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Liu Installation







Glabush Portrait
Sky Glabush Portrait as Gertrude Stein, 2012

This October I happened to be in my hometown visiting friends and family during the 14th annual Toronto International Art Fair so I decided to check out the art scene and attended the Opening Night Preview and Gala, benefiting the Art Gallery of Ontario. Unlike last year, which was rather disappointing with an overabundance of schlocky figurative work, this year, the organizers seemed to have kicked it up a notch and the fair itself, as well as the opening night party was actually worth the visit this time. Kitty Scott, the AGO's curator of modern and contemporary art noted this remarking that, "There is a contemporary energy at this year's fair. The works we purchased are all dated 2013; they are very engaging and immediately stood out. These are all outstanding additions to the AGO's collection of Canadian art." With funds raised from the gala preview the AGO's selection committee acquired five new works by four emerging Canadian artists, including a photo realist painting by well-known Winnipeg artist Karel Funk, who is represented by 303 Gallery in New York for $50,000; a large acrylic painting by Montreal-based Anthony Burnham; a drawing by self-taught Cape Dorset artist Shuvinai Ashoona; and finally, my favorite a diptych by newcomer Celia Perrin Sidarous, Eight cubes on their own and Eight cubes with ceramics.

Perrin Sidarous
Celia Perrin Sidarous, Eight cubes with ceramics, 2013

The Montreal-based artist, who is still finishing her MFA in photography at Concordia University, creates original installations in her studio and then photographs them before they are dismantled. She just had a solo exhibition at the Banff Center in July 2013 and her work is already included in TD Bank's corporate collection. The AGO bought the two photographs for $2500. I also fell in love with the work of Canadian artist Sky Glabush, whose recent work was on view at the Toronto-based MKG127 Gallery. His painting, Portrait as Gertrude Stein (2012), caught my eye and I regret not having purchased it for a mere $4000. With his newer works, Glabush has made a departure from his well-received series of large-format landscape paintings of mid-century homes in London, into territory that is more personal and psychological. I also liked the work of Montreal artist Eve K. Tremblay, whose photographs were part of a series based on books and book culture, with a special emphasis on Farenheit 451. Other artists of interest were painters Kym Greeley and Janet Werner. Greely paints large, minimal, abstract Newfoundland landscapes that look more like screen prints and Werner creates lush, painterly female portraits that deconstruct traditional notions of feminine beauty.

Eve K. Tremblay, Études pour Dancing Books (Triumph Over The Fear of Collapse - Spine #6), 2011

Attendees to the fair included internationally lauded collector Ydessa Hendeles, Janne Sirén, Director of the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo; Marc Mayer, Director of the National Gallery; Curator of Modern & Contemporary Art at the AGO, Kitty Scott; philanthropists and collectors David and Audrey Mirvish, Atom Agoyan, Joe Friday, Jay Smith and Laura Rapp, Victoria Jackman, Executive director of the Hal Jackman Foundation and Paul and Mary-Dailey Desmarais, the lovely young couple whose collection I had the pleasure of visiting at a cocktail party they hosted at their home that weekend. Paul Guy Desmarais III, the grandson of recently deceased Canadian billionaire Paul Desmarais, apparently inherited his grandfather's great love for art. CEO of The Power Corporation of Canada, the late Desmarais was well known for his powerful political connections, (he counted the Bush's, Chrétien and Sarkozy as friends), but he was also known for amassing one of Canada's largest private art collections housed at the families sprawling 75-square-kilometre Sagard estate in the mountainous Charlevoix region of Quebec. Paul and Mary's unassuming and traditionally decorated Rosedale home would have been unremarkable except for the fact that is was filled to the brim with contemporary art; paintings, works on paper and sculpture that covered every inch of the house. They even had a few video works on view on some of the upper floors, which Paul gleefully doted on with guests over glasses of champagne. While there was barely a blank spot on their walls, the couple apparently have much more artwork in storage and are reported to be opening their own private museum at some point in the near future.

I also had the pleasure of meeting well known Toronto collector Ken Montague while taking a private peak of the Toronto-based artist-designer Barr Gilmore's Color Barr - a fantastic sculpture/cocktail bar that looked more like a 3D, computer generated rendering of bunny. The curious object, fashioned out of stainless steel opened to reveal cocktail shakers, tumblers and glass decanters filled with various colorful concoctions. Ken Montague, who collects works that explore black identity and the African diaspora, has described Toronto as, "one of the most art-collector-filled cities in the world. Artists here actually have a chance to have a career because people will buy their work and support them." As a Toronto native, who spent most of my adult life living and working in New York, the art capitol of the world, this came as a somewhat of a surprise, but over the course of my visit I realized that Toronto has really come into its own as a bourgeoning and important art market, filled with serious collectors who not only support local Canadian artists, but who are building impressive international and noteworthy collections.

