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As Singapore’s ART SG Fair Launches This Week, Meet 5 Collectors From Southeast Asia Helping to Shape the Region’s Art Scene


Is Singapore, with its 5.5 million-strong population, big enough to be an art hub of Asia?

When discussing the city state’s position in the global art market, one must not overlook its context in Southeast Asia. In fact, Southeast Asia, which includes the 10 ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asia Nations) member states (Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam), has a population of 640 million (more than European Union’s 446.8 million), with a GDP of $2.55 trillion. It is set to be the fourth largest single market after the U.S., China, and the E.U., and more importantly, it has a young population. It is estimated that the median age of the region will be just 33 years old by 2030.

The promising economic future of Southeast Asia offers a great advantage to Singapore. Recently, the island has attracted renewed interest from the global art world as China, including Hong Kong, was practically cut off from the rest of the world thanks to the government’s zero-Covid policy that only just recently ended. Sotheby’s decision in 2022 to bring live auctions back to the Lion City for the first time in 15 years is another new boon for the region and all eyes are on this year’s Singapore Art Week, which will see the return of the fifth edition of the S.E.A. Focus art fair as well as the long-awaited launch of ART SG. The latter fair, which is finally due to open on Wednesday (January 11) after multiple delays, will showcase more than 150 galleries from 30 countries and regions around the world.

But most importantly, Southeast Asia already has a solid base of collectors who have amassed significant collections that not only demonstrate their sensibilities towards the region’s cultural roots but also speak to their global vision. Here are five collectors (three are couples) based in Southeast Asia that you need to know.

Linda Neo and Albert Lim

Linda Neo and Albert Lim

Linda Neo and Albert Lim. Courtesy of Linda Neo and Albert Lim.

Based in: Singapore

Occupation: Linda Neo and Albert Lim come from a background in the financial markets, the former in oil and gas and the latter in financial instruments. Neo is the chair of OH! Open House, a non-profit organization promoting arts within the community. She is also the chair of the Art Science Council of Mind Art Experiential Lab (MaeLab)—the arts arm of Mind Science Centre—and sits on the advisory board of ART SG.

What’s in their collection: Neo and Lim began their collecting journey with Western and Renaissance art. Over the past 20 years, they have developed a distinctive assemblage of contemporary art that reflects the cultural landscape of Southeast Asia, while resonating with and challenging the geopolitical views of the region at the same time. Their collection includes works by: Genevieve Chua, Daniel Chong, Ian Tee, Jane Lee, Donna Ong, Alvin Ong, and Melissa Tan from Singapore; Erizal, Aditya Novali, Mangu Putra, and Yunizar from Indonesia; Andres Barrioquinto, Marina Cruz, Rodel Tapaya, Leslie Chavez, Norberto Roldan, and Ronald Ventura from the Philippines; and Chan Kok Hooi, Chang Yoong Chia, Pangrok Sulap, and Yee I-Lann from Malaysia.

Distinguishing factor: In 2014, the couple founded Primz Gallery as a private art space to showcase their collections and promote art appreciation and education. The gallery is currently showing “To Begin Again,” a solo exhibition of Singaporean artist Jane Lee, which coincides with Singapore Art Week.

Where they shop: Art fairs such as Art Jakarta, Frieze Seoul and Frieze London, and more events like Paris+ and Asia Now. As they collect mainly Southeast Asian artists, they acquire works from nearly all the Singapore galleries: namely, Cuturi Gallery, Fost Gallery, Gajah Gallery, Ota Fine Arts, Richard Koh Fine Arts, Sundaram Tagore, Yavuz Gallery, and Yeo Workshop. They also buy modern pieces from Art Commune and auction houses.

Recent purchase: Donna Ong’s conceptual piece Four Colors Make a Forest from Fost Gallery and a work titled Ghost, which reflects the mental state of a young girl by the 19-year-old artist Vanessa Liem, purchased from Cuturi Gallery. Both works were acquired in 2022.

Fun fact: Neo and Lim are longtime supporters of Jane Lee. They exhibited their collection of her art for the first time in the 2017 show “Rise & Fall, Ebb & Flow: Works of Jane Lee.” The current exhibition at Primz Gallery features work newly acquired by the couple.

Michelangelo and Lourdes Samsons

Mikey and Lou Samsons. Courtesy of Mikey and Lou Samsons.

Michelangelo and Lourdes Samson at their home with Arin Dwihartanto Sunaryo’s triptych 1874625.5 (2017). Courtesy of Michelangelo and Lourdes Samson.

Age:  Both Michelangelo and Lourdes Samson were born in 1970.

Occupation: Michelangelo Samson is a banker and Lourdes is an independent curator and an arts organizer.

Based in: Singapore and Sydney.

What’s in their collection: Michelangelo and Lourdes Samson have collected Southeast Asian contemporary art for more than two decades. Their collection features paintings, sculptures, installations, and digital media works by established and emerging artists from the Philippines, Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam, Cambodia, Myanmar, and Laos.

