March 19, 2013

Art Fair Hopping by Richard Solomon

The weekend of March 9th was art fair time in NYC. Many fairs were going on simultaneously around town and I had the pleasure to attend two.

The first was Fountain Art Fair featuring many up and coming artists showing at a diverse mix of worldwide galleries. My favorite pieces were done by Orlando Arocena, an artist that wears many hats including creative director, fine artist, illustrator and brand consultant.

His work has a clean graphic simplicity that evokes 30s mural art which was so popular in large scale environments at that time. He had on display 6 works which explore the combination of traditional and contemporary aesthetics, a "mash-up" of influences from Advertising and the Cultural arts – delivered through a digital medium called Vector.
Orlando Arocena

My second stop was also at an armory, the Park Avenue Armory. This show was a far cry from Fountain, having been organized by the Art Dealers Association of America, a trade association of the nations leading galleries. Many of the works are by heavy hitters of the contemporary art world as well as the greats of the 20th century. I have picked two pieces that I would love to have in my home. Incidentally they both came from the Mary-Ann Martin | Fine Art.

My eye was immediately riveted on a large rather dark oil portrait of a very intense looking man. I couldn't take my eyes off this piece… So Strong and unforgiving, turns out it was a self-portrait of the great Mexican Artist, David Alfaro Siqueiros.

David Alfaro Siqueiros
Note from Mary-Ann Martin | Fine Art:
"Excerpt from the catalogue for Portrait of a Decade: David Alfaro Siqueiros,1930-1940 by James Oles, 1997: “The inscription on this solemn self-portrait indicates that it was painted in Taxco in March 1930, just prior to the artist’s incarceration in Lecumberri, Mexico’s federal penitentiary. Siqueiros was therefore familiar with the remote colonial town, located in the mountainous state of Guerrero, before moving there after his release in November.

In this work, the artist places himself within an awkward and claustrophobic interior; his head is framed by the corners of two unadorned walls that jut deeply into the background. Similar spaces appear in the portrait of Moisés Sáenz and Emiliano Zapata, and in Proletarian Mother, although the walls here are much more simply articulated. In each case, however, the juxtaposition of the human figure with architecture increases the relative scale, and thus the solidity and monumentality of the subject.

Siqueiros wears a blue work shirt, the costume of a man who a few years before had organized his fellow muralists into a ‘syndicate’ of craftsmen, and who had just spent several years as a union activist among miners and peasants in the state of Jalisco. The shirt is thus symbolic of his role as a member of the proletariat, rather than of the artistic elite of the capital. His deeply tanned features are also indicative of a life spent outside of the ivory tower. The crossed position of his arms, reminiscent of the pose of ancient Egyptian kings, serves to distance the subject from his audience. Indeed, this is the only self-portrait in which Siqueiros revealed so much of his own body. The look of confidence, however, would appear repeatedly in his self-representations throughout the decade.” "

Isabel De Obaldia

The other work was a sculpture that at first glance looked like it had been unearthed from an archeological dig, taken from a lost civilization. This sculpture was done by Isabel De Obaldia, a contemporary artist living and working in the Canal Zone inside Panama. This work is entitled "Blue Idol" and touched a strong cord in me.

I have passed the stage of analyzing why or how artwork "gets to me". But these three works stopped me in my tracks and that is what wonderful art does. It stops you in your tracks.


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