Barr Gilmore Ken Montague
Barr Gilmore's Color Barr, 2011
Collector Ken Montague at Art Toronto

Another prominent Canadian collector named Joe Friday, who has amassed what the Globe and Mail has described as the most significant private holding of art in the Ottawa area, noted that even with more international galleries participating in TIAF each year, there is still not enough of an international presence in the fair. Friday, who buys from Art Basel, Frieze New York and NADA said, "Some of these galleries have consistently buying Canadian clients…so that can be a little frustrating to say, 'We have come to you. How about coming to us for a change?" Despite the apparent lack of international recognition, Toronto's collectors, patrons, and institutions have certainly not hesitated in bringing great contemporary art to Toronto. During the short time that I was in town there were several exhibitions of note on view. Perhaps the most spectacular being the world-renowned Chinese artist and activist, Ai Wei Wei's mind boggling Forever Bicycles installation at Nathan Phillip's Square. On view during the Nuit Blanche festival, a free all-night contemporary art event featuring hundreds of artists, this three-dimensional sculpture made of 3,144 interconnected bicycles, or Yong Jiu, reinterpreted the bicycle as a found object, and resulted in a spectacular installation that completely distorted all sense of perspective.

Forever Bicycles
Ai Wei Wei, Forever Bicycles, 2013, Nuit Blanche, Nathan Phillip's Square, Toronto


Mono No Ma
An Te Liu, Mono No Ma, Installation view, Gardiner Museum, 2013

Another not-to-be-missed exhibition on view at the Gardiner Museum this October was renowned Canadian artist, An Te Liu's exhibition Mono No Ma, the second in the traditional ceramic museum's Artist Intervention series. Liu is well known for his installations made of cast off and obsolete electronics such as White Dwarf (2012) and Cloud (2008) that was featured at the 11th Venice Biennale of Architecture. For this exhibition however, he decided to immerse himself in learning an entirely new technical process, that of ceramics. Instead of repurposing found objects by reassembling them into novel new forms, Liu has taken a more classical approach this time, utilizing the rather complicated ceramic slip-cast process for his impressive group of 19 new sculptures.

An Te Liu, Cloud, Venice Biennale of Architecture, 2008

Staying true to his predilection for recycled materials, Liu found inspiration in consumer culture's surplus of throwaway debris, utilizing found pieces of Styrofoam packing material used to protect electronic goods and other consumer products. Through some sleight of hand, Liu has deftly turned the packaging around Apple iMac computers, rice cookers, T.V.'s and toasters into the most exquisite abstracted, anthropomorphic forms and modernist totems a la Barbara Hepworth, Henry Moore and Isamu Nogochi. Liu has rendered each work with a different glaze or patina that could be wood, burnished bronze or porcelain, leaving the viewer guessing and wanting to touch each sculpture out of pure tactile curiosity. For a first-time ceramicist, Liu seems to have mastered, not only this difficult technical process, but the material itself and has added a new dimension to his artistic practice with this remarkable new body of work. While maintaining his signature high production value, Liu has successfully transformed this found, everyday detritus into beautiful ceramic sculptures that evoke a multitude of references, from the Ancient to Modern: Primal African funerary figures and ethnographic objects; to Ancient Greek and classical sculpture, as exemplified in Aphros, which calls to memory the Winged Victory of Samthroace; to high Modernist masterpieces such as Brancusi's totemic sculptures or Picasso and Braque's cubist works.

Gnomon Solids
An Te Liu, Gnomon, 2013
An Te Liu, Order of Solids, 2013

Mono No Ma literally translated means 'space or void of the thing,' which is exactly what these sculptures are made up of, the negative space around the objects that we consume and throw away every day. When viewed from this perspective, they almost appear to be talismanic artifacts one might find in an ethnographic museum from the future, the telling evidence of our throwaway, materialist, commodity-driven culture. Michael J. Prokopow, the author of the accompanying exhibition catalogue wrote, "While Liu's practice can be seen in large part as a product of his fascination with the littered landscapes of everyday consumer life…Liu's critical, materialist positioning has meant that his work is thoughtfully ideological, meticulously executed, and substantive — a type of weightier Conceptual Art where optics matter. Accordingly, Liu's practice operates as a sustained commentary on the ideological and phenomenological implications of relationships between people and things, policies, and actions, decisions and consequences. Indeed, Liu's work seldom fails to raise difficult questions about technological determinism, material desire, and the structures of power that define existence and the human condition." Surprisingly, Liu is currently not represented by a gallery, however almost all of the works in this exhibition have already been sold, many to top Canadian collectors, institutions and museums. I would say this is definitely one Canadian artist to keep your eye on.


