Art Basel OVR Highlights: Lucio Fontana
Basel, 29 October 2020
Lucio Fontana, Concetto Spaziale, (1958). Incisions on paper canvas. 96 x 130 cm. © Fondazione Lucio Fontana. Courtesy Ben Brown Fine Arts.

Lucio Fontana's work is being shown alongside Alexander Calder's at Ben Brown Fine Arts for Art Basel OVR:20c.

Known as the father of Spatialism, Argentine-Italian artist Fontana worked with a variety of materials and techniques to experiment and pioneer conceptual limits in art.

The Movimento Spaziale was the result of the 'Manifesto Blanco', a manifesto written by the students and teachers at the Academia Altarmira, which Fontana founded in 1945. The manifesto called for art that combined elements of colour, movement, time, and space.

This work is part of Fontana's 'Concetto Spaziale' series. The linen was stretched and painted in monochromatic colours, to which Fontana would stab to create buchi (holes), exposing the space beneath. In creating this void, Fontana investigated and manipulated the space between the viewer, the canvas, and the space beyond.

The painting is significant for marking the beginning of Fontana's distinctive 'Tagli' (cuts) series. Tagli being the process of vertical or diagonal energetic slashes made to the canvas made with a sharp blade. Earlier Tagli work can be delineated for their rougher, more ragged tears, whereas later works were characterised by definitive slashes.


More in Advisory Picks

Luc Tuymans at David Zwirner
Hong Kong, 28 October 2020
Luc Tuymans, Still (2019). Oil on canvas. 90.6 x 176.2 cm. © Luc Tuymans. Courtesy David Zwirner.

Drawing on Flemish traditions of Realism, featuring representations of found images or photographs, Luc Tuymans' work engages with the world in a way that defies traditional narratives and histories to instead 'start from something real'.

His figurative paintings executed in muted colours and a hazy application of paint, create a dream-like frame, drawing on themes of memory and his interest in photography and moving image.

Still is inspired by a scene from David Lynch's film, Mulholland Drive (2001), in which Justin Theroux's character is confronted by a cowboy mysteriously advising him on his predicament.

Together with Outfit—a painting of the cowboy costume of Hollywood actor, Tom Mix—these works also investigate the image of the cowboy as a cultural embodiment of the U.S.A. and how this was exported globally. The title of the show, Good Luck, also hints to a more ominous or threatening message when considered alongside images of cowboys.

Luc Tuymans' exhibition Good Luck is showing with David Zwirner in their Hong Kong gallery, running from 27 October to 19 December 2020.

Vojtěch Kovařík at Mendes Wood DM
Brussels, 28 October 2020
Vojtěch Kovařík, Island of Ogygia, (2020). Acrylic on canvas. 250 x 200 cm. © Vojtěch Kovařík. Courtesy Mendes Wood DM.

Mendes Wood DM have announced representation of the young Czech painter, Vojtěch Kovařík.

Vojtěch Kovařík featured in their exhibition at Villa Era in Italy that opened on 26 September 2020. His paintings are figurative and monumental; using spray paint techniques, he creates a patina akin to the stone surface of sculptures.

Although hugely influenced by artists such as Baselitz, Lupertz, and Picasso—Kovařík also cites his father's readings of Greek myths from a book by Eduard Petiska as a huge influence to him.

Soviet Brutalist sculpture and murals also permeate his imagery, imbuing them with melancholy and rooting them to his native Czech Republic.

Vincent Fecteau at Galerie Buchholz
Berlin, 28 October 2020
Vincent Fecteau, Untitled (2020). Papier-mâché, acrylic, wood, felt. 46 x 72.5 x 32 cm. © the artist. Courtesy Galerie Buchholz, Cologne and Berlin.

This wall-based sculpture was part of a group of 12 new works by Vincent Fecteau for his exhibition at Galerie Buchholz, running from 11 September to 31 October 2020.

