Thursday, September 24, 2015

Expo Chicago 2015

Back when I was living in New York City, I attended many art fairs - Art Basel/Miami, The Armory Shows, NADA, New York Art Book Fair and Governors Island Art Fair (I volunteered at the latter two), Scope, Pulse, The Affordable Art Fair, to name just some. Apart from the venue locations and parameters, the fairs tended to all have the same bumpy floors covered with thin material, were either overheated or too cold, with lots of people and lots of art that was sometimes intriguing, sometimes not. They often ended up being overwhelming.

In the intervening years, I've visited many museums and galleries in Berlin and elsewhere in Europe and the States, but it had been awhile since I'd been to an art fair. This past Sunday, I was expecting more or less what I had experienced in previous years. Navy Pier was a good setting for Expo Chicago; it was calmer, not as frenzied as venues I'd been to before. I particularly enjoyed the chance to chat with Berlin, NYC, Chicago, London, and Shanghai dealers I'd either met before when I lived in those cities or had heard about and wanted to meet.

I spoke with Candice Madey, owner of the New York gallery On Stellar Rays, who told me that she had moved from her original space on Orchard Street to a location on the Bowery. The whole Lower East Side has changed enormously in the last 5-10 years and smaller galleries are often forced to relocate due to rising costs.We talked about Georgia Sagri, an artist that a friend and I saw perform at Candice's gallery back in 2009, when it first opened. At Expo Chicago, Candice introduced me to and showed me the work of  JJ Peet, one of her current artists whose video compilation of  his own work - shot as stills - was rather captivating.

Kavi Gupta's Berlin gallery has closed, due mainly to rent increases in the German capital, but he still maintains two spaces in Chicago on Washington Boulevard and on Elizabeth Street. Some of the artists he represents include Claire Sherman (a personal favorite), Roxy Paine, Sterling Ruby and Angel Otero. We wondered where the next "art city" would be.

Small art works seemed to be a theme at many of the galleries I saw. At Koenig and Clinton, Peter Dreher's paintings of glasses varied slightly from one another and reminded me a great deal of Giorgio Morandi's loving attention to the variations in light and form as they touch objects. I quite liked Chinese artist Wang Yuping's small representations of everyday items. The Pavel Zoubok booth drew me in with delicate works by Joe Brainard, Eric Rhein and Laurie Frick.

At London's White Cube gallery booth, I was drawn to a small gouache on paper by Tracey Emin, Grotto III, part of a larger body of 2014 work entitled The Last Great Adventure is You. It was delicate, dainty, not words I'd ordinarily use to describe this erstwhile enfant terrible YBA. Speaking of London galleries at the fair, I was happy to talk with representatives of Whitechapel Gallery, one of my favorite places in London.

The Zen calm of the artwork in MA2 Gallery's booth and Russian artist Asya Resnikov's piece entitled Packing for Delivery: Boy at Nancy Hoffman Gallery were a pleasant conclusion to the day; instead of feeling ambushed by art and its related crowds, I felt invigorated and inspired by what I saw.