Christian Marclay, The Clock (2010)

Also not to be missed in Toronto this fall was Christian Marclay's cinematic tour de force The Clock (2010), on view through mid-November at the Power Plant, Canada's leading public gallery for Contemporary at Harbourfront. This unique and compelling video work which has been called "a masterpiece of our time," consists of thousands of fragments of film: clips of wristwatches, clock towers, sundials, alarm clocks, and countdowns and includes such diverse films such as "High Noon," starring Gary Cooper; "Titanic" with Leonardo DiCaprio; and Arnold Schwarzenegger in "Eraser." Marclay's Clock, which earned him the Golden Lion at the Venice Biennale in June 2011, illustrates every minute in a 24-hour period, in a looped, single-channel video that examines how time, plot and duration are depicted in cinema.
Admission to view the work at the Power Plant was free of charge and participants were invited to stay as long as they wished. The viewing room included seating for 50 people at a time and special 24 hour viewings were scheduled for those who were intrepid enough to watch the film in its entirety. Viewers can actually use the piece to tell the local time, so whether you're reading the hands of an ancient grandfather clock in a black and white movie or listening to Matthew Broderick read the time off a digital display in a 1980s flick, your own wristwatch will reflect that exact time of day. The work also offers the experience of a vast range of cinematic settings and moods within the space of a few minutes, making time unravel in countless directions and rupturing any sense of linear, narrative sequence. The work is both an homage to film history and an affirmation of our present time.

Since premiering at White Cube in London in 2010, The Clock has been viewed with critical acclaim at venues around the world, but with the help of Toronto collectors Jay Smith and Laura Rapp, the work was jointly acquired by the National Gallery of Canada and the Museum of Fine Arts Boston. In his article in Canadian Art, Murray Whyte describes how Toronto collectors Jay Smith and Laura Rapp and her parents Carol and Morton Rapp were instrumental in acquiring this work for the National Gallery of Canada and bringing it to The Power Plant. At the 2011 Venice Biennale the work was a showstopper. It was also the object of all-night line-ups at both White Cube in London, where it had debuted in the fall of 2010, and at Paula Cooper Gallery in New York. In his article Whyte describes The Clock as, "a sort of Holy Grail of contemporary art: a thoroughly rigorous, intellectually and formally challenging work that nonetheless has the popular appeal of a Hollywood blockbuster." He went on to say that, "it seemed impossible that a piece so unabashedly famous (what he described as the single most celebrated work of 21st-century art in the world)…could land in Ottawa."

With only six editions available and several institutions on White Cube's waiting list, acquiring this work was difficult, but somehow with the help of seasoned patrons Smith and Rapp, the National Gallery of Canada managed to pull it off and the work is now part of Canada's cultural heritage. Smith said, "The Museum of Modern Art had it, the Tate had it, LACMA had it, and I think Laura felt it was really important that Canada had it, and I agreed." Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) director Matthew Teitelbaum has called Smith and Rapp "the King and Queen of the Toronto Art community." Smith and Rapp's relationships with artists are legendary. They do frequent studio visits with the likes of Stan Douglas, Jeff Wall and Ian Wallace and count Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller as frequent houseguests. Cardiff even made one of her audio walks for their house after they supported her work at dOCUMENTA (13). As the first vice-president of CIBC Wood Gundy, Smith manages more than $1.5 billion in assets, but Smith and Rapp have not used their wealth to simply amass an impressive private collection for themselves. Alternately, Smith and Rapp have had a direct hand in dozens of events and acquisitions for the AGO, the NGC and the Power Plant. Former curator of modern and contemporary art at the AGO turned art adviser, David Moos has described them as "…without a doubt, among the most generous and welcoming people in the art world in this city." It is through the efforts of Canadian patrons such as Smith, Rapp, the Desmarais and Montague, that Toronto may now be counted as a bona fide destination for contemporary art and a city that boasts some the finest private contemporary art collections in Canada.



We are pleased to announce that Sarah Belden has been nominated as a member of ArtTable - the Leadership Organization for Professional Women in the Visual Arts. ArtTable is a professional network of more than 1,500 women throughout the United States with membership centers in Boston, Los Angeles, Houston, New York, San Francisco, Seattle, Washington D.C., Chicago, Miami and New Orleans. ArtTable supports outstanding women leaders in the visual arts, recognizing and promoting their achievements and increasing their professional opportunities. Since ArtTable's founding in 1980, the organization has expanded its network by connecting leading women in the arts through major art world events, conferences and art fairs. Sarah Belden was nominated by board member Heidi Lee-Komaromi, who was recently appointed Director of Strategic Partnerships at Sarah Belden is extremely pleased to be part of the ArtTable network and is looking forward to participating in their programs.

Arttable member Teresita Fernández holds the Distinguished Service
to the Visual Arts award with honoree Patricia Phelps de Cisneros



Rudolf Stingel installation at Palazzo Grassi, Venice, 2013

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Since the acclaimed pioneer of video art Nam Jun Paik realized his first video-installation in Germany in 1963, video and digital art has continued to expand into a revolutionary art form that has altered our perception and ultimately changed the way we look at art. Video and digital art can take on many forms and may be viewed on our home computer screens, YouTube, and on our iphones and ipads, but one might say the most established form is the video-installation as seen in countless gallery and museum exhibitions around the world. Gerry Schum, who opened the first video art-gallery in Düsseldorf in 1971 said, "One of our ideas is the communication of art instead of the ownership of an art-object." Perhaps this is why, in our hyper-digitalized lives filled with daily communication via Gmail, Facebook, YouTube and Tumblr, video and digital art has come to dominate as the medium that is the message, or the ultimate gestampkunstwerk. This month SBFA explores the medium of video and digital art and reports on "Adam Curtis Vs. Massive Attack," the latest project by British BBC television journalist and provocateur Adam Curtis at the Park Ave. Armory; "Paddles ON!" the first digital art auction at Phillip's in New York; and finally SBFA artist Andreas Templins' latest project in Nuremberg, VIDEOworkCASE .


