Basel 2010
The Highs and Lows

Issue no4
Aug - Sept 2020

Art Basel and the concurrent fairs like Liste and Volta did not bring any jaw dropping experiences, but the quality of the works shown was fair to good. Museum shows were excellent; Basquiat at the Fondation Beyeler was brash and powerful, Gonzales Torres in the same venue was serene and extremely moving. Rodney Graham’s ‘Through the Forest’ at the Kunstmuseum was both intellectual and diverting. Only Matthew Barney at the Schaulager disappointed with an overproduced and self-celebratory bore of a show.

Of the few solo’s at Art Basel there was one standout: Gedi Sibony at Greene Naftali. With his use of cheap materials and make-shift aesthetics he produced the perfect antidote to all the high gloss polish abounding at the fair. Another solo by Billy Childish at Neugerriemschneider of anachronistic expressionist paintings was a commercial success, but the question remains who is buying into this hoax? The wooden floor of the booth, designed by Jorge Pardo, deserved more attention than any of the paintings.

The critique that there was a dearth of women artists at booths at Art Basel holds true. Buyers seem to be most confident with artists with museum records, solo exhibitions and works in permanent collections and these happen to be mainly male and white. The dealers who cater for this market are not in the game for any fast changes. Fortunately at Art Statements there was a larger contingent of women artists. In this respect at Liste, Galerie Juliette Jongma stood out with a large presentation of two women artists, namely Melissa Gordon and Nina Yuen. At Volta, Galerie Christian Lethert caught the eye with large works by Nelleke Beltjens and Jorinde Voigt.

An interesting trend was how often one came across artworks using stones, rocks or mortar, be it at Liste, Volta or Art Basel itself. Maybe some artists want to remind us that there is still a crisis going on and that we should keep ourselves grounded. There were however few politically inspired works to be seen, Goshka Macuga being one of the more interesting exceptions.

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Museum Boijmans van Beuningen in Rotterdam bought ‘Rotating Kitchen’, a videowork by Zeger Reyers from Galerie Maurits van de Laar at Scope and director Sjarel Ex was seen discussing a work by Elizabeth McAlpine at Laura Bartlett at Art Statements.

Another highlight is the site-specific work Lara Almarcegui made for Art Statements at Ellen de Bruijne Projects. It would be a perfect artwork to remain on site somewhere in the Messe building.

Other highlights:

Low points

The low points consisted mainly of works concerning bees, birds, fish, snails, mice and the superficial and random use of the American Flag.

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Metropolis M Magazine for contemporary art No 4 — 2020