The Palm Beach Modern & Contemporary Art Fair 2016
Copyright Vladimir Kagan, January 23, 2016
I wasn’t going to write about this show.
contemporary art has become a science class. Experimentation is the buzzword. 'Putz' around with LED lights; flashing, changing colors, twirling, snaking. There were neon signs of yesterday reinvented. There were three-dimensional ‘paintings’ with appliquéd metal, plastic and paper. There were the tricky paintings intended to fool the eye, trumpe l’oeil. There was art using automotive enamels, a robotic artist painting all day on an electronic canvas, a diminutive Indian artist ‘plucking’ paper. There was manipulated photography and there was the usual infatuation with bare breast. To qualify as a contemporary art, it is fair game to try anything as long as it is different. This produced some interesting stuff, but is it ART?
As for Modern Art? Anything goes. Slap some colors onto a canvas and let it drip, depict humanity as artsy, disfigured bodies, add a samplings of installation art, and there you have The Palm Beach Modern & Contemporary Art Fair 2016… in a nutshell.
In spite of this jaundiced overview, there was some delightful art to enjoy. We found some exquisite pencil and pen drawings, an art form virtually missing in contemporary shows. Sculpture still found its antecedent in tradition. Casting bronze has not changed. The most imaginative experimentations were with glass. Glass is a most time honored material, a molten mass of sand cannot be easy be fooled. The glass artist is wedded to tradition. He or she must respect the material’s limitations. Therefore their experimentations are all the more exciting.
Art is in the eyes of the beholder, one person’s treasure is another’s junk. Below is some of the ‘art’ that I found interesting. I am sure there will be many who will disagree.
The Fernando Botero's lying nude was the first piece of art I encountered on entering the show. Botero is one of my favorite contemporary artists. I love him for glorifying the obese and fat and making them lovable.
This pair of life-sized black children was one of my favorites as the artist caught their youth, despair and wisdom in their faces.
Marek Zynga mixed media sculture is beautifully executed in clay and glazed tiles. You can recognize him as the artist as he and his subject are dressed alike.
I have always loved aboriginal art. This five by five foot painting was done my Esther Giles Nampitjinpa, a diminutive native Australian. To know her is to love her, but you would never associate this little woman with her bigger-than-life-art.
A few miles North of us in Tampa, works Marlene Rose, an amazing artist pouring hot molten glass into sand molds. The ball gown with the decollate is a spoof, but her work is serious. She is doing a job more frequently done by brawny men able to take the extreme heat of the furnaces. Marline has gone back to the ancient art of casting glass as sculpture and her Buddhas, ceremonial bells and ancient relics in a range of colors from subtle to vibrant are amongst the finest works in the show this year.
Marlene and many of the glass examples above, are represented by Habitat Galleries of Royal Oak, Michigan, the finest art glass gallery in America.
I like the growth, simplicity and use of color in this life-size enameled steel sculpture.
I was intrigued by the textile-like character of these wallhangings even before I met Neha Vedpathak, the charming young Indian artist, who created these 'plucked paper' hanging. Her's is a most time consuming task, using Japanese handmade paper, which she laboriously pulls apart with a fine needle, inch by inch.
Two drawings by an Italian artist.
The lightness of line were executed with a minimalist's skill, They were among our favorite in the show.
Quite to my amazement, I found my 1970s Day Bed in mint condition, in the exhibit of The Silver Fund, a gallery on Worth Avenue in Palm Beach. The sofa is covered in the original fabric I had hand woven in Munich at the time. It is a rare example of my lesser-known linear minimalist designs.
Some of the most intriguing avant-garde art came from the ArtLabbe Gallery from Santiago de Chile including the ribbon sculptures below by Solange Heilenkotter and the glass and stone sculptures by Alejandro Herrera.
These slender ribbons of sliced plastic sheets were made by Sollange hellenkotter. Her work was amongst the most original of the new experimental art at the show.
Using thin shards of rigid plastic, this three-dimensional painting was one of the more intriguing works at the show.
Two black marble and glass sculptures were a unique mix of two disparate materials.
...And to finish off the show, the ubiquitous "installation Art"
NOTE: The show closed tomorrow, Sunday afternoon. If you're not stuck in the snow, try and visit this great Art Fair.