It focuses on the various artistic strategies and material concerns of artists in Southeast Asia, shedding light on the common issues and themes these countries share but also celebrating the differences that make each culture unique. Broad themes that the collection engages with include power and politics, identity and the self, and tradition and contemporaneity. It features artworks by internationally renowned Southeast Asian artists like Alfredo and Isabel Aquilizan, Charles Lim, Jane Lee, FX Harsono, Mit Jai Inn, Natee Utarit, Sopheap Pich, Dinh Q. Le, Martha Atienza, and Yee I-Lann, among others.

Distinguishing factor: The couple is actively involved in the Singapore art scene as patrons and collectors, supporting institutions such as STPI gallery and the Singapore Art Museum, where Michelangelo sits on the board. They have loaned works to both local and international institutions, with pieces featuring in shows such as “As We Were,” organized by Seed the Art Space at [email protected] in 2021, and “A Bird Flies Into The Mirror” at Appetite in 2022.

Where they shop: Leading regional galleries, including Silverlens, Yavuz Gallery, STPI, Richard Koh Fine Art, and Roh Projects, as well as art fairs like Art Basel Hong Kong, Art Fair Philippines, Art Jakarta, and S.E.A. Focus.

Fun fact: Michelangelo and Lourdes are originally from the Philippines but have called Singapore home for the past 24 years. The couple recently relocated temporarily to Sydney for work. Aside from the few photographs that fill their Australian apartment, their significant collection of Southeast Asian art remains in Singapore.

Kim and Lito Camacho

Kim and Lito Camacho. Courtesy of Kim and Lito Camacho.

Kim and Lito Camacho. Courtesy of Kim and Lito Camacho.

Age: Both are 67

Occupation: Both are graduates of Harvard Business School. Jose Isidro N. “Lito” Camacho is the managing director and vice-chairman for Credit Suisse Asia Pacific. Previously, he was the Secretary of Finance and the Secretary of Energy for the Philippines. Although Kim Camacho now describes herself being a “full-time art collector,” she was responsible for opening the Sotheby’s representative office in the Philippines in 2001 and founded her own fashion accessories company.

Based in: Singapore and Manila

What’s in their collection: The couple began collecting art in 1981and their nearly 1,000-strong interdisciplinary collection features artists from Japan, America, the Philippines, and other countries in Southeast Asia. Highlights include: some of the most important works by Yayoi Kusama—eight of which are currently on loan to M+ for the artist’s retrospective in Hong Kong; major collections both of Gutai art and of pieces by the American abstract expressionist Alfonso Ossorio; what is believed to be the largest private collection teamLab’s video installations; as well as works by the likes of Tishan Hsu, Carlos Villa, and David Medalla.

“We live with our art collection in our homes in Manila, Singapore, Berlin, and our farm outside of Manila,” Kim Camacho told Midnight Publishing Group News Pro. The couple is now working on a project to catalog their ever-expanding collection, which they intend to pass on to their six children.

Distinguishing factor: The couple plays an active role as patrons for the arts and education. Lito Camacho is the chairman of the University of the Arts Singapore and a member of the board of STPI. Kim Camacho was an advisor to the National Gallery of Singapore (NGS) in 2014 and chaired the art auction for NGS in 2018. Kim has been a trustee of the Yuchengco Museum in Makati since 2005. Both are also members of the Asia Pacific Acquisitions Committee of the Tate in the U.K. They regularly lend works from their collection to institutions, galleries, and biennales around the world, including the National Art Center Tokyo, Newark Museum of Art, and the San Francisco Asian Art Museum.

Where they shop: The couple has acquired works from galleries from around the world as well as from auctions, art fairs, dealers, other collectors, and direct from artists or their family’s estates.

Recent purchase: Two large paintings by Kusama from her “My Eternal Soul” series, as well as a mylar work by Tishan Hsu and the video work Universe of Fire Particles by teamLab.

Fun fact: Kim and Lito Camacho have had many direct encounters with artists over the years. Among their most memorable experiences was spending more than two and a half hours with Kusama. “It was several years ago at her studio, where we saw her working on a painting, marveled at her artworks as she described each one and explained the titles,” they recalled. They brought the artist mooncake (“she enjoyed very much”) and listened to her recite a couple of her own poems.

Nathaniel Gunawan

Nathaniel Gunawan

Nathaniel Gunawan. Courtesy of Nathaniel Gunawan.

Age: 37

Based in: Jakarta and Singapore

Occupation: Nathaniel P Gunawan has a background in private investing and is currently the director of Oasis Waters International— a fast-moving consumer goods company specializing in manufacturing and distributing ready-to-drink water in Indonesia.

What’s in his collection: An avid lover of history and literature, Gunawan is keen on artists “whose practices reveal strange but useful facts of our intricate societies and ourselves,” he tells Midnight Publishing Group News Pro. He has more than 200 works in his collection, but less than half the number of artists, with more than two-thirds originating from Southeast Asia. “I tend to collect in-depth,” he says. Notable focuses include pieces by Agus Suwage, Mella Jaarsma, Yonathan Albert Setyawan, Arin Sunaryo, Robert Zhao Renhui, (Estate of) I Gak Murniasih, Pow Martinez, and Aracha Cholitgul.

