Art Basel: Advisory Selections
Advisory Perspective

Art Basel:
Advisory Selections

By Rory Mitchell| Basel, 21 September 2021

Hotly anticipated mega-fair Art Basel returns this week, and despite recent travel warnings and testing requirements, turnout has been impressive. With over 250 participating galleries, those travelling to the fair will not be left wanting.

We have assembled a tight selection of our favourite works, which span historical heavyweights such as Robert Rauschenberg at Thaddaeus Ropac, following the artist's exquisite solo exhibition of metal paintings at the London gallery this summer. From splashes of colour in works by Zao Wou-Ki and Rita Ackermann, to a moody portrait in cool, cobalt and emerald hues by Victor Man, we share our picks.


Zao Wou-Ki, 07.04.2004 (2004). Oil on canvas. 150 x 162 cm. © ADAGP Zao Wou-Ki Photo archives, kamel mennour.

Zao Wou-Ki, 07.04.2004 (2004). Oil on canvas. 150 x 162 cm. © ADAGP Zao Wou-Ki Photo archives, kamel mennour. Courtesy Fondation Zao Wou‑Ki and kamel mennour, Paris/London.

Zao Wou-Ki at kamel mennour

The late Zao Wou-Ki is heralded for having mastered Chinese ink drawing and Western-style painting, effortlessly employing techniques and materials from both.

This 2004 painting showing with kamel mennour is a wonderful example of his later work, characterised by a lighter colour palette and freer forms of expression, as well as his use of oil paint—a material that he came to favour later on in his career while studying the works of Matisse and Klee on visits to Paris.

In 2018, his monumental abstract painting Juin—Octobre 1985 (1985) set a new auction record for the artist, selling for $65 million at Sotheby's Hong Kong, exceeding it's pre-sale high estimate by $20 million. This reportedly was 28 times the original price that was paid for the triptych back in 2005.


Albert Oehlen, Untitled (2021). Paper, oil, and acrylic on canvas. 270 x 310 cm. © Albert Oehlen. Photo: Simon Vogel.

Albert Oehlen, Untitled (2021). Paper, oil, and acrylic on canvas. 270 x 310 cm. © Albert Oehlen. Photo: Simon Vogel. Courtesy the artist and Gagosian.

Albert Oehlen at Gagosian

German-born, Swiss-based Albert Oehlen strips painting back to its most basic elements of colour and form to experiment with the medium's creative process.

Untitled (2021) is one of three Oehlen works showing with Gagosian for Art Basel, all produced by the artist this year.

Oehlen is acting as both artist and curator in a new exhibition currently on view at MASILugano, titled Albert Oehlen – 'big paintings by me with small paintings by others', where paintings by over 30 international artists are on view alongside his own work until 20 February 2022.


Alex Da Corte, The Big Little Falls (2021). Neon, vinyl siding, laminate, plywood, house paint, velvet, foam, hardware. 182.9 x 182.9 x 16.5 cm. © Alex Da Corte.

Alex Da Corte, The Big Little Falls (2021). Neon, vinyl siding, laminate, plywood, house paint, velvet, foam, hardware. 182.9 x 182.9 x 16.5 cm. © Alex Da Corte. Courtesy Sadie Coles HQ, London.

Alex Da Corte at Sadie Coles HQ

Alex Da Corte's fantastical works combine the conceptual and the kitsch to explore the complexity of pop culture and 21st-century consumerism.

A similar, earlier piece entitled Night Vision (2018), with matching suburban shutters and neon signage, sold at Christie's 21st Century Evening Sale for over double its high estimate at $187,000 in May earlier this year.

Commissioned by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, Da Corte created a large-scale blue bird sculpture sitting atop an Alexander Calder-esque mobile for the 2021 Roof Garden installation, on view through to 31 October.


Rita Ackermann, Mama, East of Cairo (2021). Oil, acrylic and china marker on canvas. 188 x 172.7 cm. © Rita Ackermann.

Rita Ackermann, Mama, East of Cairo (2021). Oil, acrylic and china marker on canvas. 188 x 172.7 cm. © Rita Ackermann. Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth. Photo: Lance Brewe.

Rita Ackermann at Hauser & Wirth

Hungarian-born, New York-based artist Rita Ackermann graduated from the University of Fine Arts Budapest in 1992 before studying at the New York Studio School of Drawing, Painting and Sculpture.

Ackermann's practice traverses abstraction and figuration, and Mama, East of Cairo leans towards the latter, with outlines of anthropomorphic figures emerging from gestural marks that sweep across the canvas.

Hauser & Wirth Monaco is currently host to a solo exhibition entitled Mama, '21, presenting a new body of works from her 'Mama' series, defined by an extraordinary evocation of line, colour, and form.


Victor Man, Girl in Love With a Wound (2020–2021). Oil on canvas. 27 x 35 cm.

Victor Man, Girl in Love With a Wound (2020–2021). Oil on canvas. 27 x 35 cm. Courtesy the artist and Galerie Neu. Photo: Stefan Korte.

Victor Man at Galerie Neu

Born in Romania in 1974, Victor Man's fantastical and timeless work has caught the attention of a handful of top galleries globally, with representation by Gladstone Gallery, Blum & Poe, Galeria Plan B, and Galerie Neu.

