I walk around Art Basel 2021 and there is a lot of excitement in the air. I capture snapshots of conversation as I move between merchant screens, revealing the level of enthusiasm and excitement: “What is the artist really trying to say with this piece? “These combinations of colors and textures work quite well”; “I would definitely be happy with that on my wall.”
Art Basel is the time for major international galleries to meet their existing clients, new collectors and art lovers who come together to discover exhibitions covering all media and means of expression. This year is the first in-person Art Basel show since the pandemic. Yet – given that we’ve all pretty much gotten used to the ‘new normal’ – not much has changed other than wearing face masks, COVID-19 certificates, and digital admission tickets.
From 20e From masters of the century to artists of today, there is a range of refreshing and sometimes challenging works to capture. The creativity shown by each gallery in curating their individual exhibition space leads to delight and often surprise at every turn and to appreciate how the careful grouping of genres can create something even greater.
So many things caught my attention and made me stop to appreciate them even more. My highlight, however, was seeing the smaller work of British visual artist David Shrigley for his artistic collaboration with Ruinart, the official champagne partner of Art Basel. From a distance this is just an irregular black circle with a tiny image inside and a bold caption above that says “SEARCH CLOSER”.
To satisfy my curiosity, I needed a magnifying glass to reveal the cutest billboard on a small post with the caption: “Please don’t destroy the world”. It’s simple, creative, and eye-catching and gets the point across with humor too. I love this kind of sweet reminder of how we all need to focus with real intention on the threat our climate faces.
The work among others (as a virtual art experience in collaboration with Acute Art App) was presented at the VIP Art Basel Lounge in Ruinart.
Another partner of Art Basel is UBS, which is once again the main sponsor of the show. It presents works from its own corporate collection under the theme “Reimagining: A Better World”. The bank wants to highlight the power of art to bring about change and find new ways to present key messages on climate change, the environment and racial equality. Works are exhibited in the UBS Lounge (also available online until the end of November) and in the UBS Art Studio. Here, the artist collective “Ghost of a Dream” has placed three solar panels to show footage from the short film “Fast Forward” featuring 300 global voices calling for a more regenerative world.
You expect to meet the big names at Art Basel, so I was delighted to see Anish Kapoor’s “Random Triangle Mirror” presented by Regen Projects of Los Angeles. This British Indian sculptor who has lived in London since the 1970s shaped steel and resin to produce this visually striking image. Kapoor likes to rely on geometry and mathematical logic in his work and this “mirror” seems to move with the viewer and seems almost ready to start spinning its distinctive shapes and colors.
I was also drawn to the exhibition at the Hauser & Wirth Gallery of “Wits’ End Mash (get under my skin)” by Roni Horn, which contains a scramble of graffiti-style scripts commenting on the banality of language and our addiction. excessive use of language. it’s tired and cliché. Using different styles of graffiti tags shows that we all fall into the same language traps.
Continuing the theme of graffiti, the “tuxedo” by Jean-Michel Basquiat. Created in 1982, it reminds us that the artist is a true pioneer of street art, capable of shocking and engaging. This book presents a sort of flowchart of links – some real and some imaginary. In view of the crowds that surround it, it is a work that remains as relevant today as it was when it was created.
SEANKELLY New York presented “Radiant Being VI” by Mariko Mori at Art Basel. It is of an impressive scale and I found it to have hypnotic qualities which made it difficult to walk away from it. The brightness of the interior light source adds a playful element to the surrounding color spectrum, so that the iridescence seems to emanate from the inner eye as it looks at the world around it.
The Thomas Zander Gallery presents a beautiful exhibit from “See No Evil” by Joe Goode. For me there was real joy in the texture of oil painting and there was something quite touching about seeing this medium used with so much panache. There is drama and depth to the mix of blues and whites.
There is a poignant element with the “Red Sumac” by American sculptor Alexander Calder. Visitors to Art Basel can’t help but stare at this smoothly rotating mobile made from metal, wire and paint. It serves as a framework for the surrounding works and its movement invites us to look around and above.
I was quite impressed by the apparent naivety of Andi Fischer’s “Zeus und Neptun Beide enorm” exhibited at the Sies + Höke gallery. It is hard not to smile at what is presented here with its exuberance, the boldness of the colors and the warmth of the representation.
Rirkrit Tiravanija is an artist who does not hesitate to issue a call to action. The mirror background of his bold proclamation makes us reflect on ourselves and the world behind us, in front of us and all around us. I love the simplicity of the statement and the fact that it gave me something more to think about as I left the Art Basel buzz behind me.