The Superfine Art Fair is arguably one of my favorite fairs of the season. First, all the booths are staffed by the artists themselves. While it's great to make connections with gallerists who represent a variety of artists, it's really special to talk to the people creating the work about their inspiration and process. Second, the works tend to be at a more accessible price point since they're being sold directly, rather than through a gallery. Third, and perhaps most distinctively, this fair focuses on inclusivity, with entire sections devoted to Womxn and LGBTQIA+ artists. As a queer woman, I really appreciate both the messaging and ability to connect with artists who share my point of view. It also tends to be a really fun show, and I'm thrilled to share my show highlights with you.
This was one of the first pieces I saw at the show and I was completely mesmerized. This piece is ethereal yet strong, delicate yet stable, and utterly beautiful. Ogura's masterful use of linework is drawn from a combination of traditional Japanese calligraphy and an early appreciation for French Impressionist brushstrokes.
"Akané Ogura's paintings are inspired by the fleeting nature of life and femininity. She was raised in Japan with Shintoism's ancient animistic beliefs that teach that supernatural spirits inhabit every natural landscape element. This belief informs her relationship to nature and to its femininity, which are intertwined. Her work explores the bittersweetness of life, nature's fragility, and strength as proof of existence. The natural elements present in her work next to female figures symbolize a poetic, ethereal, and atmospheric nostalgia. They are visual records of womxn's wonders, feelings, fantasies, and dreams."
Her use of color is also important. Almost like minor chords in music, Ogura plays with levels of saturation and unexpected combinations which result in airy but still rich compositions.
The first thing that struck me about Sharone Halevy's work is its size. These canvases are HUGE, several feet in either direction (the one above is 30 inches x 60 inches) The next realization is that they each feel like some other world, just out of focus. Almost like in a movie where if you look at them long and closely enough, you'll magically be transported inside. After staring for a few minutes you'll hear a warm hello and begin a conversation with one of the most genuinely collaborative artists in NYC.
"My paintings are influenced by my clients' stories, inspirations, and hopes. Sound is foundational to my process, so I ask my clients to provide music which informs the paintings I create. Art is a way to interpret our experiences and make them beautiful; to let something be contemplative as well as reflective."
Looking through her body of work, Halevy plays with nearly every color on the wheel, but somehow every piece feels equally vibrant and personal; like each is a chapter from a different story. Her custom commission process also reminds me a lot of my own, and I can't wait to collaborate with her on future projects.
Jessica Joy London has one of the most interesting art making processes around. Combining her scientific background and artistic sensibilities, she experiments not only with how different materials interact, but the evidence of the interaction. She combines found materials, like onion skins, weeds, and trash, with different inks on hydrophobic yupo paper and lets nature take its course. Through evaporation and dispersion, once the works are dry they capture the infinite detail of seemingly mundane elements of daily life.
"I’m always excited to see what happens while I’m gone. All artists need to have that thing that keeps them coming back...but I really think about it like being outside, seeing how the leaves stain the sidewalk after sitting a while under the sun…or even a coffee stain,” she says, “and really, I’m collaborating with nature, understanding more about patterns in nature by interacting with them."
To further underscore the biological underpinning of her work, most of her pieces are trimmed to perfect circles, reminiscent of a view through a microscope. The level of detail is exquisite and despite being very much a product of her daily life, her work feels decidedly otherworldly.
Celine Gabrielle's work is not subtle. It is big, bright, and bold (this is one of her more subdued pieces). It is both ornamental and a critique of ornament. She engages with our current image obsessed culture on multiple levels (there is subtly when you really think about it), from glorification to analysis to criticism. It is also so visually rich, with a level of color saturation that I can only describe as juicy.
"I love bright, bright colours, in big hunks and chunks. Details zoomed in on. Light and shadows, folded-in-on itself to present something altogether different but recognizable. Alluring and intriguing. Never boring. Always engaging. My work takes from my obsession with fashion and that the clothes we wear is how we tell the world who we are, or maybe who we aspire to be...I love that my paintings look realistic from far, but up close as I work it's just abstract colour and shapes—like an illusion. I create because it’s fun, it challenges me and gives me energy. I’m a champion of colour and exuberance. I want the joy and pleasure I have making my works to go with them. Like coming home to a bouquet of wildflowers on the kitchen table—an unexpected pop, a wow moment on an ordinary day.
Gabrielle's work demands attention in the same way anyone wearing any of the outfit's she paints would turn heads walking down the street. Not for the timid, they are statement pieces that would define any space in which they are placed.
To say Rick Midler's mixed-media collages are a feast for the eyes would be an understatement. Reminiscent of a cross between Gustav Klimt's decorative motifs and luscious brocade sari fabrics, his dreamy landscapes offer a wealth of detail that demands close inspection. It is no surprise to learn that his work is inspired by his meditation practice and the combination of creativity, imagination and play.
"For over two decades, my work has explored how human beings are prone to stress over the unknown, while the releasing of expectations creates humility and equanimity. A playful brew of decorative papers set in a quilted cloudscape, these collages are dreamlike looks at how pointed focus in a complex panorama influences an awareness of the material world. The cloud people and drifting clouds that tend to camouflage them are meant to inspire the changes in perspectives and the welcoming of new possibilities."
Much like clouds themselves, Midler's work invite the viewer to find different forms and meanings in the compositions. Contemplating these layered and visually complex pieces almost becomes a mediation in itself, bringing the story full-circle.
Well, I think the common threads in this show's highlights are pretty clear - rich, complex colors and ethereal, otherworldly compositions. I love work that demands be considered and offers more with every visit. Of course there were more terrific pieces and booths at the show, but here you have my top 5 and my top trend. Hope you enjoyed!
Till next time…