Another theme is artists’ impulse to convey mixed, concealed feelings associated with massive urbanization and rapid digitalization, and artists from outside of Southeast Asia such as Chen Ching-Yuan from Taiwan, Kei Imazu from Japan, and Hong Kong’s Lee Kit. He picked those three in particular because their work echoes such impulse, he notes. “To make sure I won’t be lost along the way, I try to write at least one paragraph on each newly acquired work.”

Distinguishing factor: Gunawan is an active art patron in the region. He is currently a member of the board of STPI gallery and a member of Art Jakarta’s Board of Young Collectors. “I am a firm believer in the importance of institutional presence in Southeast Asia and looking to commission a public artwork in Jakarta this year,” he says.

Where he shops: Commerical galleries such as Mizuma Gallery, ROH Projects, Silverlens, Antenna Space, ShugoArts, Empty Gallery, STPI, Various Small Fires, Ota Fine Arts, Yavuz Gallery, Nova Contemporary, Mor Charpentier, Lehmann Maupin, TKG+, Sullivan + Strumpf, Yeo Workshop, Gajah, and A+ Works of Art. Also at air fair like Art Jakarta, Art Basel Hong Kong, S.E.A. Focus, and hopefully at Art SG as Gunawan says he is “excited for its inaugural edition.”

Recent purchase: Untitled (00044 N.O.W.R.F.Y.H.) (2020) by Vunkwan Tam and Nadya Jiwa’s painting Isyarat (2022).

Fun fact: Gunawan is also an award-winning film producer; he is the co-founder and director of Phoenix Films, which focuses on Singapore and Indonesian films. He has already produced four films in Indonesia, in partnership with Palari Films, since 2017. Their most recent project, the action drama Vengeance is Mine, All Others Pay Cash, became the first Indonesian film to win the Golden Leopard at the Locarno Film Festival in 2021. One of his co-producers, Natasha Sidharta, is also a fellow collector. “My hope is to produce further collaborative efforts between the visual arts and film-making in Southeast Asia, perhaps a documentary series on the region’s art collectives, for example,” says the young collector.

Timothy Tan

Timothy Tan. Courtesy of Timothy Tan.

Timothy Tan. Courtesy of Timothy Tan.

Age: 46

Occupation: Italian furniture and lighting distributor

Based in: Manila

What’s in his collection: Tan began collecting about a decade ago, starting with works that are closer to his Southeast Asian roots and expanding to Western, international contemporary art. His collection, primarily paintings with some sculptures, now boasts around 100 works by mid-career and emerging contemporary artists. Prominent names abound in his collection, including Cecily Brown, Tracey Emin, Amoako Boafo, Vaughn Spann, Rashid Johnson, Takashi Murakami, and George Condo.

Distinguishing factor: Tan has quickly become one of the most recognizable faces on the international art scene as he has been spotted jet-setting across the globe for fairs as travel restrictions have eased. He is now working on presenting his collection at two museum shows in Manila in February 2023, running concurrently at the newly-opened Metropolitan Museum of Manila, and the De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde. “The latter show is organized specifically for students,” the collector told Midnight Publishing Group News Pro.

Where he shops: At art fairs such as Paris+, Art Basel Miami Beach, Frieze Seoul, and Frieze London as well as at commercial galleries like Another Gallery, Gagosian, Salon 94, Thaddaeus Ropac, White Cube, Almine Rech, Pilar Corrias. He also buys at auctions, at Midnight Publishing Group, and at art at pop-up shows, Linseed Projects, and Penske Projects.

Recent purchase: The painting The end of august heat (2022) by Li Hei Di and Triple Dive Violet II (2022) by Tunji Adeniyi-Jones. Both pieces were purchased last November.

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In Milan, Miart Returns, With Its New Director Doing Everything—Including Sending Poetry—to Lure Galleries. Here’s How It’s Going


For Milan’s art scene, the twenty-fifth anniversary edition of Miart is an important event. In a city that was hard-hit by the Covid-19 pandemic, the return of the fair has reignited the Italian and specifically Milanese art market with a palpable sense of excitement. Still, Miart’s timing just one week before Art Basel brings its own problems, with several dealers scrambling to do both fairs. Some galleries including Hauser & Wirth, Thaddaeus Ropac, Massimo De Carlo, and Marian Goodman have withdrawn.

In addition to being the first art fair taking place in Milan since Miart’s last edition back in April 2019, this is also the first under new artistic director Nicola Ricciardi, former director of Turin’s art-and-innovation hub Officine Grandi Riparazioni. Held September 17-19 at Milano Convention Centre, it assembles 142 exhibitors, mostly Italian, down from 179 pre-pandemic.

“It’s been extremely challenging to take on the fair in this context, given the earthquake and breakdown of communication between fairs and galleries,” Ricciardi tells Midnight Publishing Group News. “My job was to rebuild the trust of the galleries and dismantle the silence, so in my first two months I called 200 blue-chip and emerging galleries. We decided not to give them a discount but do a smaller fair whilst keeping the same quality before reverting back to April next year.”

While most visitors are Italian, Ricciardi says that “20 American visitors are coming this weekend.”

To “break the silence,” Ricciardi started emailing poems to cultural players. The level of reciprocity inspired him to launch the project “Starry Worlds,” inviting artists having exhibitions in Milan to send verses of their favorite poems that are displayed on screens in the fair’s lounges. “Maurizio Cattelan sent me verses from a Kurdish poet and Simon Fujiwara sent me verses from Shakespeare,” he says.

