Cool doesn’t look so hot at the art fairs

Bruce Wilhelm
Two of Bruce Wilhelm’s low-tech-looking videos at ADA Gallery

I was definitely stunned by art overload at the fairs last weekend. But here’s my biggest art thought on what’s going on. Videos and technology are in rebellion against high-tech. The chill is gone. On the other hand, paintings are increasingly high tech looking, thanks to the glisten of resins and other shiny media. In fact they’re so thick and object-like that they’re starting to look like sculpture. And sculpture hasn’t really come down on either side, with low-tech cardboard and carving and ceramics and high-tech resins and electronics.

It was the video rebellion that charmed me most. In Bruce Wilhelm’s videos-in-a-box at ADA Gallery, the box hid the shiny Moderne-ity of the video equipment, and the content was a very very short loop of repetitive actions based on drawings. The actions made me think video game, but the non-computer-generated imagery made me think good old fashioned drawing. On a similar note–but less coherent–Francesca Caporali enclosed her videos of women sweeping out a church in loving little altars at Leo Bahia Arte Contemporanea. Both of these were at SCOPE.

Christine Rebet
by Christine Rebet

We also saw a couple of old-fashioned movie projectors. My favorite of these was used for Tell Me About Your Dreams, by Christine Rebet at Galerie Kamel Mennour. The shrink was an avuncular lion who levitates the patient. It looked like traditional cartooning, but I don’t really know.

Brodie Condon
Brodie Condon’s techno holy card

Even some of the techy looking moving images had a low-tech angle, like Brodie Condon’s lurid holy card, with a herky-jerky small repetitive motion hinting at the torture to come, also at SCOPE at Virgil de Voldere Gallery.

Ma Jun
by Ma Jun

The extremity of low tech award definitely goes to Ma Jun at Krampf Gallery (also SCOPE). It involves no motion at all. (Check out the back of the tv here) an his car here. Krampf Gallery is a newbie, only a couple of years old, upstairs in a stacked building, but I’d keep an eye on it.


Charles Stevens
Charles Stevens at Marlborough Chelsea

Painting on the other hand is looking more and more technical and also more and more like sculpture. Charles Stevens had some swell work–obsessive color–that took on sculptural form at Marlborough Chelsea, showing at SCOPE. This one reminded me of African telephone wire baskets as well as straw hats. He also had a swell mappy looking thing.

Since the shiny epoxy things began to repel me after a while, I won’t give you examples. It was the old fashioned stuff that pleased me most–the paintings that looked like paintings.

Jackie Tileston
by Jackie Tileston

Hometown gallery Pentimenti was showing Jackie Tileston at Red Dot–glowing Arcadian dream worlds. Tileston’s work reminds me of Pat Steir, but way more luscious. Also at Pentimenti, the Margaret Murphy paintings of dolls looked fabulous. Both have shows coming up in Philadelphia. (Paintings of dolls was another trend. We saw not one or two but lots and lots).

Alexander Kaletski
Alexander Kaletski’s installation over a bed of painted “posters” at Dillon Gallery

Alexander Kaletski kept it low tech on cardboard at Dillon Gallery, also at Red Dot. He made the area over the bed into a little cardboard gallery, and I thought the whole thing was pretty hilarious. At the same gallery, Cedric Smith’s painting in the hotel hallway didn’t survive my picture taking in the semi-darkness there, but the work was interesting to look at and think about of a kid running errands.

Jenny Brillhart
by Jenny Brillhart

At SCOPE, I fell in love with Jenny Brillhart’s modest-sized painting of a damaged vent in a minimal wall. It was so quiet, there in the back of the gallery display at Kuckei + Kuckei, Berlin, that it was easy to overlook.


Jesse Small
by Jesse Small

The Asian influence is strong in sculpture (and in everything else). So not only were Ma Jun’s ceramic takes on technology hot as I already mentioned, so were Jesse Small’s Asian-influenced ghosts and cartoon talk bubbles, displayed on the bed at Nancy Hoffman Gallery. The imagery on the ghosts is Pac-Man and his video-game peers. Small, an Alfred U. MFA, had a couple of residencies in China last year, and the work breaths that influence. It’s super.

As a rule, ceramic looked surprisingly hip as a rule at the fairs. On the other hand, I can’t say the same for tech art.

Bryce Wolkowitz Gallery
At Bryce Wolkowitz Gallery, Alan Rath made the anthropomorphic red sculpture with moving eyes in the center, and Jim Campbell made the minimalist grid of electronic boards controlling the shifting lights behind it.

Bryce Wolkowitz Gallery showed a whole booth worth of techy sculpture, but all I could think was I wouldn’t want to live with it. It requires too much attention to sit nicely back on the walls, waiting for a quiet moment when you feel like looking.


alexander kaletski, brodie condon, bruce wilhelm, charles stevens, christine rebet, jackie tileston, jenny brillhart, jesse small, ma jun, red dot, scope



Sign up to receive Artblog’s weekly newsletter and updates sent directly to your inbox.

Subscribe Today!