towards this show because of its expansiveness and the artist’s use of the dense but fleeting application of paint. Each work is an unknown landscape, where the viewer can create their own narrative within it. The Brazilian artist gives a sense of aerial perspective and wasteland but doesn’t bind you to the idea. Yet as her works become increasingly more abstract you feel this sense of loss with the natural world.
Nicholas Pope and Tyra Tingleff @ The Sunday Painter
I loved seeing these two artists from Sunday Painter’s roster act as visual playmates and offer some contrast & conversation within the booth. Nicholas Pope’s melancholy ceramic family is surrounded by Tingleff’s bright, restless super large-scale paintings. They take you into a world unknown and evoke feelings of solitude as well as restlessness. The verticality of each series mirrors the viewer as they walk around. Creating doorways into an alternate reality. Here, you may enter the artist’s frame of mind and put yourself in someone else’s shoes.
Kentaro Kawabata @ High Art Paris
Amongst the plethora of large-scale works, there were Kentaro’s experimental and flourishing ceramics. The biomorphic forms seemed to have just sprouted from the fair’s floors, wondering how they themselves got there. What feels like chance is a dedicated practice and balance of process and material. The cycle of the ceramic process almost mimicking that of our delicate environment and the way it regenerates itself.
So why did I gravitate towards these artists and galleries? Why did I choose escapism (artscapism) as a topic amid so many other things happening in the world? Each artist and gallery’s curatorial pursuits do not build a box around what great art most looks like. What it must include (subversive subtext or political asterisks ) or exclude (beauty or collectibility). They create visceral responses through a range of materials, make space for the complexity of the human experience and…. allow the viewer to escape and hopefully reflect. I recently read the below in an editorial art piece, so I now leave it with you:
A work of art is one means of resetting the boundaries that separate us. The question is: how are we changed by the experience of another’s world?