Opening of Miart 2021. Photo by Paolo Valentini.

Opening of Miart 2021. Photo by Paolo Valentini.

A Packed Calendar

Returning to the newly intense September calendar is a wake-up call for galleries doing Miart and Art Basel back-to-back. “Last year we slowed down a lot but now we’re back in the rhythm of fairs,” says Paola Potena at Lia Rumma, which sold a sculpture by William Kentridge, $250,000-350,000, and a painting by Ettore Spalletti, €120,000, at the opening.

Several dealers echoed this sentiment. “It’s hard for our team and half of us have to leave at the weekend to set up the booth at Art Basel,” laments Astrid Welter, director of Kaufmann Repetto. The gallery is presenting a solo show on Adrian Paci, including paintings (one of which has sold for €20,000) and photography, to coincide with the unveiling of his public sculpture commissioned by ArtLine Milano in the city’s sculpture park on Saturday.

William Kentridge, <em>Processione di Riparazionisti</em> (2019). Photo © Roberto Marossi, Courtesy Galleria Lia Rumma, Milan/Naples.

William Kentridge, Processione di Riparazionisti (2019). Photo © Roberto Marossi, Courtesy Galleria Lia Rumma, Milan/Naples.

Nonetheless, exhibitors are pleased to be back in the swing of things. “It’s not easy, but we have the enthusiasm and adrenaline to do the fairs, and a physical presence is an essential element of our job,” says Michele Casamonti, director of Tornabuoni, which has sold works by Emilio Isgrò, €300,000-400,000, Alighiero Boetti, €100,000, and Mimmo Paladino, €200,000-300,000. “It’s courageous that Miart is doing two fairs in six months.”

The September calendar’s change of pace suggests the adaptability required by galleries during the pandemic. “For the last 18 months, we’ve had to adapt and readapt constantly and nobody knows when this situation will really end,” muses Patrice Cotensin, director of Galerie Lelong (Paris/New York), which has sold a 1970s photograph by David Hockney for €15,000. “We have a lot of Italian clients and everybody is pleased to see each other again,” Cortensin adds.

After a year of online viewing rooms, some galleries are racing around to exhibit in numerous fairs this fall. Miart is one of six in which Galleria Continua is participating, along with Art Paris, Art Shenzhen, Frieze, FIAC, and Artissima. “Our strength is that we are also local galleries, although we have international artists, as we have physical spaces in several cities,” says director Mario Cristiani, who has sold works by Loris Cecchini (€40,000) and Osvaldo González (€6,000). “Now it’s easier to do national rather than international fairs as the local [market] is becoming more important than before.”

Mary Ellen, <em>Because. (DIRTIER THAN STRONG) </em>(1999). © 1999 Mary Ellen Carroll/ MEC studios.Courtesy of the artist and Galerie Hubert Winter. Miart 2021, installation view, photo by Paolo Valentini.

Mary Ellen, Because. (DIRTIER THAN STRONG) (1999). © 1999 Mary Ellen Carroll/ MEC studios.Courtesy of the artist and Galerie Hubert Winter. Miart 2021, installation view, photo by Paolo Valentini.

The Allure of Milan

Certainly, Milanese collectors attended the buzzy preview in droves. Comparing Miart to more international fairs, Franco Calarota, director of Galleria d’Arte Maggiore, remarks, “There’s a fundamental difference between this and other fairs: Milanese collectors take taxis to come here. They don’t need to catch a plane.”

While Miart is missing some of the mega galleries, this edition marks the return of Franco Noero, which has devoted its booth to Lara Favaretto. “Normally Miart clashes with SP-Arte in Brazil in April so we were unable to come for the last few previous editions,” the gallery’s Pierpaolo Falone explains.

Francesca Gabbiani, <em>Surfette 18 (Kassia)</em> (2021). Courtesy Monica De Cardenas, Milan/Zuoz/Lugano.

Francesca Gabbiani, Surfette 18 (Kassia) (2021). Courtesy Monica De Cardenas, Milan/Zuoz/Lugano.

The calendar saturation has led some galleries to opt for Miart over Art Basel. “We prefer to support our city and not travel at the moment,” says Monica de Cardenas, whose gallery has sold works by Francesca Gabbiani (for €5,000), Gideon Rubin, and Zilla Leutenegger.

“Normally we participate in Liste but we’re not doing it this year as we’re waiting to enter the main fair,” says Lodovico Corsini, director of Clearing (Brussels/New York). At Miart, the gallery has a solo presentation on Marguerite Humeau (including sculptures, €28,000-48,000, and paintings, €25,000, inspired by the vegetal world), ahead of her sculpture commission for Sandretto Re Rebaudengo Art Park in Guarene, which will be inaugurated next month.

Marguerite Humeau, <em>Lunaria, the feeling that you might be witnessing the birth of new universes as you are staring at the starry skies on a very dark summer night</em> (2021). Photo © Benjamin Baltus. Courtesy of the artist and Clearing, New York/ Brussels.

