Catch These Breakout Stars at the VOLTA Fair
Discover these nine great artists.
At the 10th anniversary of VOLTA NY, which kicked off on Wednesday, up-and-coming artists dig into subjects like cultural diversity and immigration, and even Donald Trump’s supposed sex practices, keeping the messages up to the moment. As per the norm, all 96 exhibitors were asked to showcase the work of just one or two artists, making it all the easier to cherrypick the fair’s break-out stars.
1. Kleinveld & Julien, “In Empathy We Trust” at Jonathan Ferrara Gallery, New Orleans
Amid VOLTA’s strong showing of contemporary art, the eye is immediately drawn to Elizabeth Kleinveld and Epaul Julien’s photographs, luminously colored images that restage iconic Old Master paintings for today’s global world. This means an Asian women standing in for Vermeer’s iconic The Girl With the Pearl Earring and other unexpected casting choices that serve as a celebration of diversity. Prices range from $750 up to $10,000.
2. Rebecca Goyette and Brian Andrew Whiteley, Golden Showers: A Sex Hex, at Freight and Volume, New York
If you’re looking for the most shocking work at the fair, this is undoubtedly it: a graphic, absurdist video reenactment of Donald Trump’s supposed Russian “golden showers” incident, with Brian Andrew Whiteley, of the infamous Trump headstone, starring as the president.
“We filmed it in a sex hotel,” Rebecca Goyette told us, noting that they had to sign in as “Mr. and Mrs. Whiteley,” and pay extra to bring in the other actors. With a portrait of Vladimir Putin perched above the bed, Goyette and several other provocatively clad women suggestively clamber on top of Trump, peeing all over him—not a special effect. Cheetos are also involved.
3. Federico Solmi, “The Ballroom,” at Luis De Jesus, Los Angeles
In a way, Trump bookends the fairs, with Golden Showers playing outside the VIP tent at the end of the pier. Just beyond the entrance, meanwhile, is Federico Solmi’s work, in which two animated clips in elaborate frames, set against a backdrop of red satin curtains, show the new president arriving at a grand palace.
The single-edition videos are the artist’s latest entry in his series “The Ballroom,” which is based on the fictitious idea that world leaders including Mussolini and Marie Antoinette belonged to a secret society called the Brotherhood.
“Solmi’s work has always dealt with the abuse of power,” gallerist Luis De Jesus told artnet, noting that artist used a video game engine to bring handmade paintings to life for the works. The two Trump pieces are $25,000 each (and one had already sold before the preview began), while the earlier entries in the series are $22,500, or $125,000 each.
4. Lester Rodriguez at RoFa Projects, Potomac, Maryland
A strong showing by Honduran artist Lester Rodriguez also took an unmistakeable political stance, in favor of immigration, a hot-button issue under the new administration. Dough mounted pawns on one wall to form the shape of the United States. The pawns are arranged in varying densities to reflect the geographic concentration of Latin American labor.
A sea of black origami boats crested in a wave across another wall, below the message “Every Land Is a Border.” The piece, Black Tide, serves as a powerful counterpoint to the president’s assertion that “a nation without borders is not a nation,” and reminds us that all borders are arbitrary and manmade. These forceful statements on vital issues will run you anywhere from $3,000 to $9,000.
5. Hidenori Yamaguchi at Kogure, Tokyo/New York
Hidenori Yamaguchi’s delicate black-and-white images printed on gorgeously textured Japanese paper would be impressive enough if they were photographs, but they’re not. These are paintings, created using many individual, translucent sheets, carefully lined up and layered to reveal the end result, images with surprising depth.
The large pictures, hyper-detailed streets of Tokyo train stations and crossings, take the artist months to complete, and sell for $15,000 each.
6. Sandeep Mukherjee, Mutual Reentanglement 2, Chimento Contemporary, Los Angeles
Making its New York fair debut is Los Angeles’s Chimento Contemporary, whose founder, Eva Chimento, says that she “always wanted to do something crazy at an art fair.” That’s what she’s aiming for with her mural installation by Sandeep Mukherjee, who has developed a fascinating technique working with Duralene. This thin polymer, which the artist likens to a “synthetic paper,” hangs on the booth wall in ten five-by-seven-foot sheets, each painted in countless layers of acrylic paint.
The modular work, which Mukherjee has already installed in two other configurations, recalls fabric and textiles, and represents something visually new in painting—a rare feat. The gallery is hoping to sell all ten pieces together, but will also part with them individually for $28,000 each.
7. Carmen Winant, in “YOUR BODY IS A BATTLEGROUND,” curated by Wendy Vogel
At the entrance to this mini-exhibition stand two walls featuring a new work by Carmen Winant, What Would You Do if You Weren’t Afraid? (Women in the News Before November 8, 2016), created for the fair in response to the 2016 presidential election.
The artist painstakingly clipped news articles about women published prior to Trump’s victory, obscuring the photographs and the body of the text with graphite dust, which leaves the stories below legible only from certain angles. In a somewhat depressing turn, the paper will degrade over time—perhaps a metaphor for the future of women’s rights in this country?
8. Danny Jauregui at Samuel Freeman, Los Angeles
Saddened by the closing of many of his favorite gay hotspots in Los Angeles, Danny Jauregui took a deep dive into the history of gay culture in his city. The starting point was the secret “address book” guiding gay men of the 1960s to safe spaces where they could meet one another.
The resulting works include painting inspired by the floor tiles of long-closed bath houses, a hand-drawn copy of a page from the address book, and a sex swing crafted out of human hair, all set against the backdrop of a newspaper article revealing the government’s surveillance of the gay population. Monoprints start at $3,300, while paintings top out at $8,000.
9. Kathleen Vance, “Traveling Landscape,” at ROCKELMANN &, Berlin
I’ve seen pieces from Kathleen Vance’s “Traveling Landscape” series before, in the back room of her Williamsburg gallery, Front Room, but they carried an extra weight at VOLTA, with the vintage suitcases, trunks, and makeup cases stacked in a huge pile, as if about to be loaded onto a steam engine setting off on a cross-country journey.
Some of the traveling gear is propped open, however, revealing landscapes in miniature, tiny rivers and streams running over rocky beds amid bucolic greenery where one expects to see toiletries and clothing. It’s a peaceful yet pointed meditation on urban disconnect from nature, the history of travel and modern-day concerns over carbon footprints, and even the concept of water rights, which don’t come with landownership. The suitcases range in price from $4,000 to $10,000.
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