SCOPE Miami Is Anything But Subtle

Street art, edgy stuff, and nothing twee.

Alberto Sorbelli, Tentative de rapport ABECASSIS in chef d'oeuvre (1996)
Johnson Tsang, Guardians' Fall (2014)

Johnson Tsang, Guardians’ Fall (2014).
Courtesy of Oxholm Gallery, Copenhagen.

Crowds had already descended on the SCOPE Miami tent on the beach by the time the fair threw open its doors for the VIP preview at noon on Tuesday.

Within the bright white tent with stunning views of the green ocean and bright sands was a wide array of vibrantly colored art, heavy with a street-art aesthetic, including text and neon, as well as large-scale, bold—frequently  flashy—works. One case in point: a pink-neon looped mirror with the word “Selfie” in pink neon-tubed script above it, shown at the booth MORDEKAI by Ken Borochov.

Ken Borochov, Selfie (2014)

Ken Borochov, Selfie (2014).
Courtesy MORDEKAI by Ken Borochov, New York.

Subtle this fair is not. Visitors walking the central aisle have a clear sighting of a work hung at Inner State Gallery, Detroit: Death to Shepard Fairey (2014) an acrylic-on-fiberglass wall-mounted installation showing a figure mounted crucifixion-style, apparently pinned and covered by Fairey’s instantly recognizable close-up of André the Giant.

Ryan McCann, Death to Shepard Fairey  Courtesy Inner State Gallery.

Ryan McCann, Death to Shepard Fairey (2014).
Courtesy Inner State Gallery, Detroit.

Moving on, the New York gallery Life as a Work of Art, showcased the work of three of its artists: bold, large-scale figurative paintings by Mark Beard; photographs by Marwane Pallas; and dramatic, staged photographs by Italian-born, Paris-based artist Alberto Sorbelli.

London’s Woolff Gallery featured a work by Russell West titled Gnab III that looked like a riot of explosive color and motion thanks to the star-shaped arrangement of brightly colored oil and wire on board.

Marwane Pallas, Boy from Venus (no date).
Courtesy Life is a Work of Art, New York.

Copenhagen’s Galleri Oxholm showed sculptures by Hong Kong artist Johnson Tsang, including Looking for Me, in which a baby peers into the mirrored head of an older figure and Guardians’ Fall, in which a baby figure lies prone in front of four tanks—a reference, says director Kim Jørgensen, to what is known as the “June Fourth” incident of the Tiananmen Square protests when a man refused to yield to four tanks.

London gallery Omer Tiroche showed an array famous names, including Richard Prince and Andy Warhol, as well as Harings and Basquiats which fit particularly well with the street-art aesthetic. The booth’s bling factor works also included a Superflat painting by Takashi Murakami and a Yayoi Kusama–designed Louis Vuitton handbag perched atop a Kusama-dotted, mushroom-shaped plinth.

Some  lower-key booths worth a look: Avner Sher’s solo-artist show at Ostend, Belgium–based Koninklijke Villa Gallery, where dealer Johan Westenburg showed tactile mixed-media on cork and wood, carved and scratched  by the Israeli artist. The work is rooted in graffiti but evokes Art Brut names such as Jean Dubuffet as well.

Avner Sher, Untitled (1999). Photo: Courtesy Galerie Koninklijke Villa, Ostend, BE

Avner Sher, Untitled (1999).
Courtesy Koninklijke Villa Gallery, Ostend, Belgium.

And don’t miss the Juxtapoz stand, an exact replica of a New York City magazine stand designed by artist Grotesk, complete with numerous publications (some free), graffiti, police WANTED posters and even bags of fake 99-cent plaintain chips.

Also notable was the number of Seoul, Korea, galleries in attendance this year–15 in all. Among the standouts was Artside, which showed a suite of watercolors by Lee Sang Won. Sports (2008) shows people, some not in ideal physical shape, in various states of physical exercise, and a reference to the fact that the artist was unaccustomed to such activity within his country. Keumsan Gallery featured Bae Chanhyo’s beautiful large-scale photographs in which the artist posits himself in relation to Elizabethan themes in order to confront issues of gender, prejudice, and isolation following his move to London.

Russell West, Russell West,Gnab III. Courtesy Woolf fGallery, London.

Russell West, Gnab III (no date).
Courtesy Woolff Gallery, London.


[Featured image on homepage: Alberto Sorbelli, Tentative de rapport ABECASSIS in chef d’oeuvre (1996), courtesy Life is a Work of Art, New York.]


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