Marguerite Humeau, Lunaria, the feeling that you might be witnessing the birth of new universes as you are staring at the starry skies on a very dark summer night (2021). Photo © Benjamin Baltus. Courtesy of the artist and Clearing, New York/ Brussels.

Some exhibitors see an advantage in Miart and Art Basel taking place one week apart. “It’s good that they’re very close because clients that do both can travel from one to the other,” says Pietro Sforza, London sales director of Robilant + Voena, which has sold works by Arnaldo Pomodoro, €30,000, and by Gilberto Zorio, €150,000. The gallery, however, is not participating in Art Basel.

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Want to Get a Jump on the Competition? Here Are 6 Rising-Star Artists to Seek Out at the 2021 Armory Week


While timed entry and crowd control mean that New York’s Armory Week fairs are roomier than they have been at other peak market moments, sales are moving along at a steady clip. Most in demand are paintings that put a twist on figuration, whether by placing the human form in surreal, imaginary settings or by rendering it with novel digital tools.

Gone are the days when collectors clamored for rediscovered dead artists from the ’60s and ’70s. Today, they want the chance to get in on the ground floor—the first time around.

Which artists across New York’s fairs are generating the most buzz this week? See our picks are below.

 

Chase Hall

Chase Hall, <i>Major Taylor</i> (2020). Photo: Katya Kazakina.

Chase Hall, Major Taylor (2020). Courtesy of the artist and Monique Meloche Gallery, Chicago.

Who: Chase Hall (b. 1993) is a self-taught artist who explores themes of race and identity in paintings of Black jazz musicians, athletes, as well as creatures big and small (an homage to his childhood obsession with Animal Planet). His use of raw cotton canvases and ground coffee beans alludes to the history of slave labor. Instead of using white pigment, Hall leaves parts of his canvases unfinished, equating the negative space with whiteness.

Based in: New York

Showing at: Monique Meloche, Chicago, at Independent

Prices: Paintings range from $12,000 to $30,000.

Why You Should Pay Attention: At least three museums are among those trying to get their hands on Hall’s works at Independent. The Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami, bought a painting from his debut with Monique Meloche in 2020; Chase’s solo show with Clearing gallery in New York sold out earlier this year. The Studio Museum in Harlem and the Rubell Museum in Miami also own his work.

Notable Resume Line: Hall participated in the prestigious residency at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture and was a resident at MASS MoCA.

Up Next: A solo show with Galerie Eva Presenhuber in Zurich, Switzerland, in April 2022.

Katya Kazakina

 

Rute Merk

Rute Merk, Ellee (2021). Courtesy of the artist and Downs & Ross, New York. Photo: Phoebe D’Heurle

Rute Merk, Ellee (2021). Courtesy of the artist and Downs & Ross, New York. Photo: Phoebe D’Heurle

Who: Rute Merk (b. 1991) explores the role of the digital in contemporary painting. She contrasts hard-edged shapes with sfumato technique to build up eerie and mystical portraits of androgynous, post-human characters.

Based in: Berlin, Germany

Showing at: Downs and Ross, New York, at Independent

Prices: Paintings range from $20,000 to $40,000.

Why You Should Pay Attention: Collectors and museums in the U.S., Europe, and Asia are are clamoring for the paintings. Her collaboration with fashion house Balenciaga on a series of works resulted in her first show at Downs and Ross.

Notable Resume Line: Merk’s paintings have been acquired by Musée d’art moderne et contemporain, Geneve, and the X Museum in Shanghai.

Up Next: In 2022, the artist will have solo shows at an institution in Shanghai and at Downs & Ross in New York. She will also be included in a number of group museum shows, including at the Green Family Art Foundation in Dallas.

Katya Kazakina 

 

Deb Sokolow

Deb Sokolow, Visualizing a Room Engineered to Accommodate an Empath (2021). Courtesy of Western Exhibitions.

Deb Sokolow, Visualizing a Room Engineered to Accommodate an Empath (2021). Courtesy of Western Exhibitions.

Who: Deb Sokolow (b. 1974) is building up a piercing yet humor-accented body of work largely centered on architecture and how it must adapt to our increasingly damaged world—an enterprise equally informed by scholarly investigations into canonical greats like Frank Lloyd Wright and bleary-eyed “Where did the night go?” internet sleuthing into the ever-expanding vortex of conspiracy theories.

Based in: Chicago

Showing at: Western Exhibitions, Chicago, at Future Fair

Prices: Her latest series of drawings, which use mixed media and collaged relief elements to visualize the floor plans of various borderline-fantastical interiors, range from $3,000 to $10,500.

Why You Should Pay Attention: Sokolow’s work has attracted the literal and figurative buy-in of numerous noteworthy U.S. institutions from Washington, D.C. to Los Angeles, but Western Exhibitions founder Scott Speh said that the artist has yet to find as much traction in New York.

Notable Resume Line: Institutions that have acquired pieces by Sokolow include the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, the Wadsworth Athenaeum, and D.C.’s Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden (where she was also curated into the 2019 group exhibition “Manifesto: Art x Agency”).

Up Next: New works directly related to those on view at the fair will be featured in the November edition of David Zwirner’s Platform, so jump on them now before the global masses start reaching for their digital shopping carts.

