Written by: Javier Montes de Oca
Miami, the sunshine state of the United States, is the nexus between North America and Latin America. Precisely because of this geographical and cultural duality, the renouned swiss gallery Art Basel, with its headquarters in Basilea, has selected Miami since 2002 for its annual fair in the american continent.
Thus, for this fourteenth consecutive edition of Miami Art Basel, the best of contemporary art, both in famous artists as in new generations, has exhibited its creations for three intense days (December 3rd to 6th) at the Miami Beach Convention Center. Artists and leading galleries from all over the world have contributed with their paintings, sculptures, installations, photography and movies shown in the hall. This fair makes it possible to find, in a single location, young artist’s artwork, in the Espace Nova, to masterful artwork of museum category.
Nevertheless, the contemporary art fair hasn’t stopped in their own 46500 square meters. For artistic performances, large-scale artwork and movie screeenings, they’ve also added other locations, such as nearby beaches, the Collins Park and the Soundscape Park, that has their own cinema festival.
According to the organitzation, over seventy thousand visitors met at the sunny city of Florida to appreciate and acquire the work of over 4000 artists, coming from 267 international galleries.
The rest of Miami got dressed up in contemporary art with more than twenty extra art shows. Some of the shows that stand out the most are: Design Miami, an international showcasing of furniture and lamp design; Aqua Art, an innovative festival for young emerging galleries; Art Miami, one of the most important art festivals in the US; and the Satellite Show, an experimental and alternative festival.
Comissioned by curators Nicholas Baume, David Gryn and Marian Masone, the fourteenth edition of Art Basel Miami featured, amongs others, the famous japanese arquitect Kengo Kuma, who elaborated two mobile pavillions for the Design Miami.
Thanks to the french gallery Philippe Gravier, Kuma explored the old legacy of japanese culture with modern audacious shapes. The ‘Oribe Tea House’ pavillion looks like a ceremonial bowl shaped as a cocoon, made of 5mm plastic panels, building a unique mobile tea house. The second pavillion, ‘Hojo-an after 800 years’, is an interpretation of a japanese compact house. The 3x3x3 meter artwork is made of polymer sheets, arranged to look like a humble cabin, the hojo, one of the first room shapes in Japan.
‘Oribe Tea House’ – Kengo Kuma
‘Hojo-an after 800 years’ – Kengo Kuma
Another big hit was the ‘Unbuilt Pavillion’, made by architecture students from Harvard. It consists of a metal structure crowned by 200 blocks of foam, each of which represents architectural landscapes and urban planning. Its intense pink color aims to contrast against the Caribbean blue sky. Each foam model was sent digitally by a different student, so the structure can be considered as a collaborative art piece.
‘Unbuilt Pavilion’ – Harvard
We should also keep in mind the creative work of brazilian brothers Fernando and Humberto Campana, who have shocased their leather furniture colleccion ‘Cangaço’, inspired in the clothing of outlaw cangaceiros who lived in northeastern Brazil in the XIX Century. Featuring steel, leather and wicker, these furniture artisans have been able to transfer these bandits’ outfits to turn them into a beautiful collection of an armchair, a bookcase, a closet, a chair and a sofa.
‘Cangaço’ – Fernando y Humberto Campana
Spanish presence gets stronger.
Some well-established spanish galleries have been present at the Art Basel Miami fair, especially from Madrid and Barcelona. Elvira González, Elba Benítez and Leandro Navarro, from the capital; and ProjecteSD, from Barcelona. In the same way, several spanish artists have shown their work through foreign firms.
Horse Mag has interviewed Elvira González Gallery, placed in Madrid’s central neighbourhood, Chueca, which, since twenty two years ago has exhibited several european and american artists from the second half of the XXth Century; specially those that develop the most contemporary trends.
Elvira González Gallery
Elvira González, who has attended the Miami fair since its first edition, and has been part of its general program solely because of their great trajectory, program and the quality of their artists.
Isabel Mignoni, gallery coordinator, points out how they are showcasing a retrospective on New York’s artist Robert Mangold (1966-2005), in a way of appreciating their work with the gallery, giving him the opportunity of showing his artwork under the name of the renouned international fair. Mangold blends classic composition elements in order to create abstract artwork in an architectural scale.
Four Color Frame Painting #15 (in 4 parts) , 1985 Robert Mangold
About the fair’s environment, Mignoni confesses that “Art Basel Miami has become the world’s best art fair after its Swiss edition, because all of the north and southamerican collectors that come to it, and also several european and asiatic galleries.” He also ensures that this XIV edition “has had a very high selling level.”
Elvira González Gallery, that is also featured year after year in Swiss’s Art Basel, London’s Frieze Masters, Paris’ FIAc and Mexico’s Zona MACO, is currently busy with their most inmediate project: Madrid’s sculptor Juan Muñoz, which will be featured in their gallery until March 12th.
We’ve also been able to talk to Elba Benítez, artist and director of Madrid’s Elba Benítez Gallery, who for twenty-five years has embraced contemporary art media such as sculpture, painting, photography, videography, installations and performances.
Galería Elba Benítez
The gallery named after the renouned canarian, is outstanding because it makes art interact with disciplines such as architecture, cinema, tourism or urbanism.
In Art Basel Miami they’ve shown Stand K8, a compendium of several pieces of artwork made by Armando Andrade Tudela, Carlos Bunga, Fernanda Fragateiro, Carlos Garaicoa, Cristina Iglesias ans Natalia Załuska.
Elba Benítez ratifies their participation in the 2016 editions of ARCOMadrid, Frieze Art New York y SP-Arte de São Paulo.
The future edition of this consecrated fair will take place between December 1st and 4th, and will be celebrating its fiteenth birthday as the art fair that attracts all the avant-garde of contemporary art in the epicenter of the american continent.