With this series, Hugo Zorn invites art world insiders to review and reminisce on their experiences at and feelings towards art fairs. Aiming to give some impressions from afar, each review, in its individual form, offers a subjective insight into the head of an experienced visitor:
Imagine you are a paper towel enthusiast. You go to a trade fair and see that colorful bulls eye wrapped around a fresh roll of Bounty™. Even if you want some of the Quicker Picker Upper™ in your home, you didn’t travel far and wide to find out about it. The ground floor of FIAC was a bit like this, having the Procter & Gamble of art products on display.
There was Guston at Hauser and Wirth, Smith at Massimo de Carlo, and Tillmans at Buchholz. See exhibit A, B and C, your honor.
Despite the great works, all this star power wrapped in commercialism had me very bored. Before we head upstairs to a fresher more exciting part of the fair, I need to throw an honorable mention to Galerie Barbara Weiss. The booth featured a fresh crop of young artists whose excellent works challenge the hegemony of established value and mostly old, white men. I particularly loved Rebecca Morris’s work. Her spare treatment of the face of the canvas while building a sculptural frame with paint on the edges fulfilled a hankering for plasticity without pandering to it. The booth also had notable works from Frieda Toranzo Jeager and Lewis Hammond on display.
I was able to find more previously unknown pleasures in the balcony section pf the Grand Palais (a disclaimer, what is unknown to me might be as common as a Joy Division t-shirt to others)
Tanya Merrill’s paintings, presented at Half Gallery, look as if she was able to borrow the best parts from a 19th century French vermouth poster juxtaposed with the interior of a modern movie theater. The flirtation with illustration makes me cringe but it never crosses the line into verboten territory. To cringe is good, to hurl is not.
Down the corridor, Simone Subal presented a duo of sculptures by Cameron Claybourne. Soft sculptures are ‘dangerous’ because they can so often turn into large plush toys for collectors with bad taste. They are somehow easier for the public to digest than ‘hard’ sculptures, maybe because they make people think of their pillow at home. Claybourne delves into this murky territory and delivers us something between a car seat and a barnacle. Quite pleasantly it succeeds to avoid the aforementioned traps while acknowledging them at the same time.
Warsaw’s Dawid Radziszewski presented some nice paintings from Louisa Gagliardi, and I think this weekend in Paris will be the last moment in contemporary art where animals exposing themselves on a canvas will be cool. I was happy to see it and now I’m happy to see it die.
Lastly, Chris Sharp and Lulu’s “wall-as-booth” packed a lot of power. Sharp’s game plan in the D.F. has always been to land a big punch in a small space – a philosophy he brought with him to Paris.
Tom Allen’s flowers are modest in size but worked into a web of tension. The pallet ranges from Jolly Rancher to Blacklight posters and could even draw a blind man’s eyes to them. Pas mal FIAC! I’m off for baguette and tartare, au revoir!