Armory Week went up against a snowstorm and a schedule clash with the contemporary auctions in London and the European Fine Art Fair (TEFAF) in Maastricht, but still collectors, curators and celebs came out to make significant purchases and artist discoveries.
Below are some works by emerging and established artists that caught our eye.
YINKA SHONIBARE MBE
Yinka Shonibare MBE, Pan, 2018, Unique fiberglass sculpture, hand-painted with Dutch wax pattern, bespoke hand-colored globe, gold leaf and steel baseplate
Yinka Shonibare has become well known for his exploration of colonialism and post-colonialism within the contemporary context of globalization. His work examines race, class and the construction of cultural identity through a sharp political commentary of the tangled inter-relationship between Africa and Europe and their respective economic and political histories. His latest "Wind Sculptures" series resembles a billowing slice of fabric waving in the wind.
For Shonibare, the richly colored sculptures refer to designs on wax batik print. Similar designs often appeared on textiles that were imported from West Africa by the Dutch during the 18th century. These days, however, those fabrics are produced in the Netherlands and exported to Africa, and so the work becomes a meditation on the history of colonialism.
Yinka Shonibare MBE, Material I, 2017, Hand-painted bronze
We were lucky enough to attend a celebratory dinner for Yinka, culminating in much well-deserved attention all week due to the unveiling of his new public art piece gracing the sidewalks of New York City. His new commission with the Public Art Fund, Wind Sculpture (SG) I, is currently on view at Doris C. Freedman Plaza, just outside the Southeast entrance to Central Park until October 14, 2018. Shonibare considers the 23-foot-tall piece to be the beginning of a second generation of the series, the first generation having ended with Wind Sculpture VII, which is permanently installed outside the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art in Washington, D.C.
Yinka Shonibare MBE, Wind Sculpture (SG)I, 2018, Hand-painted fiberglass resin cast
Shonibare's works are included in notable collections, including the Tate Collection, London; Victoria and Albert Museum, London; National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institute, Washington, D.C; Museum of Modern Art, New York; National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa; National Gallery of Modern Art in Rome and VandenBroek Foundation, The Netherlands.
Kehinde Wiley, Portrait of Jean Baptiste (The World Stage: Haiti), 2018, Oil on linen
Since the reveal last month of the Obama presidential portrait, Wiley is in great demand with his paintings consisting of similar floral backdrops and intense, saturated colors. He was featured in several galleries throughout the Armory Show. As a contemporary descendent of a long line of portraitists, including Titian, Reynolds, Ingres, among others, Kehinde engages the signs and visualrhetoric of the heroic, powerful, majestic and the sublime in his representation of urban men and women. The piece featured below, with a title referencing a 19th-century Irish novelist, is Wiley's first work after the Obama portrait. In case you're wondering why the title is a woman's name, when the subject is a man, Mr. Wiley is recalling an original painting of Margaret by Sir Thomas Lawrence, circa 1821.
Kehinde Wiley, Margaret, Countess of Blessington, 2018, Oil on canvas
Upcoming exhibitions include a solo show of new paintings at the St. Louis Museum of Art and participation in the landmark exhibition "Michael Jackson: On the Wall" at the National Gallery, London.
Occupying 33 square feet at its base, Tara Donovan's Untitled is a colossal sculpture made entirely from plastic tubes, precisely cut in lengths ranging from two inches to eight feet. The mountainous geometric structure was constructed in the middle of the Armory maze and seemed to emerge straight from the floor, building gradually to dwarf its maker. It pointed directly to the booth where her Composition Cards wall pieces completely sold out.
Tara Donovan, Composition Cards, 2017, Styrene cards and glue
Known for her commitment to process, Donovan has earned acclaim for her ability to discover the inherent physical characteristics of an object and transform it into art. Her most recent series of Composition Cards is comprised of wall-mounted framed works in various sizes that are produced of layered and heaped styrene cards suggesting stalagmites or wind-eroded outcroppings. Each Composition develops through an improvisational process of incremental stacking that slowly evolves into a unique set of strategic rules that guides the completion of the work. The convergence of the styrene cards becomes a dynamic two-dimensional surface pattern of parallel lines produced by the edges of each card standing perpendicular to the wall. The surface gains sculptural volume when a viewer moves around the work, revealing the depth in the negative spaces between each of the cards. The cumulative effect of these qualities recalls lenticular printing techniques that rely on offsetting layers to create the illusion of motion on a static surface.
Tara Donovan, Composition Cards, 2017, Styrene cards and glue
Later this year, Tara Donovan will be the subject of a solo exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Denver and included in the group exhibition Hyperobjects, at the Ballroom in Marfa, TX.
