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10 PICKS FROM ART BASEL ONLINE VIEWING ROOMS

Art Basel debuted its digital platform, where 235 galleries showed more than 2,000 pieces. Here we share what caught our eye with 10 highlights.

 

Ha Chong-Hyun

Conjunction 17-89, 2017

at Almine Rech

Ha Chong-Hyun (Sancheong, 1935) came to prominence with his Conjunction series in the early 1970s. These early experiments have led him to build his signature style, pushing the paint from the back to the front of hemp cloth. As a leading member of the movement known as Dansaekhwa, or “monochrome painting”, he has consistently used material experimentation and innovative studio processes to redefine the role of painting, playing a significant role bridging the avant-garde traditions between East and West. Committed to redefining modern art and rejecting mainstream academic trends, Ha developed a process that converted physically demanding studio processes into abstract compositions. In his most recent work, Ha has expanded upon his practice of transforming three-dimensionality into a two dimensional surface by experimenting with new ways to add materiality and a sense of volume to colour.

 

Anish Kapoor

Random Triangle Mirror, 2018

at kamel mennour

Anish Kapoor (Mumbai, 1954) is a British Indian sculptor specializing in installation art and conceptual art. Kapoor has lived and worked in London since the early 1970s when he moved to study art, first at the Hornsey College of Art and later at the Chelsea School of Art and Design. The artist represented Britain at the XLIV Venice Biennale in 1990, when he was awarded the Premio Duemila Prize. In 1991, he received the Turner Prize and in 2002 received the Unilever Commission for the Turbine Hall at Tate Modern. Perhaps most famous for public sculptures that are both adventures in form and feats of engineering, Kapoor manoeuvres between vastly different scales, across numerous series of work. Immense PVC skins, stretched or deflated; concave or convex mirrors whose reflections attract and swallow the viewer; recesses carved in stone and pigmented so as to disappear: these voids and protrusions summon up deep-felt metaphysical polarities of presence and absence, concealment and revelation. Forms turn themselves inside out, womb-like, and materials are not painted but impregnated with colour, as if to negate the idea of an outer surface, inviting the viewer to the inner reaches of the imagination.

 

Zhou Li

La Bleu J'adoré NO.10-Nature, 2020

at Kerlin Gallery

Zhou Li (Hunan, China, 1969) attempts to position herself outside of the usual parameters of perception – a process that is normally accepted as either subjective or objective. Attempting to access an unhindered way of observing and understanding, she considers both her own self and the objects around her as equally valuable to her art; each indivisible one from the other. The duality of perception is challenged as well as that of sensibility and rationality, by prioritising the phenomenological understanding of life – and her own experience of it – over existing concepts or formations.
Zhou says that when she paints she imagines her subject and then communicates with it through her painting. This ‘subject’ could be herself, another person, an event or simply an emotion. Equally, it can derive from a kind of meditation that is stimulated by a particular moment in time or by social or political events. All of this subject matter is then consciously re-perceived as an object, reduced to pure experience based on the relationship between selfhood and the object, beyond established customs or rational rules. Zhou has described this position as akin to ‘the middle of the window’, suggesting that experience shapes consciousness, and she examines both. Through this approach, Zhou attempts to access original thought, which could derive from her experience as a changing entity – the ‘heart’ – or, at the same time, the physical world which shapes it. This inclusive approach, relating to Eastern philosophy of the mind, underpins this exhibition.
Line-making lies at the core of Zhou’s paintings, which incorporate illusory, endless loops and defining blocks of colour that delimit transient, open spaces. Her abstract works can be considered in dialogue with contemporary Western art – in particular, the paintings of Mark Rothko or Cy Twombly – but also with Chinese masters of calligraphy. These include painters such as the 7th-century artist Zhan Ziqian, famous for the earliest blue-green landscape painting Strolling about in Spring, and the 4th-century writer Wang Xizhi, author of Preface to the Poems Composed at the Orchid Pavilion. Suggesting a sense of flow and movement which reflects the artist’s own restless self-examination, in her work Zhou explores the relationship of emotions to perception and the fusion of the logical and illogical within inner consciousness, ideas which lie at the core of ancient Chinese philosophy.

