The Virtual doors have opened this week at this year’s special version of the world’s most sought after art fair: Art Basel in its origin town Basel, Switzerland. Art Basel is offering an “open for business” online welcome to art collectors, patrons and enthusiasts. Since it began in 1970, this leading international exhibition has always looked forward and encouraged the emergence of bold and innovative artists.
This year is no different, and while the exhibition is online the whole idea is to engage the audience through participation in a range of streamed talks, curated tours, and digital events. 282 of the world’s leading galleries are taking part drawing together around 4,000 artists whose works range from video installations to painting and sculpture. Many of the artists are keen to explore the impact of the current pandemic. They have responded to today’s challenges with works which confront the viewer with a reminder that while we are part of the natural world we have a calling to think about social justice and individual and collective rights. Art Basel is so much bigger than one venue; it seeks to extend its influence globally. As digital screens light up, there is so much to discover online till June 26, 2020 as a wave of creativity breaks out…
I’m quite embracing the new way of seeing Art Basel online this year, while relaxing by a pool instead of rushing through the halls of Messe Basel. I have found much to explore in the extensive online gallery. Six pieces in particular, discover them here:
Jeppe Heins’ reflective balloon sculpture “One Wish for You, 2020” plays with perspective as it challenges us to look at the world around us in new ways. The combination of color, materials and the dexterity of the execution draw the eye upwards to the floating artwork. Will it break through the ceiling as we are left to contemplate what we have just seen? The work is brought to Art Basel by Berlin’s König Galerie which represents over 30 international artists and has done much to promote new talent since opening in 2002.
Something about the color combinations and organic form of the painting drew me close to Etel Adnan’s “Morning, 2019”. Although she only began painting once in her sixties, her work features in numerous public and private collections. She is also an established poet and essayist drawing on her rich Lebanese – American background. Galerie Lelong & Co. of New York City and Paris is pleased to be associated with Etel and has published a book of her collected writings: “Un Printemps Inattendu” (“An Unexpected Spring”)
I can feel the intensity of “Blue 3, 1960” by Sam Francis. It is not just the depth and range of the blue but the way it seems to create a frame within a frame as he explores the idea of negative space. The way that the shades of blue drip and feed into each other flow from the influence of the light of California on the artist’s work. Galerie Carzaniga Basel, based in the old town is a leading Swiss gallery which presents an eclectic selection of art from the classic to the contemporary.
Albert Oehlen’s image “Untitled (Baum 30), 2015” is immediately arresting. Painted on aluminum to give an almost industrial texture it plays with organic form while maintaining crispness and precision. It is a crafted blending of the tree (a favorite motif) with complementary abstract forms sparking thoughts of how we relate to the nature around us. From its locations in London, New York City and East Hampton NY, Skarstedt Gallery brings Albert Oehlen to Basel as part of their commitment to curate some of the finest contemporary art.
Practically jumping out of my screen is an example of the crisp and vibrant pop art of Sister Corita (Corita Kent). The title alone urges me to look more closely: “Damn/Everything/But The/Circus, 1968-1970”. The pop art nun urges us to consider consumerism by mimicking the graphic design of so much advertising. It’s both playful and yet compelling. The Mayor Gallery has promoted modern and contemporary art from its London base since the 1920s with pop art one of the key strands in their history of supporting emerging talent.
It would not be Basel without a video installation so I am drawn to Joseph Kosuth’s “Existential time#02”, 2019. Words matter to Kosuth; as a leading and early conceptual artist he has used them to express art in language and to encourage interactivity with his artwork. Here, at online Art Basel, the shimmering quality of the text is an integral part of his installation. The presentation is part of the Lia Rumman Gallery‘s ‘Voyage to Italy’ theme which explores the country’s artistic history and cultural impact on artists past and present.
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