His small-scale portraits and still-lifes are characterised by a blend of old-masterly style with a contemporary colour palette and modern visual idioms.

Girl in Love With a Wound (2020) showing with Galerie Neu is no exception, depicting a woman's face bathed in tones of emerald green and cobalt blue.


Jill Mulleady, Hamlet (2021). Oil on canvas. 65 x 50 cm.

Jill Mulleady, Hamlet (2021). Oil on canvas. 65 x 50 cm. Courtesy the artist and Galerie Neu. Photo: Stefan Korte.

Jill Mulleady at Galerie Neu

Uruguay-born artist Jill Mulleady received her MFA from London's Chelsea College of Arts before settling in Los Angeles.

Mulleady's figurative paintings alternate between complex narratives full of art historical references and allegorical symbols, to works that focus on the most minute of details, set within her fantastical, time-bending world.

Having had a successful debut solo exhibition at Gladstone Gallery earlier this year, Mulleady has a current solo presentation at the contemporary art centre Le Consortium in Dijon until January 2022.


Mohammed Sami, Infection I (2019). Acrylic on linen. 225 x 285 cm. © Mohammed Sami.

Mohammed Sami, Infection I (2019). Acrylic on linen. 225 x 285 cm. © Mohammed Sami. Courtesy the artist, Modern Art, London.

Mohammed Sami at Modern Art

Born in Baghdad in 1984, Sami immigrated to Sweden in 2007 before completing his MA at London's Goldsmith's in 2018.

Living and working between London and Sweden, his ties with the former were further cemented when Modern Art announced their representation of the artist earlier this month.

The artist's work, which channels his experience of conflict growing up in Iraq, is included in Mixing It Up: Painting Today at Hayward Gallery until 12 December, and will be shown at Whitechapel Gallery's The London Open 2022 next summer.


Wilhelm Sasnal, Leaving Kacper (2020). Oil on canvas, 100 x 70 cm. © Wilhelm Sasnal.

Wilhelm Sasnal, Leaving Kacper (2020). Oil on canvas, 100 x 70 cm. © Wilhelm Sasnal. Courtesy Sadie Coles HQ, London.

Wilhem Sasnal at Sadie Coles HQ

Living and working in Kraków, Polish painter and filmmaker Wilhelm Sasnal began his career studying architecture before studying painting at the Academy of Fine Arts in Kraków, graduating in 1994.

Leaving Kacper (2020) showing at Art Basel with Sadie Coles HQ, is a wonderful example of Sansal's photorealist approach to painting. With his unusual cropping and use of light, his works reflect stolen moments in history.

Often underpinned by their weighty historical themes, his practice is currently the subject of a solo exhibition at Warsaw's POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews. Displaying dozens of paintings and drawings, the works look to confront the continuing impact of the Holocaust in present-day Poland.


Robert Rauschenberg, Rollings (Salvage) (1984). Acrylic, collage and graphite on canvas. 386.1 x 395 cm.

Robert Rauschenberg, Rollings (Salvage) (1984). Acrylic, collage and graphite on canvas. 386.1 x 395 cm. Courtesy Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac. © Robert Rauschenberg Foundation / ARS, New York, 2021. Photo: Glenn Steigelman.

Robert Rauschenberg at Thaddeaus Ropac

Having presented a solo exhibition of Robert Rauschenberg's metal paintings at their London location over the summer, Thaddeaus Ropac now present this 1984 work in addition to Star Grass (1983) for their Art Basel presentation.

Rolling (Salvage) was the result of a project Rauschenberg was involved in for Trisha Brown Dance Company's 1983 performance, Set and Reset. While silk screening images onto costumes for the show, the artist found that the images bled onto the fabric lying beneath.

The result was his 'Salvage' series, whereby the artist would create artworks based on the process of 'salvaging' the fateful prints. Images of scaffolding and buildings to cars and machinery can be found littered across the canvas, reflecting the artist's fascination with urban life and movement.


Louise Bourgeois, Sleeping Figure II (1950). Bronze, Ed. 3/6 + 1 AP. 189.2 x 44.5 x 30.5 cm.

Louise Bourgeois, Sleeping Figure II (1950). Bronze, Ed. 3/6 + 1 AP. 189.2 x 44.5 x 30.5 cm. Courtesy Hauser & Wirth.

Louise Bourgeois at Hauser & Wirth

Showing with Hauser & Wirth, Sleeping Figures II by Louise Bourgeois is an exquisite life-size sculpture, comprising three elongated oval shapes flanked by two spear-like accessories.

Belonging to her series 'The Personages', this 1950s bronze sculpture is one of 80 works in the series, representing the family and friends she left behind on her move from France to New York.

Speaking on this group of sculptures, the artist explained, 'The look of my figures is abstract, and to the spectator they may not appear to be figures at all. They are the expression, in abstract terms, of emotions and states of awareness'.

Bourgeois made a surprising feature in showbiz headlines this summer when Kanye West chose her 2007 gouache on paper work to feature as the cover of his 10th studio album Donda (2021).

Main image: Victor Man, Girl in Love With a Wound (2020–2021). Oil on canvas. 27 x 35 cm. Courtesy the artist and Galerie Neu. Photo: Stefan Korte.

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