Independent Art Fair Returns Next Month With a Focus on Magical Realism. Here’s a First Look at Some of the Highlights

Known for being a launchpad for artists' careers and art trends, the forthcoming edition showcases artists exploring the emergent style.

Ross Caliendo, Lilac Moon (2022. Courtesy of Ross+Kramer Gallery, New York.

The Independent New York is one of the most anticipated fairs on the circuit, known for presenting a thoughtfully composed selection of galleries and nonprofits—achieved through invite-only participation—and a proven track record as an indicator of trends in art and a launch point for artists’ careers. From Oscar Murillo to Ruby Neri, Independent has operated as a defining moment for a wealth of artist for over a decade.

The fair’s founding curatorial advisor, Matthew Higgs, says, “From the outset, more than a decade ago, the goal of the Independent was to create an art fair that artists would actively want to participate in. Artists were, and remain, central to the Independent’s ethos. The scale of the fair, its open design, and our emphasis on one-person presentations, has become an increasingly persuasive model for other art fairs. In eschewing the distinctions between emerging and established, between insider and outsider, etc. the Independent hopes to create an environment where unexpected encounters can take place between artists of all generations. We are invested in the idea that art is made by very different people, in very different circumstances, and often with very different intentions. The ultimate ambition of the Independent is to represent something of the complexity of contemporary visual culture.”

Jeremy, The Kiss (2022). Courtesy of Peres Projects.

Jeremy, The Kiss (2022). Courtesy of Peres Projects.

The forthcoming fair promises to highlight diverse and intellectually evocative trends in contemporary art; many artists’ work investigates gender and queer identities—of particular import within the context of today’s cultural and social climate. Too, exciting rediscoveries, where historically significant art and artist will have the benefit of renewed acknowledgement.

One particularly intriguing thread emerging is an inclination toward magical realism. A genre most associated with literature, magical realism uses the real world as a foundation, but with a distinct air of the magical or fantastical. Rooted in the unprecedented events and upheavals of recent years, the presence of magical realism across a range of contemporary art is a fascinating development.

Hydeon, Judgement Day (2022). Courtesy of Ricco/Maresca.

Hydeon, Judgement Day (2022). Courtesy of Ricco/Maresca.

Presented by Ross+Kramer in a solo presentation, Ross Caliendo synthesizes traditional elements of Surrealism with stylistic elements of Neo-Impressionism, resulting in familiar depictions of the natural landscape but with a vibrant, multihued twist.

Inspired by horror video games and the photography of Hans Bellmer, in Michelle Uckotter’s work shown by King’s Leap, reality-based interior scenes contain off-kilter perspectives and grim palettes, transforming the mundane into something uncanny—conveying there is something more just beyond the surface.

Elizabeth Schwaiger, Doublethink (2020). Courtesy of Nicola Vassell Gallery.

Elizabeth Schwaiger, Doublethink (2020). Courtesy of Nicola Vassell Gallery.

Elsewhere, Peres Projects’ feature of paintings by Jeremy highlight the synthetization of subject and genre. The artist’s depiction of the human body operates as a starting point for investigations into the spectrum of queer identity and draw on the traditions of European Surrealism and magical realism.

Shown alongside Will Thornton in a duo presentation by Ricco/Maresca, Hydeon’s historically informed work juxtaposes a myriad of elements, from early modern architecture to folk art (and even a semi-trailer truck), resulting in an intriguing narrative element that at once feels familiar yet is decidedly new.

Michelle Uckotter, Confession Booth 2 (2022). Courtesy of King's Leap.

Michelle Uckotter, Confession Booth 2 (2022). Courtesy of King’s Leap.

The collocation of the familiar and reality based with the compositionally out of place or non sequitur alludes to a clear trajectory towards themes of magical realism, perhaps what one could consider a 21st century evolution of 20th century modes such as Dadaism, Surrealism, or even Futurism.

Opening next month—running from May 11 through 14—Independent once again offers the invaluable opportunity to explore the “consciously scaled” fair and discover some of the most relevant contemporary art and artists and engage with the fairs signature, thought-provoking curatorial program.

Independent will run May 11–14, 2023, at Spring Studios, New York.

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