Tim Schneider 

 

Sedrick Chisom

Sedrick Chisom, Untitled (2021). Photo courtesy of Matthew Brown.

Sedrick Chisom, Untitled (2021). Photo courtesy of Matthew Brown.

Who: Sedrick Chisom (b. 1989) has earned himself a devoted fan base with his eerie paintings inspired by a 60-page play he wrote called 2200, about a future in which all people of color have been transported away from Earth, leaving white people to engage in civil war.

Based in: New York

Showing at: Matthew Brown, Los Angeles, at Independent

Prices: Works at the gallery’s booth were priced between $8,500 and $18,000.

Why You Should Pay Attention: Chisom isn’t the only young artist working today who is painting dreamy, surreal scenes from imagined futures. But the expansiveness of his imagination (in his narrative, white people develop a medical condition that alters the pigment of their skin and mutates their features) and the skill with which he creates these indelible scenes make him stand out. All the works in Matthew Brown’s presentation—which were smaller than his typical scale—were spoken for by Thursday afternoon.

Notable Resume Line: A solo show of his work just closed late last month at the star-making gallery Pilar Corrias in London. He was awarded the 2018–2019 VCU Fountainhead Fellowship in Painting and Drawing and was a 2019 resident at Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture.

Up Next: His first museum solo show at an unknown venue… Matthew Brown’s director said “they’d have my head” if she gave any hints.

Julia Halperin

 

Kati Heck

Kati Heck, Vondirfüruns-theory (2021). oil on canvas, frame with messing plate site size: 140 x 110 cm / 55 ⅛ x 43 ¼ in Credit: © Kati Heck, courtesy Sadie Coles HQ, London.

Kati Heck, Vondirfüruns-theory (2021). Credit: © Kati Heck, courtesy Sadie Coles HQ, London.

Who: Kati Heck (b. 1979) is a skilled painter whose style mixes Old Master influences with a healthy dose of the surreal and the weird. Think of her work as a mash up of Frans Hals, Balthus, and Picabia, filtered through the female gaze. 

Based in: Pulle, Belgium

Showing at: Sadie Coles Gallery, London, at the Armory Show

Prices: Paintings range from €40,000 to €65,000 ($47,248 to $76,777).

Why You Should Pay Attention: Heck has shown at nearly every major institution in Antwerp, but she has yet to really break through in the U.S. She counts among her collectors the American hedge-fund manager Andrew Hall and the French heir Antoine de Galbert. Two of the three works by the artist at the Armory Show had sold by Thursday afternoon. 

Notable Resume Line: Heck recently had her second solo show, “Bonnie Bonne Bon,” at Sadie Coles this past summer. Her work was chosen for a 2009 show at Bozar curated by Ai Weiwei and Luc Tuymans. 

Up Next: A solo exhibition with Tim Van Laere Gallery in Antwerp next year.

—Eileen Kinsella

 

Kwesi Botchway

Kwesi Botchway, Non Binary (2021). Image courtesy the artist and Gallery 1957, Ghana.

Kwesi Botchway, Non Binary (2021). Image courtesy the artist and Gallery 1957, Ghana.

Who: Striking portraits by Kwesi Botchway (b. 1994) were drawing serious buzz during the Armory Show’s VIP preview. The artist told us at the fair that he is drawn to characters who “are bold in the way they dress, or how they carry themselves” and has previously said he aims “to elevate Blackness and also what Black truly represents.” 

Based in: Ghana and Frankfurt (where he is currently studying at the Frankfurt Art and Design Academy)

Showing at: Gallery 1957, London and Accra, in the Armory Show’s “Presents” section 

Prices: $35,000 to $60,000

Why You Should Pay Attention: Along Amoafo Boako and Otis Kwame Kye Quaicoe, with whom he studied at the Ghanatta College of Art and Design, Botchway is at the vanguard of a new generation of West African painters. His large portraits had already sold out by the morning of the Armory Show’s VIP preview. 

Notable Resume Line: Following solo shows with Gallery 1957 in Accra and London, Botchway’s solo presentation at the Armory Show marks his U.S. debut.

Up Next: A solo show at Maruani Mercier gallery in Brussels.

—Eileen Kinsella

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As Health and Administrative Hurdles Mount, Some Participants Worry That This Year’s Art Basel Could Become a Very Costly Flop


The postponed edition of Art Basel’s flagship Swiss fair will finally take place in person this month. Normally at this time, just a few weeks out from the fair, organizers would be putting the final touches on the opening party. But in this pandemic year, they are instead scrambling to get their heads around mounting administrative hurdles to bring the long-awaited IRL fair across the finish line. 

The fair is capping floor capacity at 12,000 this year, about 20 percent fewer people than in previous years. But as the Delta variant spreads and new health requirements are put in place, the worry these days may be less about restricting visitors than about if they will even show up.

Most people planning to travel to Art Basel this year are already aware of a number of bureaucratic obstacles in place, from completing the Swiss entry form to securing proof of vaccination (or negative Covid tests). Now, visitors to the fair will also have to provide an E.U. COVID-19 certificate, or, for non-E.U. residents, the equivalent Swiss Covid certificate (which requires coordinating with Swiss authorities ahead of arrival). 

