Avant Gallery Is Going to Be Everywhere During This Year’s Art Basel Miami Beach

With a presentation at Art Miami, an ambitious group show, a hotel takeover, and several parties, it will be hard to miss the local gallery this week.

Avant Gallery's flagship location at the Epic hotel in downtown Miami. Courtesy of Avant Gallery.

Founded in Miami in 2007, Avant Gallery has seen many Art Basel weeks in its time. But this year’s festivities are bigger than usual for the hometown gallery, which is involved in no less than a fair, an ambitious group show, a private preview, and a hotel takeover.

“I felt that we needed to nudge the envelope,” the gallery’s founder, Dmitry Prut, tells artnet News. “For many collectors who are flying in for a few days it’s becoming a bit overwhelming with so much going on and challenging to navigate around town, so the logic was to be in as many places as possible to reach as much of the audience as possible.”

The gallery, which specializes in mid-career and emerging artists, often with a pop-sensibility or street-art flair, will kick off the week tomorrow with a private preview event at its flagship location at the Epic hotel in downtown Miami, then head up the bay for Art Miami, where it will be manning Booth AM337. Later in the week, Avant will open COLLECTA, a special exhibition held across several interconnected locations in Miami Beach.

Jacqueline Suowari, Bin Dunmou Tua Owei (2018). Courtesy of Avant Gallery.

Across these events, the gallery will show new works by some of its most notable artists, including the emoji-riffing sculptor Lina Condes, Buenos Aires-born street artist BNS, and abstract painter Florian Eymann.

Jacqueline Suowari, a Nigerian ballpoint pen artist, will make her US debut at the gallery with a series of portraits that mix graphic, black-and-white figures in front of vibrant bands of color. Landscape architect-turned-sculptor Will Kurtz will introduce a new installation made entirely of newspaper, depicting Muhammad Ali downing Sonny Liston in 1964. Another architect-cum-artist, Felipe Echeverry—who hoes by the name LaSsO—will show a series of busy canvases that combine disparate symbols to wallpaper-like effect. (At the time of this article’s writing, one of LaSsO’s works has already been bought by a big-name producer in the music industry.)

Skyler Grey, an 18-year-old wunderkind who’s been called the “Fresh Prince of Street Art,” will present a series of paintings that mash up pop cultural icons and symbols of couture fashion to witty effect. In a string of works titled Mickey’s Chanel Party, for instance, the eponymous Disney character is depicted as Karl Lagerfeld—down to the shades and silver-white ponytail—selling Chanel-branded pills from a tin can.

Skyler Grey, Mickey x Karl’s Party Can in Red (2018). Courtesy of Avant Gallery.

Finally, Miami-based photographer and graphic artist Santlov has taken over the Kimpton Surfcomber Hotel on the beach to install a playful new body of work on the walls of the main lobby. Titled “ToysRLikeUs,” the exhibition features canonized paintings reimagined with figures culled from contemporary pop culture. Superman and Batman hang ten on Hokusai’s The Great Wave off Kanagawa, for example, and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles stroll along the bridge in Monet’s The Water Lily Pond while wearing Air Jordans.

For all the events, this year’s Miami Art Week is also marked by a time of change and expansion for the once small gallery. “Over the course of the past year we’ve refined our roster with more of a global mindset,” says Prut. “Now we love seeing some of our international clients come down to our neck of the woods to check out what’s new.”

Dmitry Prut at Avant Gallery’s flagship location. Courtesy of Avant Gallery.

Indeed, Miami’s home-field advantage is less pronounced for Avant these days, as it now calls several locations home. In addition to its base at the Epic Hotel, it also operates a retail shop in Aventura, Florida, and an outpost at the Four Seasons Jumeirah Resort in Dubai.

And the gallery is still not done expanding. This spring, it will open up a space in the rapidly redeveloping Hudson Yards area in New York.

“New York will always be considered the world’s epicenter for art, at least in our lifetime,” says Prut, who grew up in New York. “So when an opportunity came up to open at the forthcoming Hudson Yards, what’s being billed as the new heart of New York, for me it was a no-brainer. I’m ecstatic.”

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