The Armory Show and Independent: Artwork Selections
Advisory Perspective

The Armory Show and Independent:
Artwork Selections

By Rory Mitchell| New York, 8 September 2021

As New York recovers from Hurricane Ida, the city's art scene is back in business. With The Armory Show and Independent opening this week, Ocula Advisory select some stand-out works showing across the two fairs.

Valentina Liernur, Señora con anteojos (2021). Oil on canvas. 159 x 109 cm. © Valentina Liernur. Courtesy the artist and Simon Lee Gallery.

Valentina Liernur at Simon Lee Gallery, The Armory Show

This moody yet wonderfully vivid portrait is the work of Argentinian artist Valentina Liernur.

Drawing inspiration from the distinct culture and people she surrounds herself with in her native city of Buenos Aires, Liernur has forged a somewhat unique style with her voyeuristic figurative paintings in a limited colour palette of dramatic, darksome tones.

Juro Que, Liernur's debut show with Simon Lee Gallery took place in Hong Kong this summer, marking the first time the Argentinian artist has had her work presented in Asia.

Olga de Amaral, Estela 56 [Trail 56] (2015). Signed, titled and dated on the reverse. Gold lead and gesso on linen. 165 x 68.6 cm. © the artist. Courtesy Richard Saltoun Gallery, London.

Olga de Amaral at Richard Saltoun Gallery, The Armory Show

Estela 56 [Trail 56] is an exquisite gold leaf on linen work by Colombian textile artist Olga de Amaral, who is considered a key figure in the development of Latin American abstraction.

Hung as a painting flat upon the wall, this 2015 piece is a continuation of de Amaral's exploration of Colombian textiles, ornate religious relics, and the surrounding Colombian landscape where she grew up and continues to be inspired by.

Born in Bogotá, Colombia in 1932, de Amaral received the Guggenheim Fellowship in 1973, represented her country at the 1986 Venice Biennale, and had her work exhibited at institutions including the Musée d'Art Moderne in Paris and the Museum of Modern Art, New York, among others.

Andy Warhol, 'Helen/Harry Morales for 'Ladies and Gentlemen' (1975). Stamped by The Estate of Andy Warhol and The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts on the overlap. Acrylic and silkscreen ink on canvas. 36 x 28 cm. © The Estate of the Artist. Courtesy Richard Saltoun Gallery, London.

Andy Warhol at Richard Saltoun Gallery, The Armory Show

This little gem is from Andy Warhol's iconic 'Ladies and Gentlemen' series of polaroids and silkscreen paintings of trans and drag queen models.

The series, which was commissioned Italian art dealer called Luciano Anselmino, features 14 models whose names were only recently uncovered by researchers and released by the Warhol Foundation. This anonymity contrasts with the popular celebrity figures present in so much of Warhol's work, such as Elvis Presley and Marilyn Monroe, and familiar faces from The Factory.

Warhol's lurid green and turquoise tones smother the dark ghostly figure gazing provocatively out towards us. All eyelashes and bouffant, Helen/Harry Morales possesses just as much glamour as Warhol's more famous models.

Park Seo Bo, Ecriture No. 981206 (1998). Mixed media with Korean Hanji paper on canvas. 162 x 195 cm. Courtesy Tina Kim Gallery.

Park Seo-Bo at Tina Kim Gallery, The Armory Show

Legendary Korean painter and father of the Danksaekhwa movement, Park Seo-Bo recently had a hugely impressive exhibition at White Cube in London.

This work from 1998 is from his celebrated 'Ecriture' series and exudes restrained elegance so typical of the artist.

The grid-like composition, comprised of ruffled paper textures is only broken by flat areas of black and a delicate line that floats across the top left area of canvas. A superb example.

Michaël Borremans, Horse Hunting: the Game (2004–2005). 29.7 x 21 cm. Pencil and white ink on paper. Courtesy Zeno X Gallery.

Michaël Borremans at Zeno X Gallery, The Armory Show

Revered for his unique approach to portraiture and its portrayal of the human condition, Belgian painter Michaël Borremans is one of the most exciting contemporary artists working today.

Having presented a series of satin-coloured cone paintings at Zeno X Gallery earlier this year, his pencil and ink on paper Horse Hunting: the Game (2004–2005) is showing with the gallery for The Armory Show.

Having previously been exhibited at La Maison Rouge, Paris, Kunsthalle Helsinki, and Berardo Museum in Lisbon, among others, this will be the first time this work has been made available for purchase into a private collection.

Kudzanai-Violet Hwami, Lost Contact (2021). Oil, charcoal, acrylic on canvas. 120 x 120 cm. © Kudzanai-Violet Hwami. Courtesy the artist and Victoria Miro.

Kudzanai-Violet Hwami at Victoria Miro, The Armory Show

Kudzanai-Violet Hwami's layered canvases utilise everything from photography to oil paint and pastel, questioning themes of sexuality, gender, and spirituality, drawn from her experiences growing up in South Africa.

Speaking on painting in a conversation published in Ocula Magazine in 2019 with artist Michael Armitage—who currently has a solo exhibition at London's Royal Academy—Hwami explained, 'I paint because of the pleasure of painting and having a direct connection between the mind and the hand'.

Having recently completed her MFA at Ruskin School of Art, the young Zimbabwe-born artist currently is the subject of her first solo show at Victoria Miro.

Rute Merk, Lina (2021). Oil on linen. 160 × 110 cm. Courtesy the artist and Downs & Ross, New York. Photo: Phoebe D'Heurle.

Rute Merk at Downs & Ross, Independent

Born in Lithuania in 1991, Rute Merk received her BA in painting from Vilnius Academy of Arts in 2013, followed by a diploma from Akademie der Bildenden Künste in Munich in 2020.

Using the traditional medium of painting, Merk incorporates techniques unique to contemporary technology, including glitches and digital textures.

With sources ranging from Eastern European social realist painting to science fiction, Merk's engagement with the legacy of painting combines past and future, and has been the subject of solo exhibitions across Kyiv, New York, Shanghai, Vienna, and Vilnius.

Xiao Jiang, Resting (2019). Oil on canvas. 80.6 × 100.3 cm. Courtesy Karma.

Xiao Jiang at Karma, Independent

Born in 1977 in Jiangxi Province in China, Xiao Jiang began his career in art design at a cultural centre in his hometown of Jinggangshan, which involved poster painting and stage design.

Later pursuing oil painting at the China Academy of Art, he has developed a body of atmospheric works shaped by bold, earthy planes of colour occasionally punctuated by vivid hues.

Whether idle scenes such as this one, or vistas of mountain ranges in Jiangxi Province, Xiao Jiang's paintings are reminiscent of those by Edward Hopper in their stillness.

Main image: Andy Warhol, 'Helen/Harry Morales for 'Ladies and Gentlemen' (1975). Stamped by The Estate of Andy Warhol and The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts on the overlap. Acrylic and silkscreen ink on canvas. 36 x 28 cm. © The Estate of the Artist. Courtesy Richard Saltoun Gallery, London.