Mark Gonzales, Tall and Slender Short and Green, 2018, Acrylic on canvas
Iconic skateboarder-turned-artist Mark Gonzales is best known for his profound contribution to the development of street skateboarding from the mid-1980s onward. Gonzales' creative outlook is evident in his ability to perform inventive new tricks using the existing framework of urban architecture like handrails, stairs, and ledges. His artwork grew out of the same environment as his skateboarding and includes illustrating zines, which often have surreal and humorous characters.
Mark Gonzales, Yellow Painting with Pink Clouds and a Single Woman Sun Bathing, 2018, Acrylic on canvas
Born on June 1, 1968 in South Gate, CA, "The Gonz" began skateboarding by the age of 13 and formed the company Blind Skateboards in 1989. While pursuing his sporting career, the artist began drawing in his free time and created graphics for Krooked Skateboards. Since then, he has collaborated with the clothing brands Supreme and Adidas, both which produced products featuring his drawings. In his "Poem Paintings," the exploration of various themes using "automatic spelling" and invented syntax is seen here, suggesting the raw graffiti-style text that is so often associated with skateboarding. Basically, his works are allabout inclusion.
Tomashi Jackson is a multi-disciplinary artist who uses the formal properties of color perception to investigate the value of human life. Her exploration began with a close reading of Josef Alber's instructional text "Interaction of Color" from 1963. In this text, Jackson observed that the language used to describe the formal interaction of colors mirrored the language of racial segregation.
Jackson's latest work emerges from her research of the history of transportation in Atlanta, GA, specifically focusing on the movement of white Atlanta residents to suburbs outside of the metropolitan area in order to preserve racist policies. These collages incorporate silkscreened documentary images that are historically focused on the construction of racial barriers. The mixed-media works combine the flip sides of political mailers and shopping bags to create an abstract shape resembling a political districting map. They are hung on the wall by their shopping bag handles. The works are paradoxically transparent and opaque, dimensional and flat, messy and organized. Though the works are graphic and aesthetically pleasing, the critique of the racial overtones ultimately outweighs the form. Jackson received her MFA from Yale, a Masters from MIT and a BFA from Cooper Union. Her work is currently included in a group show at Mass MOCA.
Elias Sime, Tightrope: Split in Half, 2017, Reclaimed electrical wires on panel
Elias Sime works primarily in relief sculpture and architecture. For more than twenty-five years, he has made collage and sculptural assemblage from found objects such as thread, buttons, plastic, animal skins, horn, fabric and bottle tops, alongside organic building materials and binding agents such as mud and straw. Many of the objects come from Mercato, the Addis Ababa open-air market said to be the largest in Africa, and in particular the market's Menalesh Tera section, where trash is repurposed in resourceful ways.
Elias Sime, Tightrope: Out of the Blue, 2017, Reclaimed electrical wires on panel
Sime's work has been shown internationally at the Dak'Art Biennale in Dakar, Senegal; the New Crowned Hope Festival in Vienna, Austria; and in the United States at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Studio Museum in Harlem; and a survey exhibition that traveled from the Santa Monica Museum of Art, California, to the North Dakota Museum of Art. His work is included in the permanent collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Israel Museum, Jerusalem; Toledo Museum of Art, Ohio; Perez Museum of Art, Miami; Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, New Hampshire; and the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, Kansas City, MO.
Elias Sime, Detail of Tightrope: Out of the Blue, 2017, Braided electrical wires
LINA IRIS VIKTOR
Lina Iris Viktor, Dark Continent IX, Recall, the Gold sifted from dirt...,2016, Pure 24-karat gold, acrylic, ink, polymer varnish, print on cotton rag paper
Working across multiple mediums, Lina Iris Viktor adheres to a color palette of blue, black, white and 24-karat gold to create paintings, sculptural works, photography, performance works, and installations. Viktor's work seeks to heighten the experience of the spectator by creating immersive environments that transport the viewer into other worlds. Her work transcends mysticism in a post-colonial spectrum and in doing so, she re-enacts a disruptive idea of primitivism. Her interpretations reveal intelligence, beauty and perfection. By blackening her naked body, Viktor inverts European notions of beauty and purity. Viktor poses with defiance and her use of gold on and around the black body reminds the viewer that she acknowledges light because of the existence of dark.
Lina Iris Viktor, Constellations VI, 2018. Pure 24K gold, acrylic, poly resin on matte canvas
Viktor's narrative poses a concept of utopian threat where women reign supreme as the arbiters of justice, the aesthetic ideal, and the divinity we all look to reestablish balance in the world. Each portrait is gilded, adorned, and blessed with her own hands as a personal and intimate offering. Using symbolic characters, the artist spreads a light that invokes the desire to celebrate the inner substance of life, but also excavates the essence of wealth from under the earth.
