For its eighth edition, TEFAF New York (12–16 May 2023) takes over the historic Park Avenue Armory, presenting museum-quality work from over 90 exhibitors from around the world.
Ocula's Advisors pick seven remarkable works to seek out, from a soft, moody abstract painting by Lee Ufan and the divine impasto of Manoucher Yektai to the tactile surfaces of Gabriel Orozco and the medley of maps by Alighiero Boetti.
Mexican-born artist Gabriel Orozco creates work that traverses the mediums of sculpture, photography, and painting, and tests the limits of art in relation to the everyday.
Rotating Pressures (2012) evokes a sense of playful movement and fluidity. Orozco's earthy terracotta objects sit in a circle, gathering varying silhouettes beside them, illuminated by light from above.
The tactility of Orozco's baked clay invites viewers to draw closer, revealing the sculpture's cracked, porous surface. While at first, the material appears fragile and vulnerable, the weight and shape of the work give an impression of robustness.
Lee Ufan brings the monochrome beauty of Dansaekhwa to Park Avenue Armory in a group presentation with Axel Vervoordt Gallery.
Known for interrogating the connection between body and object, Ufan's work on paper Untitled (1976) is a flurry of repetitive, intuitive mark-making.
The Korean-born artist's graphite on black paper is rendered through a cascade of minimalist gestures that gather varying tones of grey and white. The way in which Ufan's line drawing reveals his body movements superbly captures the work's visceral nature.
Born in 1915 in Cuba, Carmen Herrera painted Habana Series #21 (1950–1952) during a trip back to her motherland. Inspired by Havana's oppressive energy, Herrera made a series of paintings featuring tropical hues and chaotic scrawlings rarely seen in her oeuvre.
Herrera explored the potential for emotive gestures in the painting with deep curved lines and heavy brushwork before moving towards pure, geometric abstraction.
4. Alighiero Boetti's Mappa (1983–84) at Ben Brown Fine Arts
Associated with the Arte Povera movement of the 1960s and 70s, Alighiero Boetti is known for his vividly coloured embroideries, including world maps he first made—with the assistance of Afghani craftswomen—in 1971.
In Mappa (1983–1984), bordered sections of land are saturated with vibrant colours and familiar symbols relative to flags from individual countries. The world's oceans are marked out by heavily stitched blue thread that varies in tone, suggesting the constant flow of currents.
Boetti's Mappa visualises countries that no longer exist and depicts borders that have since disappeared. The work draws attention to issues of sovereignty and independence while challenging conventional notions of authorship and the distinction between art and craft.
5. Martha Jungwirth's Ohne Titel (2020) at Thaddaeus Ropac Gallery
Emerging from a plain, brown canvas made from cardboard, Martha Jungwirth's fleshy palette of reddish-and-violet pinks projects a sense of exploration and experimentation. Colour and form combine to see-saw between abstraction and figuration.
Ohne Titel (2020) was inspired by Jungwirth's curiosity for mythology and art history, and her own travel experiences. The Austrian artist's painting features a depth of texture—from powerful, thick brushstrokes to frenzied splatterings, drips, and scrapes.
Hailing from Tehran, Manoucher Yektai (1921–2019) was a Persian-American artist whose body of work has become extremely sought after in recent years. He is known for painting expressive still lifes and portraits—often bursting with colour, heavy contours, and swathes of impasto—that transcend the mundane in an explosion of gesture.
Leaving Iran and moving to Paris and eventually New York from the 1940s onwards, Yektai immersed himself in the artistic freedom of the Western world. Looking at the towering scale, surface texture, and subject of Open Window (1951), viewers can see the influence of Abstract Expressionists such as Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning.
Nicolas Party's Cave (2023) imagines a fantastical underground cave in majestic golden yellows. Atmospheric and otherworldly, Party's work often uses motifs from the natural world including waterfalls, ruins, and clouds.
Rendered in soft pastel, the painting depicts stalactites and stalagmites forming like great subterranean porticos.
Party's work is hotly sought after, following record-breaking auction results last year. —[O]
Main image: Gabriel Orozco, Rotating Pressures (2012). Five terracottas. Approximately 23 x 20 x 9 cm, 24 x 22 x 20 cm, 16 x 17 x 16 cm, 16 x 16 x 16 cm, 37 x 12 x 10 cm. Courtesy the artist and Galerie Chantal Crousel, Paris. Photo: Sebastiano Pellion di Persano.