The Armory show, one of New York’s premier contemporary art fairs, opened today with an extraordinary assortment from across the globe. Fears of the coronavirus couldn’t keep people away, and the VIP opening was packed with thousands of art connoisseurs and creative professionals. The social scene’s buzz was almost as dazzling as the art works on display.
With 183 galleries from 32 countries, Armory brings together the leading players on the global contemporary art scene. Entrance, however, is pricey — $55 for general admission.
Below is a sampling of art works that struck my fancy for various reasons. As you know, art is highly subjective, so I will refrain from saying that these are “the best” works at the fair. They simply touched me and I can relate to them, not to mention that they are also clever and visually appealing.
Curro Gallery from Guadalajara, Mexico, has a solo exhibition by Alejandro Almanza Pereda, and it stopped me dead in my tracks. The artworks in his series, “Horror vacui” (fear of empty space), are so incongruent and jarring that many others instinctively gravitated towards it. We all were captivated by the bizarre juxtaposition of classical art and brutal modern concrete. Pereda’s art ponders the interdependence between art and architecture, as well as the violent relation between modern humans and the environment, and our tendency to want to build structures seemingly everywhere.
Moving on, San Francisco-based Christine Wang has a biting satirical work that must have ruffled many liberal feathers at the fair. “Feminist” (2020) is an unflattering critique of modern-day feminism, an ideology that has gone far beyond its noble roots and is now heavily weaponized in the North American political realm.
David Reimondo, a brilliant artist from Milan, had his New York debut with his massive and thought-provoking “Etimografia.” I just happened to see this art work about five years ago when it was still a work in progress. “Etimografia” is an intellectual tour de force, and by far the most cerebral art work at the fair. Artists often like to say that their goal is to create their own visual language. Well, Reimondo has done that, literally. The art work is his years-long research into language, and it features dozens of ideograms, pictograms and glyphs. Each has its own sound and meaning. They’re not letters, but rather concepts; something more like hieroglyphs.
At Dittrich & Schlechtriem Gallery (Berlin) there’s a joyful art work by Alfredo Aceto (“Laughing Window II”), juxtaposed with a surrealistic work by Robert Lazzarini (“Police barricade”), which is inspired by the ubiquitous New York Police Department barricades. The art work seems to be a challenge to authority, perhaps a protest again police brutality, which is sadly quite common in the USA.
The Armory Show’s central piece is Edward and Nancy Kienholz’s spectacular installation, “The Caddy Court”, made about 35 years ago. Featuring an early 1980s vintage American car, it occupies the largest amount of space at the show, and is a hit with social media influencers.
Forsblom Gallery from Helsinki provides a sophisticated touch with its subtle dialogue of two artists: painter Heikki Marila (“Flowers”) and sculptor Emma Helle (“The Faun and the Frog”). Both works are a contemporary twist inspired by the Rocco style of the late 18th century.
Finally, Anna Zorina Gallery has a wonderful solo exhibition by Dominic Chambers, an African-American artist from St. Louis, doing his MFA at Yale University. Utilizing a rich and varied color field Chambers’ paintings explore moments of contemplation and meditation through reading and leisure. The young artist certainly has a great future ahead of him.
The Armory Show runs until March 8, and is located at Pier 90 and Pier 94 on the Hudson River, (Manhattan’s West Side, by 50th Street). For more information: https://www.thearmoryshow.com