 

Beatriz Milhazes

Flores e Arvores, 2012 - 2013

at Fortes D'Aloia & Gabriel

Beatriz Milhazes (Rio de Janeiro, 1960) is a Brazilian artist that represented Brazil at the 2003 Biennale di Venezia. Milhazes is well known for her vibrantly colorful, kaleidoscopic collages, prints, paintings and installations which draw on both Latin American and European traditions. Milhazes’ rigorously structured compositions are punctuated by a recurring set of arabesque motifs inspired by Brazilian culture, ceramics, lacework, carnival decoration, music, and Colonial baroque architecture. As Milhazes explains, “I am seeking geometrical structures, but with freedom of form and imagery taken from different worlds.” The artist has also cited opera, classical and Brazilian popular music as having informed the upbeat energy of her stripes, lines, circular forms, and rays. The careful balance of harmony and dissonance in her work, combined with her Technicolor palette, are evident of the strong influence by such 20th century masters as Tarsila do Amaral, Oswald de Andrade, Matisse, Kandinksy and Delaunay. Milhazes has stated “I need to have all these elements and put them together. They are in some sort of a conflict that will never really end up anywhere. There are not peaceful surfaces. There should be some struggle on the surface and then create some activities for your eyes” (Interview with Beatriz Milhazes, RES Art World/World Art, No. 2 May 2008). As the Fondation Cartier further explains, Milhazes’ “use of intensely vibrant colors, such as fuchsia, gold or orange, endows her canvases with an explosive energy that many have compared to the breathtaking rhythm of fireworks.”

 

Georg Baselitz

Arriva: La scuola di Lucio, 2019

at Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac

Georg Baselitz (born 23 January 1938) is a German painter, sculptor and graphic artist. In the 1960s he became well known for his figurative, expressive paintings. In 1969 he began painting his subjects upside down in an effort to overcome the representational, content-driven character of his earlier work and stress the artifice of painting. Drawing from myriad influences, including art of Soviet era illustration art, the Mannerist period and African sculptures, he developed his own, distinct artistic language. The artist was born, as Hans-Georg Kern, in Deutschbaselitz, Germany. He grew up amongst the suffering and demolition of World War II, and the concept of destruction plays a significant role in his life and work. These autobiographical circumstances have therefore returned throughout his whole oeuvre. In this context, the artist stated in an interview: "I was born into a destroyed order, a destroyed landscape, a destroyed people, a destroyed society. And I didn't want to reestablish an order: I had seen enough of so-called order. I was forced to question everything, to be 'naive', to start again." By disrupting any given orders and breaking the common conventions of perception, Baselitz has formed his personal circumstances into his guiding artistic principles. To this day, he still inverts all his paintings, which has become his unique and most defining feature in his work.

 

Wang Yancheng

Untitled (W5), 2019 

at Acquavella Galleries

Since his early training as a representational artist, Wang Yan Cheng has developed a deep understanding of painting in terms of structure, color and technique. In recent years he has frequently gone beyond the “abstract.” He hopes to merge Eastern and Western aesthetic development, to guide people away from traditional concepts, and to feel the artist’s love for creation. Wang Yan Cheng’s foundation is never a pure canvas in the metaphoric sense. He has reached beyond the canvas with various methods to make the works “immersed and cultivated.” Using his ideas, he is able to exercise artistic control over his medium; his paintings thus inhabit a wonderful place between inevitability and chance and achieve “imperfect perfection.” Born in 1960, after graduating from Shandong University of Arts, Wang Yan Cheng went to Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing to complete his academic art education in China. Later in 1989 he traveled to France and studied at Jean Monnet University (Saint-Étienne), where he was able to broaden and expand his creative vision of art. In the past 30 years, Wang Yan Cheng has traveled from the East to the West and has returned from the West to the East. Over time, he has found a profound affinity between Oriental philosophy and Western science and pushed his paintings to engage micro and macro themes.