Meanwhile, news yesterday that Swiss authorities will only recognize the Moderna, Pfizer, and Johnson and Johnson vaccines—and not AstraZeneca—for entry to large-scale events such as Art Basel, caused consternation in the U.K. art world. While those who received the AstraZeneca vaccine in the E.U. will be covered by their E.U. certificate, those who have received the AstraZeneca vaccine in the U.K. will have to repeat a rapid lateral flow test, which will be available at the fair for CHF37 ($40), every 48 hours, or else pay for a (more expensive) PCR test to gain access for 72 hours. 

Art Basel, in Switzerland. Courtesy Art Basel.

To reduce strain on dealers, the fair has promised to foot the bill for PCR tests for non-E.U. exhibitors who have received the AstraZeneca vaccine. And, if they test negative, they will not have to repeat the test.

Some participants, including the U.K.- and South Africa-based Goodman Gallery and London-based Kate MacGarry, told Midnight Publishing Group News that they were satisfied with the fair’s response to the AstraZeneca conundrum, and said that this development would not impact their commitment to attend the fair. 

For others, the vaccine complication is proving to be one inconvenience too many. “I’m afraid the final straw seems to be not recognizing the AstraZeneca vaccine, which means I couldn’t go anyway,” London-based art advisor Wendy Goldsmith told Midnight Publishing Group News. “This is the vaccine that the majority of Brits have had, so it feels like advisors and clients may just have to wait it out for Frieze. The logistics for galleries must be overwhelming.”  

While Goldsmith had booked flights to travel to Switzerland several weeks ago, they were recently cancelled by the airline and she has been having trouble rebooking. She also heard rumors that Swiss hotels and restaurants have been turning U.K. guests away in recent weeks because they were unable to recognize the QR code of the U.K.’s vaccination app (though this should be resolved for those who can acquire a Swiss Covid certificate.)  

“While the entire art world wants this postponed Basel to succeed, sadly, it may be proving too early, with a perfect storm of problems appearing on the horizon,” Goldsmith said.

“[T]o be frank up front, the current conditions are not what we had hoped for when we rescheduled the fair to September,” wrote Art Basel director Marc Spiegler and head of business and management in Europe Andreas Bicker in a letter to exhibitors yesterday.

They went on to outline some new concessions for participants. Galleries can now withdraw participation and roll over their full booth fees to 2022 in the event that Switzerland introduces new restrictions barring gallerists and staff entry into the country, or entry subject to quarantine. And if any exhibitors feel uncomfortable attending the fair themselves, Art Basel “will mobilize the resources” from its satellite booths to provide personnel.

Organizers also offered the option of staging “ghost booths,” as they did at the most recent version of Art Basel Hong Kong. “Should you wish to convert your booth entirely to a satellite booth, please contact us,” they wrote, adding that they would collaborate on arrangements while reducing the booth fee by 15 percent.

A scaled down version of Frieze New York was held at The Shed in May. (Photo by Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images)

A scaled-down version of Frieze New York was held at The Shed in May. Photo by Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images.

While the added health precautions are designed to keep Art Basel from becoming a superspreader event, they inevitably increase the odds that galleries and fairgoers could get tied up in unexpected delays. The more tests that are required, the greater the chance that someone will test positive and be forced into a 10-day quarantine, which will mean prolonging their stay in Switzerland at great expense, not to mention the risk posed to the health of their staff.

We have a responsibility toward our staff and yet we can’t guarantee they will be O.K., especially at a large indoor event in Europe where there isn’t good mask compliance,” one U.S. gallerist said. (Art Basel has said it will mandate masks throughout the grounds, both indoors and outdoors).

Kate MacGarry said that one way her gallery is trying to minimize risk is through participating in a shared booth with London gallery the Approach as a way to support each other and reduce the numbers of staff on the floor.

Even those who are not affected by the latest changes related to the recognized vaccines have been deterred from attending the fair. Art journalist and author Georgina Adam told Midnight Publishing Group News that while she had initially intended to go to Basel, she has been put off by the travel complications.

“I am double vaccinated with Pfizer, but even so it does seem a lot of administration to enter the fair, plus of course the U.K. has quite stringent requirements for the return, which includes a pricey PCR test,” she said. 

Meanwhile, dealers and visitors from the U.S. have been grappling with a hurdle all their own: Switzerland has just been placed on the State Department’s “do not travel” advisory due to rising cases. 

The landscape seems to be shifting daily, maybe even hourly,” U.S. art advisor Megan Fox Kelly told Midnight Publishing Group News. Kelly decided a few weeks ago to give Basel a miss this year because none of her clients were able to commit, citing concerns about the virus or schedule conflicts. She added that she has received numerous emails from other advisors this week looking for people to take over their hotel reservations in Basel.

“I feel for the fair organizers, and even more so for the dealers, who have had to commit a lot of time and resources to make their presentations—and now the audience they anticipated coming may be considerably diminished,” she said.

Some dealers voiced concern that museums would not be willing to take the risk of sending curators or patron groups. My sense is that U.S. exhibitors are hedging their bets by planning for a reduced presence in terms of inventory and staffing,” a representative for one blue-chip gallery in the U.S. told Midnight Publishing Group News. Others stressed the importance of showing works concurrently in the fair’s online viewing room with the hope that knowing buyers are competing at the live event will add a missing dose of urgency to the online sales.