Some say that British television journalist and provocateur Adam Curtis is one of the most fascinating film­makers operating in the world today. Since the early 1990s Adam Curtis has made a number of serial documentaries and films for the BBC which are linked using fragments of the past—recorded on film and video―and then reassembled to try and make sense of the chaotic events of the present. Curtis artfully cuts up endless film footage from the BBC archive and assembles it into a series of "brainy, free-associative mash-up meditations on the course of empire," which some argue might be considered art itself. Last year Curtis was a featured speaker at Frieze Talks in London, where I stood in cue for over an hour and was turned away along with many others as the event was over capacity. I wondered, why all the sudden interest from artists in this BBC journalist? While the irritatingly omnipresent German curator Hans Ulrich Obrist described Curtis "not an artist, but a television journalist" during the 2012 retrospective he curated of Curtis' films entitled "The Desperate Edge of Now" he also went on to say that "In our current age of uncertainty, both art and journalism are struggling in their different ways to make sense of the present time. This exhibition of Adam Curtis' works aims to try and break down the divide between art and modern political reportage, and to open up a dialogue between the two." Perhaps this is why artists find Curtis work is so powerful and of-the-moment.

Adam Curtis and Massive Attack front man Robert Del Naja

Curtis' work, which combines avant-garde filmmaking and journalistic investigation, offers a radical critique of the contemporary world that not only analyzes the ideologies that shape our world but counters them formally. Similar to the way that early 20th century artists opposed to traditional art made "anti-art," Curtis makes anti-propaganda films by subverting the political documentary. Obrist's press release states that "The old idea was that the heart of power was primarily located in the realm of politics. Adam Curtis' films challenge that notion head-on by demonstrating how power really works in today's complex society, how it also flows through all sorts of other areas: through science, public relations and advertising, psychology, computer networks, and finance and business." Curtis, who has free access to the BBC's vast library of archival footage, uses fragments of celluloid in unexpected ways, juxtaposing imagery from the past to give voice to the present, successfully unhinging the traditional documentary style and revealing what is hidden behind the standard narratives of Western culture.

Through his films Curtis successfully collapses the political and historical grand narratives that we have come to accept. Michael Atkinson wrote "Curtis's corpus has the seething, portentous air of science fiction, without being fictional, and the disconnect there suggests a new kind of culture that may well be a natural byproduct of the postwar era's steamrolling power structures, capitalistic need for growth, ecological devastation, and extra-human technology. Why should the old categories of history, science fiction, journalistic truth, conspiracism and apocalyptic vision retain their mutual exclusivity, as the conceptual barriers between news and entertainment, reality and virtuality, government and corporation, national and global, all vanish like stray broadcast signals?" Curtis' work effectively obliterates the mutually exclusive "conceptual barriers" between journalism, documentary film and art and for this reason one might think of him as a revolutionary political "artist" using the medium as the message, whilst simultaneously subverting the very media state he is critiquing.

His most recent project "Massive Attack vs. Adam Curtis" at the Park Ave. Armory in New York, was a collaboration between himself and the Bristol-based, trip hop band Massive Attack. The "show" was in fact, a complicated performance piece with music, spoken word and film footage simultaneously projected over eleven screens and channeled back through dozens of booming loudspeakers to a rapt audience of hundreds in the cavernous old military building on Park Avenue. As the video trailer provocatively describes it, his film weaves together the stories of "Donald and Ivana Trump, Nicolai and Elena Ceausescu, Jane Fonda and Ted Turner, Hamid Karzai and his brothers, everyone in Goldman Sachs who made a killing in 2008, the neutron bomb, the Siberian punk movement, Bambi, and all your own worst fears." His thesis is basically that the cycle of fashion, music and a "culture of entertainment" are not the empowering agents of individualism they pertained to be, but are in fact tools of a deeply conservative philosophy which, by urging us to obsess about the past, leaves us unable to imagine a future which could be in any way different, or as Adam Curtis himself put it, "if you like that, then you'll love this." While some might see Curtis' work as pessimistic, it could also be construed as a call to arms to imagine a different and a better future. This new hybrid artform or "glim" (musical gig and film) as Curtis and Massive Attack front man Robert Del Naja dubbed it, might be also be considered an inspired "new kind of culture," or an all encompassing, immersive, politically motivated gestampkustwerk that breaks down the traditional boundaries between the arts and their respective mediums and offers us a provocative new perspective on the past and the possibility to imagine a brighter future.


