Art Fair Galleries

Forward-Looking Contemporary Art at Art Basel 2023

Irina Vernichenko from “Artdecision” offers a review of Art Basel ( June 2023), the most significant art event of the summer.

Though contemporary art has taken many forms, it always follows one categorical imperative, that is to move forward. Paintings, decorative panels, installations, sculptures and other “consumer durables” that were shown by galleries at Basel art Fair were in line with new discussions about ecology, urbanism and the new reading of the language- based Conceptualism.   

Curators of the Unlimited”sector chose artworks of large sizes. 76 large scale projects in dialogue with gravity, in the 16,000-square-meter hall, were the materialization of both new subjects and art’s eternal agenda, e. g. its connection with social sciences, psychology, theory of communication. A supportive community on a five-meter-long triptych The Athletes by Katherine Bradford was the best example.  

The Athletes, Katherine Bradford, Image I.Vernichenko

Ursula Reuter Christiansen portrayed psychological architypes in her Leporello project. Characters of Leporello: Painter/Philosopher, Revolutionary/Partisan, Homeless, etc were presented in bright “pop” colors, as a popular subject of conversations and the favourite part of the tool kit of psychologists.  

Ursula Reuter Christiansen , Leporello:, Image I.Vernichenko

Theory of communication could be “read” in Jorge Méndez Blake’s “Dismantled Waste Land”. Researches show that our attention at any party is focused on a single conversation, turning out other conversations, as well as music. In a large-scale composition by Jorge Méndez Blake 3055 words of T. S. Eliot’s poem ‘The Waste Land’ (1922) are scattered across the wall, creating noise. Some words move forward and remind us of the “cocktail party effect “.

Jorge Méndez Blake’s “Dismantled Waste Land”, Image I.Vernichenko

Language based Conceptualism in 1950-60 used linguistic analys in arts. In 2023 Ron Terada addresses the role of typography as a representation of information in his TL; DR (“too long”; “didn’t read’ ) project that recontextualizes headlines from the technology news sites and newspapers.

Ron Terada, TL; DR , Photo credit: Art Basel

Polemics is part of the marketing mix of commercial art fairs. Aluminum ship Horizons by Jean-Marie Appriou shown at “‘Unlimited” was about the new “obsession” with the future, discussed by the artists and art magazines. The large-scale aluminum boat Horizons carries two astronauts, the “exo-humans”.

Jean-Marie Appriou, Horizons, Image I.Vernichenko

Adel Abdessemed ‘s  Jam Proximus Ardet video project consists of a single shot that shows the same motif: a moving boat and the artist standing on this burning boat, looking strait ahead, perhaps at the illusory chimeras of the future.

A painting of a ship by Yu Hong addresses viewers to Hieronymus Bosch’s 16th- early 17th century triptych. Yu Hong portrays a group of teenagers struggling to keep the boat afloat.

Written by: Irina Vernchenko