The San Francisco-based artist is also represented by Matthew Marks Gallery in New York and greengrassi in London. Recent museum solo shows have included the CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts, San Francisco (2019) and Secession, Vienna (2016).

Fecteau often uses papier-mâché, together with various everyday materials to construct his sculptures. These works contain free-flowing forms that shift in and out of legibility as our eyes wander around the surface. Each object or shape of recognition is twisted or merged into another; Fecteau's use of colour playfully intersecting this apparent malleability.

A tactile quality is alluded to via the use of felt and cotton, and although his work often invites comparison with Ken Price and Ron Nagle—perhaps due to their modest scale and abstract nature—these works seem more architectural and energised, revelling in the process of excavating and constructing forms in three-dimensional space.

Qian Jiahua at ASIA NOW
Paris, 22 October 2020
Qian Jiahua, Fountain (2019). Acrylic on canvas. 55 x 50 cm. © Qian Jiahua. Courtesy HdM Gallery.

HdM Gallery showed this painting by Qian Jiahua for ASIA NOW online, presented on Ocula, from 21 October to 7 November 2020.

Qian Jiahua is a young Chinese artist based in Shanghai and known for her geometric abstract paintings in acrylic. Her work has been included in group exhibitions at K11 Museum and the Long Museum in Shanghai.

Using thin lines of paint to dissect planes of colour applied in varying textures, Qian Jiahua's compositions are activated through these contrasting edges that form an illusion of layer and depth.

In Fountain, a thin line casts an elegant shadow, transforming the blue beneath into an airy natural tone, which is offset by a deep blue opposite. This rich blue is dramatically interrupted by a stroke of white—subtly appropriated from Hockney's famous splash paintings—and alluding to the fountain's spurting water; Qian Jiahua teases out these natural sensations and memories from within us.

Meekyoung Shin at ASIA NOW
Paris, 21 October 2020
Meekyoung Shin, Translation - Vase Series (2020). Soap, pigment, varnish, fragrance. 53 x 27 x 27 cm. © Meekyoung Shin. Courtesy Lee-Bauwens Gallery.

With her solo show In the Shadow of Time at Lee-Bauwens Gallery, Meekyoung Shin is one of two artists being shown by the gallery for ASIA NOW, which ran from 21 October to 7 November 2020.

Having received an MFA from Slade School of Art, Shin splits her time living and working between Seoul and London. Her works have been exhibited in both group and solo shows internationally.

As an artist from Korea, training in European sculpture in the U.K., Translation - Vase Series is part of her main body of work focusing on the theme of cultural hybridisation. Her detailed chinoiserie vases, a style synonymous with the antiques created for American and European export, probes viewers to question how cultural displacement affects interpretation and appreciation.

This slippage is elucidated further as we realise that the artefact is made out of soap, adding connotations of impermanence and washing or cleanliness.

Kim Tschang-Yeul at ASIA NOW
Paris, 21 October 2020
Kim Tschang-Yeul, Waterdrops (1985). Oil on canvas. 50 x 50 x 1.5 cm. © Kim Tschang-Yeul. Courtesy the artist and Almine Rech.

ASIA NOW ran from 21 October to 7 November 2020. One of our highlights from the previews is this Kim Tschang-Yeul painting exhibited with Almine Rech.

Korean artist Kim Tschang-Yeul is internationally renowned for his abstract paintings depicting exquisitely detailed and perfectly formed drops of water. These droplets are depicted in a moment of equilibrium, whilst reminding us of the fragility of our existence.

Kim's family fled Communist North Korea when he was a young boy, and he was to later fight in the civil war from 1950 to 1953, which left an indelible mark on his practice. As he remarked in his conversation with Vivian Chui, 'I wanted to break away from the experience of the war. When I discovered the water drop, I thought I had found a playing ground that could be my own.'

