Look Out For Hip Galleries and Politically-Charged Artwork at VOLTA 2016

Dealers love this artist-focused fair. Here's why.

Brian Willmont. Photo: Victori + Mo Gallery.
Pier 90.Photo: David Willems, courtesy Volta.

Pier 90.
Photo: David Willems, courtesy Volta.

Since its New York debut in 2008, VOLTA has developed a reputation as the Armory Show’s hip cousin. Situated on Pier 90, just steps away from the main fair, the invitational fair boasts a lineup of edgy galleries and art spaces, with thoughtful presentations concerning the work of only one or two artists.

For some of the 100 exhibitors from New York to Nairobi—two-thirds of which have participated in the fair before— its an opportunity to showcase an artist whose oeuvre might not make sense or be appreciated in the context of a more traditional fair. This holds true particularly for those working in multiple mediums or with sensitive, politically-charged imagery. For others, it is simply a chance to promote a current exhibition to a wider audience.

But what all dealers seem to agree upon is that VOLTA provides an opportunity to participate in an art fair without many of the typical drawbacks of the fair scene, such as cramped rows and unfocused booths.

Joe Brittain, Untitled (2015). Photo: Catinca Tabacaru.

Joe Brittain, Untitled (2015).
Photo: Catinca Tabacaru Gallery.

“I appreciate VOLTA’s focus on single-artist projects in New York.  It’s a model that offers a more in-depth understanding of an artist,” said gallerist Catinca Tabacaru in an email to artnet News. “When you do a solo [show], the artist thinks of the space as one, and creates with that also in mind. It’s cool to see that fifty-some times in one grand space.”

For Tabacaru’s second year at the fair, her eponymous gallery will present the work of multimedia artist Joe Brittain, which will include a wall sculpture made with magnetic sand, glass, and black diamonds; a drawing comprised of several wasp’s nests; and a large freestanding sculpture crafted from wood and white crystal balls. The Brooklyn-based artist mounted his first solo show at the gallery last April.

“[A] visitor could never understand the breadth of Brittain’s work if it was not for dedicating an entire booth to the practice,” Tabacaru said.

Doty Glasco, Totem Pole; June 1957 (2016). Photo: CES Gallery.

Doty Glasco, Totem Pole; June 1957 (2016).
Photo: CES Gallery.

Similarly, Los Angeles-based CES Gallery will present multimedia duo Doty Glasco, who use photography, collage, and sculpture to riff on traditional American landscape photography, particularly that of West Coast highways, which at one time functioned almost like advertisements for the American Dream

The collective, comprised of JR Doty and Joe Glasco, came together in 2013 after meeting as graduate students at the San Francisco Art Institute. Their work has been exhibited at CES, San Francisco’s Smoking Nun Gallery, and included in group shows at the Laguna Art Museum, Saatchi Gallery’s Start Art Fair, and New York’s Howard Greenberg Gallery.

On a yearlong research trek across the country, the pair reproduced several photographs of sun-soaked Arizona highways, layering them with found objects and archival images. The results are layered, 3-D wall-hangings that can also appear as flags.

“This is by far the most calculated and dedicated exhibition we have ever mounted outside of the gallery,” said director Carl Smith in an email.

Brian Willmont. Photo: Victori + Mo Gallery.

Brian Willmont, Untitled (2015).
Photo: Victori + Mo Gallery.

Victori + Mo, which recently opened in Bushwick’s 56 Bogart building, will showcase new work by contemporary pop painter Brian Willmont, who is also the subject of a solo show currently on display at the gallery. Willmont’s vibrant, borderline surreal paintings resemble the flatness of a digital screen, but remain rooted in everyday reality thanks to familiar iconography like rosebuds and raindrops.

Willmont, a Brooklyn resident, has had solo exhibitions at Driscoll Babcock Gallery and Greenpoint Terminal in New York, and participated in group shows at The Hole and Castor Gallery. He was also previously featured in Victori + Mo’s booths at Aqua Art in Miami and Art Market Hamptons, both in 2o15.

“I think a lot of people are drawn to his work because they stimulate a hallucinatory experience and there is a strange push-pull of what’s real and what’s not,” director Celine Mo told artnet News via email.

Paul Brainard, Douchebags Rewarded. Photo: The Lodge Gallery.

Paul Brainard, Douchebags Rewarded.
Photo: The Lodge Gallery.

Similarly, The Lodge Gallery will present a booth related to their current exhibition “Paul Brainard: ROASTED,” which features humorous portraits of New York art world fixture Paul Brainard by 32 of his friends and creative peers, including Walter Robinson, Dawn Frasch, and Alfred Steiner. But instead of the portraits, gallery owners Jason Patrick Voegele and Keith Schweitzer have chosen to present several delightfully transgressive, politically-charged sketches by Brainard himself. 

Brainard, a longtime Brooklyn resident, has had solo exhibitions at New York’s Max Fish galleryand bar and Prague’s Dvorak Sec Contemporary. He has participated in group shows at Brooklyn Fire Proof, Arts & Leisure New York, Freight + Volume Gallery, and BravinLee Programs.

“[Brainard’s] cynical grip on popular culture, politics, and nostalgia are in perfect keeping with the political and social zeitgeist of the 2016 election year frenzy,” Voegele told artnet News in an email. “There is also an overt rebelliousness in both the execution and the subject matter of his work that services the viewers imagination with recollections of a kid in the back of a high school classroom, clad in a leather motorcycle jacket, carving away his frustrations and his fantasies into a desktop with a switchblade.”

He continued, “I’m pretty sure Paul will be voting for Glenn Danzig for president.”

Inna Levinson, Applaus für die Tanzenden, 2015.Image: Courtesy Ten Haaf Projects.

Inna Levinson, Applaus für die Tanzenden (2015).
Image: Courtesy Ten Haaf Projects.

This brazen sensibility is shared by Amsterdam’s Ten Haaf Projects, who will present compositions made of colorful, plasticine clay—the kind most often used by children—by Ukrainian artist Inna Levinson.

Levinson, who graduated with an MFA from Berlin’s Universität der Künste in 2014, has shown at Berlin’s NBJF Project and Prague’s Galerie ve Sklep, as well as in group exhibitions at Bremen’s ArtDox and at the Moscow Biennale for Young Art.

Her classically-inspired works depict jarringly modern scenes like the assaults on women celebrating New Year’s Eve in Cologne, or a mass rape of black and brown figures by tiny white men wearing Ku Klux Klan robes. These scenes are tempered by her use of bright colors and crude, child-like renderings.

“[She] is not afraid to work around taboo subjects as mass immigration problems, political hypocrisy, sexual orientation, and excesses,” said director Justin Ten Haaf in an email. “Levinson’s work is all about desire—desire that makes us do great things but also can destroy things.”

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