RGB,D-LAY by Petra Cortright is a webcam video piece publicly available on YouTube

In recognition of the increasing presence and viability of the genre of digital art in the contemporary art marketplace Phillip's Auction House and social media blog website Tumblr, have joined forces to hold what they describe as the "first ever digital art auction." Curated by Lindsay Howard, the exhibition and auction brings together artists who are using digital technologies to establish the next generation of contemporary art. The auction, called 'Paddles On!' will be the first to be held live at Phillip's and online with the premier online auction house Paddle 8. Tumblr, which is one of the most popular platforms used by emerging and established digital artists to share their work online, will feature digital art pieces on offer at auction in a huge range of digital formats such as GIF, mp4 videos, digital photography, website design and software design. For this benefit auction, artists will receive 80% of the sale profits and the remaining proceeds will be donated to Rhizome, the leading non-profit organization dedicated to supporting new media and digital art that was founded in 1996 by artist and MFA Fine Arts Department at SVA Chair, Mark Tribe.

Mark Tribe "Black Creek"

Tribe's work features virtual landscapes that he has "hacked" from video games and virtual reality vistas, which he says has, " of the conceptual underpinnings of the project: how the boundaries between the virtual and the real are blurring in contemporary life. Futurists and science fiction authors have been predicting this moment for decades, and it is finally happening: not only is it getting hard to tell the difference sometimes, but the real and the virtual are no longer separate territories." Tribe's work is included in the auction in addition to works by Rafaël Rozendaal, Nicolas Sassoon, Silvia Bianchi + Ricardo Juárez, Petra Cortright, Joe Hamilton, Molly Soda, Sabrina Ratté. This auction is considered groundbreaking, in that it marks a significant show of support for digital artists and adds welcome validity to their place in the contemporary art market, which for the most part has favored more traditional mediums such as painting and photography. At a time when everything in the art market seems to be going online this makes sense. Tribe says, "digital media have become increasingly pervasive, to a point where their cultural significance is undeniable and unavoidable. At the same time, online art sellers like Artspace and Artsy are finally gaining traction, and even Amazon is now selling art online. Major collectors and their advisors routinely purchase work based only on jpegs. The acceptance of digital art is a consequence of these trends." Digital artists already are commanding significant prices and attention from the contemporary-art world. An untitled inkjet-printer painting by Wade Guyton fetched $1.1 million at Christie's in February and Cory Arcangel, whose work includes computer-generated projects, video, music composition and sculpture, had a solo show at the Whitney Museum of American Art in 2011. Others have built their audiences online through sites such as Tumblr, which has become a popular platform for artists to present their work and some are even using Tumblr as their medium of choice, said Annie Werner, Tumblr's arts evangelist.



Featured SBFA artist Andreas Templin opens his latest collaborative project in Nuremberg this month with the interdisciplinary art video project VIDEOworkCASE, a site-specific platform for 8-channel video artworks situated in Willy-Brandt-Square in the city centre of Nuremberg. Eight projection screens installed behind glass will showcase around-the-clock video works and installations by over ten international artists, including Klaus Haas, Pia Greschner and Andreas Templin from Germany and Canadian artist/musician Jeremy Shaw. Andreas Templin's award winning video work "As if to Nothing," (2008) that was featured during Art Basel Miami Beach 2011 and in a solo-exhibition in Tokyo will also be on view. This computer-based single-channel video work features a selection of statistical data such as the Earth's temperature, the planet's population, births, deaths, military expenditures and remaining oil reserves. This data, created by various governmental and intergovernmental sources is combined with the highly dramatic second movement of Bruckner's 7th symphony, which is looped for the screening. This musical tour-de-force through human emotions is used to underline the weight of the subject matter of the artwork. The video-installation is in fact a computer program, which utilizes the internal clock of the computer to calculate the statistical algorithms, which are updated on a yearly basis.

Jeremy Shaw

Canadian artist and musician Jeremy Shaw will exhibit "DTM" an 8 channel video installation that both formalizes and externalizes individual psychedelic experiences featuring videos of young subjects high on the hyper-hallucinogen dimethyltriptamine (DMT). Jeremy Shaw's practice conflates conceptual art strategies, performance and documentary with a text-based version of psychedelic art. Berlin-based artist Pia Greschner will be showing her 8 screen video installation "The Moon Is My Sun" that was shot in Mozambique, South Africa and Berlin, places which have a history of conflict and war. The images in her piece show moments that evoke feelings of emptiness, disillusionment, aggression and fear, accompanied by music by singer and actress Pujeh Taghdisi. Each of the participating artists in VIDEOworkCASE will exhibit one work in the form of an installation for the period of a week. The project opens Thursday, October 10th with Jeremy Shaw's "DMT" and is supported by the Institute of Modern Art Nuremberg.

