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The artists bringing the heat to Art Basel Miami

Miami takes centre-stage showcasing everything from reimagined pop art to alien-like installations from up-coming fine artists

It’s one of the human world’s most colourful, modern day, micro-migrations. In the first week of December of every year, the art world descends on Miami Beach for Art Basel Miami Beach and the dizzying range of young, wannabe rival fairs that have sprouted up in its shadow. From discreet European billionaires looking out of place amidst the Latino bling, to desperate crowds trying to force entry into exclusive art parties, to the variety of art installations and performances dotted along the ocean front, the spectacle of the art world temporarily grafted onto the hot mess that is Miami Beach is a truly thing to behold. Buried underneath all that wealth, naked ambition and partying, is the thing-in-itself – the art. Dazed previews the best new art that’s being shown at the best fairs – NADA at The Fontainebleau hotel and Untitled, operating from a vast tent-cum-hanger right on the beach as well as Art Basel Miami Beach itself.


One of the most awesome projects being shown in Miami this year comes in the form of the brilliantly strange and compelling 'A Wonderful World Under Construction' by (originally Arab-Gulf based) art collective GCC which mixes up the languages of marketing, politics and art. The project, manifested in the form of obscenely corporate looking videos, printed materials along with taking critical and satirical aim at the sinister rise of nation-state branding campaigns. Following the pervasive logic of the consumer capitalism, nations and government bodies everywhere are morphing into branded, quasi-corporations, subjecting their citizens-cum-clients to vapid and insidious marketing campaigns that threaten to erase all memory of the social contract on which the relationship between individual and state was once meant to be built. A typically, iconoclastic offering from the project driven with curatorially innovative London space.


Fresh from their success at Frieze with Samara Scott’s ephemeral and chromatic installation of detritus, Peckham based gallery The Sunday Painter is bringing a mixed booth of London talent to Miami. Scott shows a series of softly beautiful, large, mural-like paintings of domestic scenes executed on the execrable medium of contract carpet – the stuff that covers the floors of call centers. Rob Chavasse, contributes a work that, symbolically, aims to plunge the whole fair into darkness – a sculpture that comprises of a crazy, short-circuiting, interconnected profusion of extension cables and sockets, plugged into one the fair’s - a network going nowhere that threatens to drain all its surroundings of power. Painter Neil Rummings, meanwhile, raises the humble nail to the status of a ‘sign’, in his semiotically sophisticated paintings.


Showing at Art Basel’s Nova section, the San Francisco gallery’s preference toward elegant and sophisticated work promises to on full display with a curated booth bringing together work by Julian Hoeber, Ian Wallace and Susanne M. Winterling – all linked by an interest in architectural forms and a focus on the relationship  between the formality and materiality of the built environment and the body. Promising to be especially beautiful are Winterling’s sometimes dream-like wallpaper and photographic works that manage to fuse our perceptions of inside and outside – the bodily and chemical, the urban and rural.


Founded in October 2013 in Paris’ 20th arrondissement, High Art is an experiment in how to run a gallery with founders Jason Hwang, Romain Chenais and Philippe Joppin – attempting to bring their roles as curators, artists and dealers, usefully together. Somehow the experiment is working. At NADA, High Art, brings a spread of young American talent, with an especially strong showing of L.A. based artists like Pentti Monkkonen, Dena Yago (founding member of trend forecasting group K-Hole) and Nathan Zeidman with his amazing series of paintings of L.A. street scenes.


Jasmin Tsou the founder of New York’s JTT has a soft spot for NADA. Her gallery started when curator Matthew Higgs encouraged her to put together a project for the 2011 edition of the fair. Income from that first successful outing allowed her to found her gallery in the Lower East Side – a story that proves a nice exception to the usual one of art fair fees crippling young galleries. Among highlights of JTT’s booth this year are two sculptures from Charles Harlan’s Tree series - serious, ambitious formalist sculptures (surprising for this day and age) that combine found materials, wood and industrial building materials with massive tires. The effect being an oddly subtle fusing of material, form and feeling.


A love of fluidity and complexity seems to be the organizational principle at Lodos gallery. Originally started in an apartment in Chicago in 2012 by a whole group of artists, curators, and writers, Lodos moved to Mexico City in 2013 and is currently directed by artist Francisco Cordero-Oceguera. At NADA, Lodos are staging a project by art and poetry collective Oa4s – itself formed in Mexico City in 2013. Now, dispersing away from their hosts, they are ‘multi-based’ in LA, Amsterdam and Mexico City. At NADA (bravely for an art fair) they’ll be staging a theater-play of sorts called Left in the Dark whose list of characters cryptically includes The Horizon and You.


Hailing from Detroit, where young artists from across the States have flocked to take advantage of rock-bottom real estate prices, artist-run space What Pipeline brings high-concept, New Mexican artist, Puppies Puppies to NADA. Aside from the enormous, impossible-to-miss, inflatable globe made from NASA satellite images, Puppies Puppies will also be showing works from a wall-based sculpture series that manifests the artist’s obsession with the Horseshoe crab, having said in the past: “horseshoe crabs and paintings seem to relate in my mind. They are expressions that have survived the test of time… to understand my fleeting existence but know that humans like me will continue to paint. To breed on the shoreline in shallow water only to propel the existence of my expressions and the expressions to come later on. I feel very deeply for these creatures.” You heard it here first.


London’s Vigo Gallery habitually brings standout solo projects to Untitled Fair, having shown US artists Kadar Brock and Isabel Yellin in previous years. This year, proving old-school is the new, new school, Vigo is showing British painter Daniel Crews Chubb. His full-on, vibrant, painterly paintings, repeat the same, archetypal motif – a couple of boldly and naively rendered figures, male and female, locked in an ambiguous relationship and channel the spirit of a panoply of Modernist masters – with Picasso, de Kooning and CoBRA painters, Asger Jorn and Karel Appel all in the mix. Old, new and very contemporary.  


Operating out of spaces in Brooklyn and Brussels, Clearing have built a roster of varied and exceptional art stars from painter Harold Ancart, to multi-media sensation Korakrit Arunanondchai to experimental photographic artist Ryan Foerster. New arrivals at Clearing, due to be presented at NADA stand include French sculptor Jean Marie Appriou, showing two strangely delicate life-sized astronauts, with bodies made from cast aluminum and helmets from blown glass and works by the late, great Eduardo Paolozzi – the first Pop Artist – in whose work there has been a recent, definite reappraisal and renewal of interest.


Paris gallery Joseph Tang, one of the more radical and experimental spaces around, brings two Berlin based artists to NADA. Painter Alexander Lieck exhibits a handful of his surreal, minimal and formalist canvases that feature naively rendered eyes, floating in space alongside lines and passages of red and blue paint. Latvian artist Dagia Grantina, meanwhile, shows a typically hybrid object that sticks out of the wall on an armature. Made up of fused layers of transparent, metal materials, cables and partially illuminated by a few LED’s that studded its surface. It is an alien thing, seeming, almost alive, with a strangely powerful organic presence.