Yesterday was Miami Art Basel 2013′s preview, and B/D was there to get the scoop on Basel’s most innovative and interesting works. Here we’ve picked out a few pieces that caught our eye. Hope you enjoy these as much as we did!
Jakes and Dinos Chapman’s diorama fuses sensitive religious themes with mass branding and symbols of the global fast food chain, McDonald’s. The rather crude, and disturbing maquette juxtaposes, or rather, finds parallels between what seems to be violent scenes of apocalypse and crucifixions, and the globalization of American fast food chains. The artwork exudes great hostility; it truly makes for an uncomfortable yet very entertaining, and satisfying viewing. The piece pinpoints and creates controversy, as it look at a global economy superpower through the eyes of uncensored, critical, and dry humor.
Evan Penny’s sculpture was probably one of my top personal highlights from Basel. ‘Female Stretch’ is strange and confusing to look at. The artist accomplishes a flat look out of a three-dimensional sculpture. Besides the bizarre proportions, which I hope you can appreciate through the photos, I can say that Penny’s craftsmanship shines quite brightly through the sculpture’s accuracy when it came to small details. Hair, eyelashes and skin textures are almost impressively realistic looking.
Stevenson, a South African gallery, brings forth the work of Cape Town native, Wim Botha. These figurative busts, each carved from bibles, dictionaries and encyclopedias, recall the Western archetypal portrayal of power, stability, and rigidness; however,it is through his material choices that he shifts gears towards a different kind of power and stability. The artist playfully subverts both form and content by choosing to use books which content creates questions that further enable progress rather than political stagnation.
Artist, critic, and curator Mike Kelley, whom recently passed away, created ‘Double Figure (Hairy)’, a sweet yet disturbing object that features two donated, old teddy bears. Kelley, whose art was often referred to as pathetic, enjoyed exploring the subliminal messages within the unwanted objects he uncovered. Teddy bears, especially those that are previously ‘owned’, carry an undeniable emotional residue, one that might not always be as pleasant as we thought it could be.
“Rather, here’s a structure that’s loaded with pathos, and you still don’t like it, you don’t feel sorry for it, you want to kick it. That’s what I wanted out of the thing—an artwork that you couldn’t raise, there was no way that you could make it better than it was. Its function as art actually makes it more uncomfortable.”
Miami’s Spinello gallery displays the wonderful work of Agustina Woodgate. The colorful and complex rug, ‘Milky Way’ is made of the skins that once belonged to a few hundred abandoned stuffed animals (seems like the teddy bear thing is trending, eh?).
Peruvian artist Jose Carlos Martinat instals two fake palm trees equipped with ‘banker’ printers that ‘discharge’ print-outs of random information abut the political relationship between the United States, Cuba and Puerto Rico. These printers are connected to a router which responds to a custom built software,developed by the artist, every time new information about these countries’ relationship appears on the internet.
Luckily, the artist was at the booth of Revolver Galeria, to kindly provided the public with insider’s information about the piece:
“I bought these two artificial palms here in the United States, and then we put these bank printers in them. Then we made a program. The software works with a website that searches for information about the relationship of the United States and two islands, Cuba and Puerto Rico. It goes through Google and searches for “United States” and “Cuba,” and it then collects information from websites. The program composes text from this information and prints them. So all the information on the floor is about the relationship between those countries in English and Spanish.”
Japanese artist Yoshitomo Nara’s ‘Little Thinker’ is one of the cutest works found at Art Basel. The ‘Little Thinker’ was painted over cotton and then mounted on a circular fiber plastic surface. Nara’s overly cute subjects might just seem fine on a surface level, however Nara is known to subverts these typically cute images by infusing his works with horror-like imagery. This juxtaposition of darkness and innocence may be a reaction to Japan’s [his native land] rigid social conventions.
New York-based painter and sculptor Will Cotton [mostly known for his recent participation as an art director for Katy Parry's music video 'California Gurls'] creates ‘Sweet’, a sculpture that resembles a mountain of pastel-colored cupcakes and cakes. The delicious-looking work of art looks very realistic, and, at first glance, can fool you very easily. ‘Sweet’ is made out of acrylic and polystyrene.
Julião Sarmento, a Portuguese painter, creates cerebral, haunting and intriguing works that can come off as bit grotesque. The resin sculpture of the headless woman presents a recurring motif in Sarmento’s line of work; one that hopes to evolve into an ongoing investigation of the complexity of Foucault’s [and Bastille's] ideas of psychological interaction, sensuality and transgression. The bloody bucket motif [most likely a reference to the menstrual cycle], as well as the anonymity of the woman, are key points of reference that further allow the viewer to understand Sarmento’s efforts to visually capture the theoretical concepts at hand.