Ocula Report: Artissima
With an increased polyphony of centres emerging that promote specific local contexts, the art world has very visibly become more local, and intensely more global. Middle tier art fair Artissima proved again this year its importance in the art market, distinguishing itself apart from industry stalwarts, such as Art Basel and Frieze, by specialising in cutting-edge curatorial section selections and unique ties to the city of Turin.
Artissima’s strong identity as an art fair, and reputation for supporting the emerging market, has evolved around its sectors that include: Main Section, New Entries, Present Future (supporting emerging talents), Back to the Future (surveying artists active in the period 1975-1985), Art Editions and Per4m (devoted to performance art).
In the first week of November, under the glass of the Oval (a pavilion built for the 2006 Winter Olympic Games at the Lingotto in Turin), Artissima 2015 presented audiences with a consistent, high quality array of gallery booths from 35 different countries. Over 200 hundred galleries presented their wares to a record breaking 52,000 visitors who streamed through aisles during the fair. With an understandably visible Italian contingent, the overseas presence throughout the fair constituted close to 70%, which included a strong showing from Parisian, Berlin and London-based galleries.
Yet again, this year’s 22rd edition of Artissima made resoundingly clear that it is a fair that offers collectors great opportunities for chance encounters, largely without well-established art brands and the accompanying soaring price points. Keen to promote the event’s strong curatorial traditions, Director Sarah Cosulich Canarutto emphasised Artissima’s focus on current art trends while acknowledging contemporary art historical waves, specifically in the curated Present Future and Back to the Future sections.
Present Future proved to be geographically diverse, with an assorted selection of 20 participating artists. The young group of curators responsible for its curation included Luigi Fassi, Fatos Üstek, Lara Khaldi, Natalia Sielewicz, and Fatima Hellberg. This year the 2015 illy Present Future Prize was awarded to Russian artist Alina Chaiderov, for her presentation with Galerie Antoine Levi, Paris. Her display included the deceptive piece Before 1989 we kept the bananas in the closet (2014), which connected with the artist’s childhood memories, presenting a wooden wardrobe-like structure facing the back of the booth filled to the brim with bananas. As a result, Chaiderov will return to Turin next year to present a solo exhibition that will run in parallel with Artissima 2016.
In the same section, Galerie Joseph Tang’s entry by Daiga Grantina was equally impressive. Presenting audiences with a suspended multimedia installation entitled House of Throat (2015), the organic looking ensemble comprised of melted plastics, nets and acrylic piping flickered to a programmed projection throughout the fair. Joseph Tang also held a presence in the Main Section and Per4m section.
The Back to the Future section, which is dedicated to solo exhibitions of the great pioneers of contemporary art, has become known for reigniting the careers of senior artists. Curated by Eva Fabbris, Joāo Fernandes, Elena Filipovic and Beatrix Ruf, the section winner of the 2015 Sardi per l’Arte Back to the Future Prize went to the galleries Ellen de Bruijne and Dan Gunn. Their dual gallery booth exhibited work by American artist Michael Smith, with the display presenting a number of recently discovered sketches, drawings and documented performances.
This section also included Galleria Allegra Ravizza’s booth, exhibiting the work of Italian artist Nanda Vigo, which consisted of futuristic triangular mirrored sculptures, reflecting neon electric blues. Aurel Scheibler’s traditional presentation of figurative paintings by the late American artist Alice Neel was also noteworthy.
Within the New Entries sector, for galleries open for less than five years and at the fair for the first time, Allen from Paris and Cinnnamon from Rotterdam were standouts with their sophisticated expositions. The winner of the 2015 Promos Scalo Milano New Entries Prize was awarded to Galerie Laurent Mueller, Paris. The prize enables one artist from the gallery to work on a major site-specific installation commission in Scalo Milano’s exhibition space, currently under construction within the Piazze d’Artista project.
Artissima 2015’s Main Section was complemented by the industrial aesthetic at both Timothy Taylor Gallery’s booth, set by Mexican artist Gabriel de la Mora via a range of painted metal plates, and Primo Marella’s strong curation of sculptural pieces, including an unorthodox table setting and playful three-dimensional selfie stick objects.
Further highlights were Gallery Taik Persons all-Scandinavian booth—specifically the poetic photographic work of Adam Jeppesen—and Mind Set Art Center’s beautiful and technically precise paintings of family heirloom clothing by Filipino artist Marina Cruz. Not to be missed was Mexico City-based Proyectos Monclova’s group presentation that included an eye-catching carpet-tapestry by Christian Jankowski.
Fabrics and embroideries in many variations were a surprisingly common thread throughout the fair in the booths of A Gentil Carioca, Balzer Projects, Hester, Galleria Lorcan O’Neill Roma, Operativa Arte Contemporanea, Otto Zoo and Galeria Massimodeluca, rounding out a highly successful fair. —[O]