Lina Iris Viktor, Materia Prima II, 2017-18, Pure 24K Gold, Acrylic, Poly Resin, Print on Matte Canvas
Viktor has exhibited at Harvard University, Boston; The Kentucky Museum of Arts & Craft, Louisville; and has engaged in critical talks, panels & lectures at New York University, The Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA, London), King's College (London), St. Louis Art Museum, among others.
Molly Larkey, Do Like Thrive, 2018, Acrylic on linen on steel
At the NADA art fair, Molly Larkey's new wall works and free-standing sculptures stood out. They embrace contradiction through the joining of opposing forces: figuration with abstraction; feminine with masculine; soft fabric with welded steel. The works change shape and meaning as the viewer moves around them: a line becomes a symbol becomes a painted gesture becomes a figure becomes architecture. Every aspect of Larkey's work has material and metaphorical relationships with real life structures.
Molly Larkey, Hatch, 2018, acrylic on linen on steel
Larkey welds steel square tubes that are commonly used to make fences and gates, structures associated with enclosure,
separation, confinement, and control of movement. Here, they are reconfigured to become dynamic and generative, open to multiple interpretations. Wrapping the works with linen transforms the metal without negating its structural qualities. The linen fabric, in addition to its painterly associations, acts like a bandage, bringing a sense of care and healing to each rigid structure. The use of paint further animates the geometrical lines and straight edges of the structure. The wide-ranging colors, applied with various textures and qualities of line, create a musicality as one moves around each
piece. It proposes that all voices and elements, even those in seeming opposition, are necessary to the whole.
Molly Larkey, Do Like For, 2018, Acrylic on linen on steel
Molly Larkey lives and works in Los Angeles, CA. Her work will be featured in the upcoming exhibition The Beyond: Georgia O'Keeffe & Contemporary Art at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art,
Bentonville, AR. It has also been exhibited at PS1 MoMA, New York; The Saatchi Gallery, London; LACMA, Los Angeles; The Drawing Center, NY; and Samson Projects, Boston.
Manuel Mathieu, Anonymous, 2018, Mixed Media on Canvas (Acrylic, oil stick, chalk, charcoal, spray paint, and tape)
Born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti in 1986, Mathieu was raised in an environment infused with both danger and beauty. During the 21 years he stayed in his home country, he became witness to constant political upheaval, widespread disease, and ongoing natural disasters. He also experienced the rich history of art and independence that is integral to the Haitian culture. Within that atmosphere, the unique visual language Mathieu has developed is a fluid mixture of his Haitian heritage and his formal arts education, which culminated in a Masters of Fine Art from Goldsmiths, University of London. He is also inspired by the ability of the Irish painter Francis Bacon to convey agony, and to turn the grotesque into the sublime.
Manuel Mathieu, The Wait, 2018, Mixed Media on Canvas (Acrylic, oil stick, chalk, charcoal, spray paint, and tape)
The highly individualized aesthetic that has evolved from those diverse influences is based on adding, and then taking away. Layers of paint are rubbed and scraped off, and then rebuilt--a technique called frottage. The effect evokes worn surfaces, and the passing of time. Depth is then added through layering of impasto markings and layers of tape and chalk. The process is analogous to a life cycle, and designed to explore emotive depth, with underlying tones of humor and calmness.
Manuel Mathieu, Study on Vulnerability, 2018, Mixed Media on Canvas
For subject matter, Mathieu turns to his own life. While studying at Goldsmiths, he was hit by a motorbike, and nearly died. His recovery demanded several months off from painting, creating a time of contemplation. At this same time, Mathieu's grandmother grew ill. Her bravery and humor inspired him, and focused his own thoughts on what truly matters in life. The experience informed the paintings he went on to create for his first major solo exhibition, which debuted in London in 2017. That show sold out, evidence of Mathieu's innate ability to convey visceral emotion. Soon after, Mathieu moved to Montreal, where he was again struck by a vehicle, this time while walking on the sidewalk. The accident nearly destroyed his ability to walk. But he has continued to work. While recovering, his thoughts have simplified, centering on what he considers the most important topics in life: notions of time, sexuality and death. These ideas are at the heart of his new work, which he introduced at the Armory fair and will be presented in his upcoming solo show this Spring.
Manuel Mathieu, The Reception Perpetuum, 2017, Acrylic, oil stick, chalk, charcoal, spray paint, and tape on canvas