Over the course of several decades living in Seoul, New York, and Paris, Kim Tschang-Yeul developed a precise, contemplative abstract style that moves far beyond the immediacy of hyperrealist trompe l'oeil effects, revealing a powerfully meditative atmosphere. The end result is long lasting and universal in its scope.

Louise Bourgeois
at Sotheby's

London, 17 October 2020
Louise Bourgeois, Fragile Goddess (2002). Fabric. 33 x 12.6 x 14 cm. Courtesy Sotheby's.

Included in the major 2007 Tate retrospective and derived from a similar bronze 30 years prior, here is Louise Bourgeois' Fragile Goddess from the Contemporary Evening Sale at Sotheby's on 21 October 2020.

Autobiographical in both theme and material, Louise Bourgeois' body of work represents a therapeutic desire to emotionally repair her tumultuous childhood. A Surrealist tactility—through her use of fabric—is combined with biomorphic forms, invoking themes of gender and womanhood. With rough, fragmented stitching in stark contrast to the body's soft fabric, Fragile Goddess is a potent evocation of the traumas of motherhood and childbearing.

On womanhood, Bourgeois wrote, 'I have endeavoured during my whole life time as a sculptor to turn woman from an object into an active subject'.

Alberto Giacometti
at Phillips

London, 17 October 2020
Alberto Giacometti, Femme debout, (1961). Bronze. 44.5 x 7.8 x 11.1 cm. Courtesy Phillips.

Alberto Giacometti's exquisite Femme debout sculpture was included in the 20th Century & Contemporary Art Sale on 20 October 2020 at Phillips.

Giacometti's incredible ability to work the female form through his obsessive technique of whittling the figure down to a delicate yet domineering presence is conveyed perfectly in this sculpture.

Giacometti had a deep fascination with the human gaze and its ability to discern the life of the individual. 'If I can hold the look in the eyes, everything else follows', Giacometti once said. The artist would expect his sitters—often his wife Annette Arm—to maintain a presence as attentive as the artist himself.

Detailed, smooth and dominating, the head is in stark contrast to the rigid ultra-thin vertical body that falls beneath. The fragile proportions yet soulful presence of the figure reinforces the awe we experience when faced with this masterpiece. Commenting on his innate ability to create such contradiction, Jean-Paul Sartre noted that Giacometti's depictions on humanity were 'always mediating between nothingness and being'.

Rachel Jones
at Thaddaeus Ropac

London, 16 October 2020
Rachel Jones, A Slow Teething (2020). Oil pastel, oil stick on paper. 160 x 250 cm. © the artist. Courtesy Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, London-Paris-Salzburg. Photo: Eva Herzog.

This painting by Rachel Jones was shown at Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, London, as part of their group exhibition, A Focus on Painting (12 September–21 October 2020).

Rachel Jones recently completed her MA at the Royal Academy Schools and lives in London. Painted on unstretched canvas or paper pinned to the wall, she constructs powerfully visceral images bursting with colour.

Abstract forms slowly reveal an interior landscape of teeth and gums; the depths of Jones's internal body are unearthed, becoming an expression of her own inner life. This gloriously imaginative and ambient interpretation of her self invites us to reconsider how society views the Black body in other forms of imagery or media. Although Jones's innate talent as a colourist envelopes us with such sensorial power, it's this energy that has the most telling affect on us.

Kai Althoff
at Whitechapel Gallery

London, 16 October 2020
Photo: Ocula Advisory.

'Beauty in your work takes many forms, and includes your febrile drawing, so sensitive, so ornate; and your effulgent colours, which to me evoke Renaissance tapestries. Your subjects, at times, describe the essence of perfect companionship, which by definition is beautiful in its equanimity and balance.'

Laura Hoptman quoted from her conversation with Kai Althoff in the catalogue that accompanied the artist's solo exhibition at MoMA in 2016.

The elusive artist's exhibition with Bernard Leach recently opened at Whitechapel Gallery in London.

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