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This summer, while vacationing with my family on the pristine beaches of Cadiz, I visited the NMAC Foundation, an amazing Natural Park and Contemporary Art Museum located in Dehesa Montenmedio in Vejer de la Frontera. Inaugurated in 2001, this Foundation was created as a point of interaction between the social, cultural and territorial context of this particular geographical region – the South West Coast of Spain, overlooking the straights of Gibraltar, about 30km from Tangiers, and just south of Portugal. The Foundation was conceived of as a mediating museum, committed to supporting contemporary artists on specific projects that promote social dialogue and understanding through art. Artists from all corners of the world have been invited to undertake site-specific projects in the form of installations, sculptures, photography, video, painting, performances and architectural projects including Adel Abdessemed, Marina Abramovic, Maurizio Cattelan, Olafur Eliasson, Jeppe Hein, Sol Lewitt, Michael Lin, Santiago Sierra, Pascale Marthine Tayou, Aleksandra Mir, Ester Partegás, Huang Yong Ping, James Turell and Shen Yuan.

Aleksandra Mir, Love Stories, NMAC

Upon arriving, we received a very warm welcome from what appeared to be the only employee on duty. We also appeared to be the only visitors in sight, so in fact, we had the whole park to ourselves. The docent handed us maps and pointed out the small metallic yellow mushrooms dotting the pathways that would lead us through the forest to discover each successive work. The first project we encountered was in the visitor's office itself, where Michael Lin's instantly recognizable explosion of colored, floral patterned wallpaper covered the interior walls of the barracks. Lin's "Passage Garden" plays with the idea of reutilization and transformation of space through the recreation of a Chinese garden. The philosophy of Chinese gardens lies in the relationship between the interior and the exterior, which was exemplified here with the addition of a back wall of glass, which linked both outdoor and indoor spaces, bringing in light through the circular apertures in each adjoining room.

Michael Lin, Garden Passage, NMAC

Outside my 4-year old son alerted us to the second work, the sound of clapping mysteriously emanating from above. Looking up towards the thick, fragrant canopy of pine, we discovered two "boys," balancing, legs akimbo, on a large tree branch peering down at us, wearing what appeared to be papier maché masks. This was in fact a sculptural work by the Spanish artists and sibling duo MP & MP Rosado. Following the path we took a wrong turn onto the main road where we encountered the work of Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan; a large foreboding highway sign that read "En este lugar han ocurrido 81 accidentes 14 muertos 2 lesionados." "Untitled" which Maurizio Cattelan devised for the NMAC Foundation in 2001, is a traffic notice that reads in English: "81 accidents, 14 deaths and 2 serious injuries have occurred on the following spot". The poster was hung on one of the site's most quiet roads where scarcely 20 cars passed a day.

Maurizio Cattelan, Sin titulo, NMAC

Once back on track, away from the "danger" of the road, we followed the trail of yellow magic mushrooms through the lush Mediterranean woodland to discover one amazing work after another. It was like a treasure hunt for contemporary art lovers, set in the most idyllic of natural settings. The next work we came upon was one of Jeppe Hein's eleven "Modified Social Benches," executed in 2006. These 'impossible' benches located throughout the woods acted as jarring elements in an otherwise serene landscape. Due to their modified structures they are impossible to sit down on and thus, created a sense of feeling out of place. Under these circumstances, the public space is reactivated in the face of a conflict of misunderstanding and displacement generated by the viewer's own experience, with the viewer being both witness and protagonist of this marginality. Another work that raised the issue of marginality was Adel Abdessemed's sculpture made of rolls of barbed wire entitled "Salam Europe." Abdessemed's work questions identity and borders, and tests social, political and cultural limits, and this work in particular highlighted the plight of immigrants who try to escape over the barbed-wire fence separating Europe from Africa in the city of Melilla nearby.

On the lighter side of things, Olafur Ellison's concave brick and mirrored wall entitled "Quasi Bricks Wall" focused on the study of sensory perception, the laws of physics and natural conditions. The basic elements of time: water, light, temperature and pressure are the materials that the artist has used throughout his career, introducing natural phenomena in unexpected places. Here, he continues his experiments with the perception of our surroundings through light and materialisation. Through study and research of various mathematic formulae, the artist has invented a geometric figure in the shape of a dodecahedron, which complies with the functions of the "almost perfect" geometric model, constructed in baked clay bricks. With this new type of brick a curved wall was built with the concave side exposed to the light. The bricks, positioned in a random fashion, form a rough, unequal surface on which their mirrored surfaces reflect the suns rays, creating a curtain of light particles, which can be seen from different areas of the woods, attracting the public's eye.

Olafur Ellison, Quasi Brick Wall, NMAC

One of the more spectacular works we discovered was Sol LeWitt's "Cinderblock," a staggered pyramid made of concrete cubes situated within an unusually quiet extension of the forest, that the artist executed in 2001. This work seemed to emerge out of nowhere and once we encountered the massive architectural sculpture up close, it appeared like a strange minimalist Aztec structure from the future. LeWitt is known for his elegant minimalist forms, which evoke the artificial and the natural. To ensure the correct execution of this work he relied on the supervision of an architect due to the fact that it falls between the categories of sculpture and architecture. This construction breaks with the traditional schemes of landscape, drawing us into a structural world of different dimensions and perspectives. His ambitious proportions are adapted perfectly to the environment here, competing with the grandeur of the trees and the landscape.

