Words by Aban Sonia
One of the most influential traveling art fairs recently invaded New York City bringing a splash of color back into glib Gotham. Rightfully titled, SCOPE successfully unites the world’s most inventive artists, curators, and their galleries under one roof to provide a closer look into relevant contemporary works, while embracing multiple disciplines. Globetrotting collectors and art enthusiasts alike travel from all over to engage and exchange their love for boundless creativity all the while procuring “modest” purchases that would make both the prince and the pauper blush.
I began my journey into this aesthetic wonderland with a Primary Projects‘ installation by Kenton Parker. With his latest piece, “The Infinity Trophy Room,” a site-specific showcase of lifetime achievements and disappointments, Parker displayed a limitless illusion, leading folks into a mirrored hall-of-fame that grasped at your eager inner-child. He evoked an aire of comic relief cleverly disguised as victory through laughable one-liners engraved into specific works. New and old, each statue rendered unorthodox scenes still immensely relevant to our current social setting, while it encapsulated a new perspective on the otherwise elitist winner’s circle.
Making my way through the fair, I stopped to chat with East Hampton gallerist Eric Firestone about the incredible photos he chose to exhibit of a young Warhol and Basquiat captured by photographer Tseng Kwong Chi. Personally, I loved Firestone’s curation, he managed to retain the freshness of today’s craft with mixed media works from Retna, Andrew Schoultz, and Faile while incorporating an added touch of intimacy from the aforementioned contemporary greats.
Another memorable show was presented by the Corey Helford Gallery based in Culver City, California. Helford’s director Sherri Trahan gave me a tour of their current works, highlighting our recent Art Crush, Nataly “Kukula” Abramovitch. The show included the incredibly talented Sarah Folkman, Eric Joyner, legendary graffiti writer Risk, and brilliant illustrations by Ray Caesar.
From across the waters, Belfast’s Golden Thread Gallery displayed Ireland’s talented Deirdre McKenna. Her dioramic miniature funeral scene was described as a personal vehicle of escapism. She explained how the old superstition of giving a loved one a watch or time piece symbolized a death of sorts, this inspired her to create her own moment of passing within this surreal pocket-sized setting. Joined with Ursula Burke’s daring porcelain figures, and the astounding Jenny Keane’s drawings utilizing her own blood, saliva, and graphite on Fabriano paper, each piece boasted undeniable creativity with a cheerful play on mortality and human vulnerability.
Soon after, I visited with Montreal-based Art Mûr which featured architecturally advanced sculptural works in 3-D print by Guillaume Lachapelle and an awe-inspiring glass installation by Simon Bilodeau. Not to be ignored, Renato Graza Cervera’s work was also on display. Art Mûr’s representative took a moment and detailed a bit of backstory on each artist and their work. Cervera’s story stuck with me throughout the day, we discussed his earlier works created sometime between 2005-2007 (not shown at Scope). Renato created sculptures from “skinned” MS13 gang members, similar to rugs comprised of excoriated animal skin. After we spoke I continued my research, the findings led me to images of the supposed MS13 members depicted with fully tattooed bodies and exaggerated antagonistic expressions still throwing up their “westside” hand gestures. Frightful, humorous, and revealing, all in the same glance, each sculpture conveyed a sense of powerlessness to an otherwise menacing figure in our society, and needless to say, I was sold. Cervera did however show his famed piece “Escape” at the show, the impressive sculpture shows an alternate ending to a well-known tale where a daring Jesus makes his getaway from the cross, I found this to be incredibly clever and well executed. No pun intended.
After spending two full days frolicking between galleries, I seemed to have gathered quite a bit of eye candy for you.. Stay tuned for a fresh batch of art crushes to satisfy your aesthetic sweet tooth!