Art Basel's flagship Swiss fair returns to Basel from 15 to 18 June 2023. The fair will host presentations by 284 galleries while welcoming 21 first-time participants to its main sector, including Offer Waterman in London and Blank Projects from Cape Town.
Ocula Advisors have selected 10 artworks to look out for, from Nicolas Party's soft pastel landscape at Hauser & Wirth and Issy Wood's velvet painting at Michael Werner Gallery to Bertina Lopes' vibrant abstract at Andrew Kreps Gallery and Jesse Wine's mysterious sculpture at The Modern Institute.
Hauser & Wirth's presentation of Nicolas Party comes at something of a moment for the Swiss-born artist, who recently unveiled a pastel mural in the Italian Galleries of New York's Frick Collection for the site-specific installation Nicolas Party and Rosalba Carriera (1 June 2023–3 March 2024).
Continuing to harness the power of soft pastels, Party's Mountains (2023) is a magnificent, large-scale work depicting the jagged terrain of a rocky mountain skyline.
Party employs a palette of azure, cobalt, and sapphire in delicate strokes to suggest the play of light in the mountain mist. The furthest, tallest peaks almost disappear into the horizon of this hazy, atmospheric painting.
2. Issy Wood's Amanda locks the fridge (2022) at Michael Werner Gallery
Glossy black marble, ripe asparagus and a gleaming gold padlock—Issy Wood's painting combines classical and contemporary imagery with an evasive logic all of her own.
Painted on velvet, Amanda locks the fridge (2022) is a soft, seductive yet eerie composition. The way the oil settles on the velvet surface conjures the temptation to reach out and touch the work, to experience it not as a two-dimensional painting but as a tactile object.
Wood's beautifully strange hyperreal paintings are highly sought after by collectors and gallerists alike.
Michael Werner Gallery's display of Wood's painting at Art Basel coincides with her inclusion in Maureen Paley's group show, outer view, inner world (26 March–18 June 2023) now on view at Morena di Luna in Hove.
Mozambique-born artist Bertina Lopes is known for her vibrantly coloured gestural abstractions that reference the social and cultural life of her motherland.
For Art Basel, Andrew Kreps Gallery presents Totem (1974), an abstract made from bold brushstrokes and saturated with a brilliant palette of earthy hues.
Emerging from the geometries of a tribal mask, Lopes' painting celebrates her deep connection to her country and to Africa's religious and social traditions. While Totem's thick outlines and considered amalgamations of form unite to command our attention, it's Lopes' synthesis of her native culture and anti-fascist and anti-colonialist views that position her as a pioneer of contemporary African painting.
Jesse Wine's ceramic work consists of a mattress sliced in half with two human legs outstretched, caught in a restful pose.
The lurid blue sculpture hovers above the floor, and looks as though it continues not just on the other side of the wall but somewhere we don't have access to—perhaps a parallel world.
The Brooklyn-based artist often depicts human limbs that are fragmented or isolated from the body. Speaking with Ocula Advisory, he described the limb as 'a universal starting place' in that 'each and every human is housed in a body'.
The intense fusion of colour and texture in Gerhard Richter's Abstraktes Bild (1991) emits an emotive aura that is both powerful and consuming.
Richter complements swathes of dark red and ruby hues with touches of green and black. In a frenzy of expressive strokes and scrapes, his mark-making creates a blur of horizontal lines across the canvas.
The composition has a depth to it that shares stylistic affinities with Abstract Expressionism: monumental scale, painterliness, and an eye for the power of colour and light.
6. Georg Baselitz' Spekulatius (1965) at Thaddaeus Ropac
Georg Baselitz made Spekulatius (1965) after spending six months at the Villa Romana in Florence, where he dedicated his time to studying the Mannerist style of painting.
He was fascinated by the Mannerists' anamorphic distortion of the human figure and became inspired to make the series 'Ein neuer Typ (A New Type)' or 'Heroes'—regarded as his most influential body of work.
Spekulatius belongs to this series. In the work, a lone figure stands open-armed, revealing a body rendered in a tangle of fleshy pink and dark brown strokes.
Vulnerable, exposed, and perhaps resistant, the figure is painted in a style that nods towards German Expressionist woodcutting—an important early influence for the German painter.
Thaddaeus Ropac's presentation of Baselitz coincides with the Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna's exhibition Baselitz - Naked Masters (7 March–25 June 2023).
7. Sue Williams' The Secret Police Balls (2023) at Regen Projects
American artist Sue Williams is known for treading a fine line between the figurative and the abstract. Hidden among the swirling composition's concise, sharp lines and expressive brushstrokes are recognisable forms such as horses and body parts—no doubt a reference to the work's title, The Secret Police Balls (2023).
The work is representative of Williams practice, which often addresses misogyny and the abuse of power in vibrantly coloured compositions that are at once disorientating and intriguing.
Girolata Triptych (1963) features thunderous strokes that hover between order and chaos.
Patches of green, teal, and black huddle together on a milky background scattered with violet and pink markings.
Mitchell's large-scale work was inspired by her visits to the small village of Girolata in Corsica, whose dense terrain offered Mitchell new visual forms to experiment with.
Girolata's exposed landscape of rugged coast, violet rock roses, and agave plants emerge on the canvas with traces of gesture that leave thick grooves, splatters, and smudges of oil.
Rirkrit Tiravanija's untitled 2020 (we are not your pet) (2023) belongs to a series of works that appropriate paintings by the Old Masters.
In the 'Old Masters' series, the Buenos Aires-born artist screen-prints extinct or endangered animals using ink only visible when activated by ultraviolet light. The transformative nature of the work highlights the impermanence of species and humankind's disregard for the accelerating extinction crisis.
In a conversation with Ocula Magazine in 2023, Tiravanija explained, 'We take other species and otherness for granted simply because we misunderstand or we don't have any experience'.
Sadie Coles HQ will present a solo booth dedicated to experimental painter Laura Owens, whose playful compositions recall the style of German artist Sigmar Polke.
In an attempt to re-conceptualise painting, Owens' most recent series confronts the limitations of the canvas.
After long periods of research, she began making work that encroaches on the walls and floor such as site-specific wallpaper paintings, sculptural installations, and mosaic tile paintings.
Her painting, Untitled (2023), is a palimpsest of delicate, iridescent colours.
Main image: Jesse Wine, J.W. Jumper Weather/ Jobless Waster/ Jesse Wine/ Just Wait/ Jelly Wind/ Jammy Wanker/ Jewelry Wearer/ Joyous Wallower/ Joe Wine/ jingle-jangle wrists (2022). Ceramic, sand and paint. 30.5 x 175.3 x 50.8 cm. Courtesy the artist and The Modern Institute/Toby Webster Ltd., Glasgow. Photo: Patrick Jameson.