Let us begin by saying: fair fatigue is real. After a few hours of walking around Fiac and trying to take in as much as our brains and our eyes would allow, a break is very much needed and we think, well-deserved. But all the walking and trudging through crowds of impeccably dressed men and women with Gucci shoes and Chanel bags is worth it for the priceless pleasure of marvelling, wide-eyed, at new artworks and artists, forgetting for a few minutes the aching feet and busy crowd.
Here’s a round-up of some of our favourite artworks that we spotted at the art fair, works that stopped us in our tracks, that had us heaping praises or that made us think and reflect.
Tony Matelli, Arrangement 13, 2018 (Gallery Andréhn-Schiptjenko)
First you’re struck by the realism (is that a real flower?!) and then by the skill that went into making the painted bronze sculpture. With Arrangement 13, American sculptor Tony Matelli has turned the art of flower arrangement on its head (literally). More understated than some other works at the fair it’s refreshing to see some realism in a heavily conceptual art world.
Song Dong, Usefulness of Uselessness – Rectangular Window No.6, 2017 (Pace Gallery)
The title leaves us both scratching our heads and chuckling slightly. But it may also sum up how we thing about all these artworks: it’s precisely their usefulness that make them useful and enjoyable to us. As a conceptual artist, this is perhaps one of Song Dong’s few works that can be enjoyed first for its visual impact even without necessarily knowing the ideas behind it. We’ll be honest, on a superficial level we loved the mismatched windows and colourful mirrors but we also encourage you to find out more about this key Chinese artist!
Yeesookyung, Translated Vase, 2012 (Hyundai Gallery)
The bulging, bulbous shapes of the sculpture are weirdly pleasing and we were also drawn by the pastel colour palette contrasted with the shiny gold. Inspired by the Japanese Kingtsugi, the practice of repairing broken objects with gold, Korean artist creates bulbous and imperfect sculptures out of scraps of porcelain. The scraps come from contemporary Korean masters who destroy any work not deemed perfect, artist Yeesookyung carefully saved these pieces to give them a second life. In anything, we think this second life might be even better than the first.
Kehinde Wiley, Portrait of Quentin Lee Moore, 2018 (Galerie Templon)
Since painting Barak Obama’s portrait and contributing to the doubling in attendance of Washington’s National Gallery, Wiley has been a hot topic. He may be everywhere in the U.S.A. but here in Europe getting a glimpse of his paintings is a little harder. We’re glad we finally had the opportunity to! His signature style contrasting realism with 2-D pattern play is worth seeing in the flesh.
Ingres Wood, Katharina Grosse, 2018 (Gagosian)
Gagosian went all out this year with a showstopper piece by Katharina Grosse. Big may not always be better but in this case we think it might be. Grosse describes it as an “oversize, disassembled canvas”. The artist combined a felled tree (with a claim to fame, having been allegedly planted by Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres) with canvas draped on the floor and has used a spray gun to create an explosion of colour. We can like to think of the work as an ode to painting.
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