Sol Lewitt, Cinderblock, NMAC

Throughout the forest Aleksandra Mir's work, entitled "Love Stories," could be found inscribed on the trees themselves. Her work is a compilation of a thousand love stories from every corner of the planet, interwoven within the territorial context of a Mediterranean wood, where each heart with corresponding initials is carved into its own tree as a way of establishing ties between the global and the local. This is an going project and once these hearts are carved in the pine trees, the thousand love stories will be published in a book, presenting a portrait of a multicultural society through emotional experiences exhibited in a public setting, making manifest the sentiments of human nature, beyond geographic, idiomatic, cultural, and traditional constraints.

James Turell, Second Wind 2005, NMAC

One of the last work's we came upon was James Turrell's "Second Wind 2005" executed in 2009. For this project Turrell wanted to produce a work that enhanced the natural light of the surrounding area. This is typical of the artist who is known internationally for his "sky spaces" that use light as a medium, in order to study and examine perception itself. This incredible architectural structure was actually located underground, and you had to enter the pyramid though a tunnel. Inside was a stone stupa, or dome surrounded by a blue crystalline pool of water. The stupa is in fact, a circular dome used in Buddhist architecture, whose shape and position has the effect of making the cosmos appear closer. A passageway into the stupa leads to a room with a circular hole in the ceiling, open to the sky. Here, like his work at P.S.1 MoMA in New York, one can sit and watch the changes of light "sculpted" by the artist that are always best enjoyed at sunset, when one can see the transformation from day to night through the small aperture. Here, Turrell blurs the viewers perception of the sky as a space, shape and an object and creates the illusion that the sky is just within our reach, blurring the line between matter and emptiness, vision and perception.

James Turell, Second Wind 2005, NMAC

He wrote, "I am not dealing with an object. The object is perception itself." Secondly, I am not dealing with an image because I want to avoid any associative symbolic thought." Thirdly, I am not dealing with a special purpose or focal point, either. With no object, image or purpose, what are you looking at? You are looking at yourself looking." This is apparently one of Turrell's biggest projects after his Roden Crater in Arizona, which I hope to visit one day, but until then, this small celestial observatory surrounded by the beauty of the fragrant Mediterranean pine forest, the pristine beaches of Cadiz and the quaint, white-washed, hilltop village of Vejer de la Frontera was more than enough to edify my mind, body and soul.

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This May I was back in NYC for Frieze and another round of art fair madness. After a red eye from Madrid and a one hour commute from the airport amid a torrential downpour, I made my way straight to Randall's Island to catch Thursday's private view of the highly anticipated, second edition of Frieze NY, the U.S. version of the successful London fair. Luckily, by the time I caught the ferry from 34th and the FDR, the sky had cleared and I quickly gained my second wind. Despite the jet lag, I was happy to be back in my city, and it was an added bonus to view Manhattan (including rarely visited East Harlem), from the East River, something most New Yorkers rarely do. After a pleasant but short ferry ride, we disembarked with disheveled hair and trod over the rain soaked grass to the entrance of the immense billowing white tent, next to which stood Paul McCarthy's ridiculously massive 80 foot red "Balloon Dog." This inflatable sculpture, a tongue in cheek play on Jeff Koons' famous metallic blow up toys, apparently sold during the fair for close to one million USD, quite a sum to pay for a lot of hot air. McCarthy's playful jab at Jeff Koons, recently dubbed "the most successful American artist since Warhol," by New York Magazine, seemed timely, given that Koons was opening two shows, back to back, at David Zwirner and Gagosian galleries in Chelsea.  

Paul McCarthy "Balloon Dog" Frieze, NYC, 2013

Inside the fair the crowd was bustling and there was clearly no dearth of collectors, yet one thing you noticed immediately was that there was space to breathe and plenty of room to contemplate the art without feeling like a sardine, much like one does at Armory, Frieze, London or (any of the now three) Basel's. The bright, airy and expansive atmosphere reminded me of the Independent art fair I had attended in March at Dia's former digs in Chelsea, except that the vast Frieze tent, designed by the Brooklyn company SO-IL, also happened to offer up some fantastic eats from local favorites like the Fat Radish, Mission Chinese, and Marlow & Sons, just in case you were suffering from "fair fatigue" after viewing the art on display by the180 international galleries on exhibit. These days no art fair would be complete without the additional gastronomic accoutrements, and this year Frieze even added a tribute to the legendary artist-run, pay-what-you-wish restaurant "FOOD," opened in SoHo in 1971 by Gordon Matta- Clark and Carol Goodden. I was excited about FOOD until I realized they were serving up an unlikely combination of kim chi, beef jerky, pickles, cheese and Tang on plastic cafeteria trays for a whopping $15. This was clearly NOT about the food.

