New Miami Fair X-Contemporary Crackles With Youthful Energy

It's a fresh twist on the fair.

Luis Martin Youth Ecstasy (2015). Courtesy of Parenthesis Gallery, Brooklyn.

X-Contemporary, the brainchild of Matthew Eck, is one of the newest art fairs on the Miami art fair circuit. Eck is a co-founder of the well-received but short-lived Select fair, which he organized with Brian Whitely before both went their separate ways.

Located in a bespoke tent in the heart of the Wynwood Arts District, where nearby walls are blanketed with street art, the vibe was hip, relaxed, and noticably young, with various sources of music pulsing throughout on the VIP opening night. Brooklyn galleries were amply represented.

The airy, open layout of the exhibition space encourages relaxed viewing as opposed to the sardine-like feel of numerous other fairs.


Works by artist Hush, were shown at Willoughby Art Advisory and artist management.
Image: Courtesy of Willoughby Art Advisory,  New York.

But the laid-back atmosphere belies the surprising and ambitious objects on display. For instance, a massive Keith Haring mural spans an entire front wall, part of “Keith Haring: Pop Shop” that was curated by Castle Fitzjohns Gallery, which is across from a stunning booth of paintings by AbEx pioneer Grace Hartigan. This is a special exhibition curated by former head of Microsoft’s art collection, Michael Klein, of work that had not been seen in almost six decades.


Colombian art group Timebag showed for the first time in the US at X-Contemporary.

An innovate Colombian art group called Timebag, known for staging 24-hour shows that draw thousands of viewers, occupied another large booth; it is the collective’s first time in the US. Nearby, Arte Collective presented “Hecho in Cuba” featuring work by Cuban-based artists.


Paintings by Grace Hartigan in a special exhibition curated by Michael Klein.
Image: Courtesy of Michael Klein.

We spoke with Eck and his energetic producing director Crystal Curtis about their innovative approach to this new event. “They are groundbreaking, history-creating exhibitions,” said Eck.

Eck continued: “Now that the relations in Cuba have really thawed there’s no reason why we can’t we show living working artists from Cuba, and have a panel discussion with street artists in Cuba now, like in real time.” A talk is scheduled for Friday December 4 at 4 pm.


Arte Collective’s “Hecho en Cuba” show, curated by Yubal Márquez Fleites.

Many of the exhibitors were first-time fair participants, such as Luis Martin, owner of Parenthesis Gallery in Brooklyn. “I started studying a little bit the business of art,” which grew into his current gallery, he told artnet News. His own works were on view alongside the fellow artists he represented.

Javier Barrera's embroideries of the Messengers

Javier Barrera’s embroideries Messengers at Berlin Collective.
Image: Courtesy of Berlin Collective.

Another exhibitor was Nicole Cohen, an artist and creative director of Berlin Collective, which was founded in 2009. X-Contemporary “is new and innovative and for us we want to show a variety of work,” Cohen said. “It’s great exposure for us.” The collective has a residency program in Berlin, an active internship program and works with artists at all different levels of their careers. “It’s exciting because the idea is to have younger artists learning from older artists and vice versa,” said Cohen.

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