For many U.S. dealers, the return of the Armory Show in New York is their immediate focus. “As we prepare for Armory next week I’m in a bit of a lather that the [Swiss] fair organizers have not cancelled, same with the rest of the fairs through 2021,” one U.S. gallerist said. “It seems to me that the deal goes like this: the galleries pay a lot of money to bring their artwork and staff to these fairs and the organizers’ job is to guarantee a quality and robust audience. I am worried that they are not going to be able to fulfill their side of the bargain.”

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As Summer Sales Wane, Italian Dealers Are Chasing Collectors All the Way to the Beach With a Pop-Up in Procida


A consortium of Italian galleries has announced it is opening a decentralized art exhibition on the small Italian island of Procida. The event takes place over the three-day weekend of September 2–5 and will see 45 works of art peppered across 20 sites on the striking yet lesser-known island, just off the coast of Naples.

“Panorama” is the first event to be organized by Italics, a group of 63 galleries that banded together in 2020, and will present pieces ranging from Old Masters to the ultra-contemporary. “The founding principle behind Italics is to connect art of all times with the rich and diverse Italian landscape, offering a unique opportunity to explore both through a special perspective,” said Lorenzo Fiaschi, president of Italics and co-founder of Galleria Continua, and Pepi Marchetti Franchi, vice president of Italics and founding director of Gagosian Rome, in a joint statement sent to Midnight Publishing Group News.

The destination pop-up—set against vistas familiar from such films as Cleopatra and The Talented Mr. Ripley—is one of the more unusually located and ephemeral exhibitions during a year that saw galleries and auction houses decamp to various locations around the world, opening outposts in places like West Palm Beach and Menorca. A group of dealers curated a group show in Puglia earlier this summer.

Lucio Fontana's <i>Fine di Dio</i> (1963). Courtesy Tornabuoni Art.

Lucio Fontana’s Concetto spaziale. La fine di Dio (1963). Courtesy Tornabuoni Art.

The organizers say the primary aim of “Panorama” is community-based, not commercial, although the works will all be for sale. “We don’t see this project as antithetical to anything already in place, but rather an additional opportunity highlighting the role of galleries as centers of cultural production,” said the duo. “Italics was born in a moment of high challenge at the start of the pandemic last year, when Italy was hit particularly hard. We started having intense conversations about how to create synergies addressing the hard road ahead.” Even if Italics was conceived in response to a specific moment, when it comes to future iterations, they added, “the possibilities for long-term collaboration projects are almost endless.”

The works and their respective settings were overseen by Vincenzo de Bellis, curator at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, who led the selection and installation in consultation with participating Italics members. Sites across the island, named Italy’s cultural capital for 2022, include various public and private buildings, churches, historical palazzos, and piazzas. One example of the cross-century pairings features one of Lucio Fontana’s iconic Concetto spaziale. La fine di Dio works, courtesy of Tornabuoni Art. Translating to “Spatial concept. The End of God,” the punctured green canvas from 1963 will be dramatically presented in the chapel of Santa Maria della Purità, which dates to 1530. The Fontana will be paired with Filippo Tagliolini’s paintings Berenice and Democrito o/or Aristotele, both from around 1790, which arrive via Alessandra Di Castro, an antiques dealer from Rome.

Tomás Saraceno's <i>GJ 1132 c/M+M</i> (2018). Courtesy the artist and pinksummer.

Tomás Saraceno’s GJ 1132 c/M+M (2018). Courtesy of the artist and pinksummer.

A spokesperson from Tornabuoni tells Midnight Publishing Group News that the Fontana, an “example of Italian excellence from the postwar avant-garde,” has been read in different ways, either as a “negation of transcendence or, sometimes, the rediscovery of spirituality.” Though the gallery would not communicate a specific price, it hinted that the work is one of the most expensive pieces of Italian art to ever come to market, aside from the €158 million Modigliani sold at Sotheby’s in 2015. According to Midnight Publishing Group’s Price Database, an iteration of Concetto spaziale. Fine di Dio sold at Christie’s for $29.1 million in 2015; that same year, Sotheby’s sold another version for $24.6 million.

The Tornabuoni spokesperson added that salespeople will be on site during the weekend to welcome collectors. “Our gallery strongly believes that this kind of event is set to be reproduced and developed, as it answers a need to see art leaving the sometimes hermetic walls of a physical gallery to come into contact with a wider or different audience,” they told Midnight Publishing Group News. “The originality and strength of this project is also born from the unexpected locations of the island of Procida, which becomes a theater where art and architecture feed one another.”

Additional highlights include a monumental sculpture by revered Chinese installation artist Chen Zhen. The art trail will snake around the island, leading up to the fortified city of Terra Murata and its dramatic clifftop prison, where Giuseppe Penone will install a bronze tree sculpture that morphs into a human figure on the terrace. Other participating artists include Daniel Buren, Ibrahim Mahama, and Tomás Saraceno; Robert Barry, Elisabetta Benassi, Igor Grubić, Marcello Maloberti, and Adrian Paci will contribute performances.

Panorama” takes place September 2–5 on Procida, Italy.

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