 

Park Seo-Bo

Ecriture No.010521, 2001

at Johyun Gallery

Park Seo-Bo (Yecheon, Gyeongbuk, 1931) is widely considered one of the leading figures in contemporary Korean art. Credited as being the father of the ‘Dansaekhwa’ movement. Park was part of a generation that was deeply affected by the Korean War (1950–53) which divided the country into North and South. After experimenting with Western abstraction, particularly the style of ‘Art Informel’ with which he became familiar during his time in Paris in 1961, Park began to explore a more introspective methodology that had its origins in Taoist and Buddhist philosophy and also in the Korean tradition of calligraphy. Park is best known for his ‘Ecriture’ series of paintings. First begun in the late 1960s, this series embrace this spiritual approach and are inextricably linked to notions of time, space and material, concepts which underpin all of the artist’s work. In the early works, Park used repeated pencil lines incised into a still-wet monochromatic painted surface, and the later works expand upon this language through the introduction of hanji, a traditional Korean paper hand-made from mulberry bark, which is adhered to the canvas surface. This development, along with the introduction of colour, enabled an expansive transformation of his practice while continuing the quest for emptiness though reduction.

 

Rodrigo Matheus

Moeda | Coin, 2018

at Fortes D'Aloia & Gabriel

Rodrigo Matheus (Sao Paulo, 1974) lives and works in Paris. Matheus incorporates mundane things, at once immediately recognizable yet divorced from their original purpose, in an operation of forced obsolescence that underscores the aesthetic and narrative potential of objects. Moeda is a kinetic sculpture composed of hundreds of golden sequins. The seductive aspect of the circles and their enticing reflection contrasts with the harmful nature of the grid made of bird spikes, an architectural device to prevent animals from landing on windowsills.

 

El Anatsui

Metas III, 2014

at Acquavella Galleries

El Anatsui was born in 1944 in Anyako, Ghana, a citizen of the Ewe Nation and son of a master weaver of Kente cloth. He acquired art training at the College of Art, University of Science and Technology in Kumasi, one of the highest ranking universities in Ghana. He is one of the most highly acclaimed artists in African History and foremost contemporary artists in the world. El Anatsui uses resources typically discarded such as liquor bottle caps and cassava graters to create sculpture that defies categorisation. His use of these materials reflects his interest in reuse, transformation, and an intrinsic desire to connect to his continent while transcending the limitations of place. His work can interrogate the history of colonialism and draw connections between consumption, waste, and the environment, but at the core is his unique formal language that distinguishes his practice. Anatsui is well-known for large scale sculptures composed of thousands of folded and crumpled pieces of aluminium bottle caps sourced from local alcohol recycling stations and bound together with copper wire. These intricate works, which can grow to be massive in scale, are luminous and weighty, meticulously fabricated yet malleable. He leaves the installations open and encourages the works to take new forms every time they are installed.

 

Lucas Arruda

Untitled (from the Deserto-Modelo series), 2018

at David Zwirner

Lucas Arruda (Sao Paulo, 1983) lives and works in Sao Paulo. His work obstinately concentrates on a well-defined theme within the canon of art history in order to examine complex contemporary mental states. His research develops fundamentally around landscape, thinking and experimenting with our capacity of living through the mediation of light and the gaze. Through a powerful and cohesive series of oil paintings, as well as slide projections and light installations, his landscapes exist in the point of tension between abstraction and figuration, between apparition and emptiness. With each gaze, experiences are demarcated in a process of construction and reconstruction of memory, as if the formulation of fields of color touched on the immaterial body of temporal landscapes and experienced sensations. As we move above and below horizon lines, the artist puts us before atmospheres that are charged with visual as well as metaphysical questions. Between sky and earth, the ethereal and solid, the imagination and the reality, a meditative contemplation finds its routine while following an endless, and not always clear, a cycle of sublimation and deposition of matter.