FOOD, 1971, SoHo NYC

If you found the thought of paying 15 bucks for TANG hard to swallow, there was always one of two VIP bars or even better, "The Vault," artist Liz Glynn's secret Prohibition-style bar hidden away in an undisclosed location within the fair. At "The Vault" however, not even your VIP card would gain you access, as keys for the secret bar/artwork were apparently distributed "at random" to only a chosen few, who could then enjoy cocktails poured by actors who recited stories based on the works of Franz Kafka and Jorge Luis Borges. Why is it every art fair now seems to include a bar as an artwork? Across town in Chelsea, German artist Tobias Rehberger opened his new pop up art bar, the Oppenheimer, at the new Hôtel Americano, to coincide with Frieze this year. This looked like a remake of the one I visited on Benesse's "art island" in Naoshima, Japan and was apparently an exact replica of Rehberger's bar in Frankfurt. Yes I agree- art, artists and libations do go so well together, but since visiting Eduardo Sarabia's "Salon Aleman," featuring his own home made tequila, which I first sampled at the United Nations Plaza in Berlin back in 2006, I have never encountered a better "art bar." Perhaps it had something to do with the fact that the venue in Berlin was also a "night school" for contemporary art, rather than a commercial art fair.

Anyhow, enough about the accoutrements, what about the art? This was an art fair was it not? Yes indeed, yet another art fair, as if New York needed another one. Armory week, this past March, was a veritable art smorgasbord that included no less than nine satellite fairs, from which I am still reeling. Gallerists now have to travel through several time zones to exhibit at a minimum of 5-6 art fairs a year, and now we have Basel, Hong Kong to boot. I applaud the efforts of those gallerists who tirelessly promote their artists worldwide, that is dedication, but do we really need a Frieze on both sides of the pond? Some think Frieze, NY will replace New York's stuffy old Armory show, others wonder if, due to the strong US collector base, European galleries will switch allegiance from the London fair to New York. Either way, it looks like Frieze, NY is taking over.

Last year, the inaugural edition of Frieze, New York offered a strong showing of North American work, with 35 percent of participating galleries coming from North America, 51 percent from Europe and 14 percent from other regions. This year those proportions remained more or less consistent. The London fair, on the other hand, has a higher European-to-American ratio; last year, about 63 percent of the galleries came from Europe and 24 percent from North America. Matthew Slotover, one of the fair organizers stated however, that there was already a high crossover of gallery applications for the two fairs, suggesting that galleries consider it worthwhile showing in both cities. Ozkan Canguven of Gallery Rampa in Istanbul, who exhibited twice at Frieze London before going to Frieze New York last year, said that the New York edition had been the best fair the gallery had ever done. "I had thought we would do better business in Europe, but New York had such an international crowd of collectors," she said. "Americans, Brazilians, Mexicans, and lots of Europeans." Maureen Paley, whose London gallery has been a longtime Frieze participant, exhibited at both the London and New York Frieze fairs last year, said that it seemed obvious to her that the opportunity to be in New York was prime time on the international arts calendar, and not to be missed. But one wonders if the pool of international collectors is large enough to absorb this seemingly, ever expanding art market? If one looks at the increasing number of international art fairs, the recent record-breaking auction results for contemporary art, and the proliferation of new online art commerce sites, it would seem so.

This June there is Art Basel (in Basel) and the Biennale in Venice, but I have decided to skip these to take a bit of a break from the incessant global art mash-up. I think many of us our suffering from "fair fatigue," but as Roberta Smith duly noted in the New York Times, despite the fact that it is "fashionable to be snarky and condescending about art fairs…art fairs represent the collective efforts — if not the hopes and dreams — of thousands of people who want art to be at the center of their lives." And this is why we always come back. Despite the rampant nepotism in the art world elite, the "art world" is still one of the last places to discover something unique, beautiful and intellectually engaging, amidst our vapid and all encompassing media landscape. Something, that whether a commodity or not, grabs our attention, makes us think and stirs some deeper emotion within us. This is the draw, and this is what keeps us coming back, so if we are able to stop and focus on the art without being distracted for more than 5 minutes, there is some great work to discover, especially at Frieze this year.

Certainly one of the most-talked-about works at the fair (and one which considers the "distraction dilemma") was Tino Sehgal's Ann Lee at Marianne Goodman's booth. This performance piece featured a Japanese manga character "borrowed" from French artists Pierre Huyghe and Philippe Parreno. Brought to life by one of Sehgal's "interpreters," a waifish adolescent girl engaged in conversation with fair-goers and posed questions like, "would you rather feel too busy, or not busy enough?" and "What is the relation between sign and melancholia?" The revolving cast of young, female "interpreters" who played Ann Lee, were poised, yet rather unnerving in their robotic movements. It was clear some audience members were not quite sure if she was human or some sort of "replicant." This work is typical of Sehgal's oeuvre, which consists of dematerialized works that only take place as oral exchanges and focus on human interaction, situation and confrontation. The performance piece was a bold statement that put the emphasis on the essence of art in its ephemeral form, and posed questions about our preoccupation with constantly feeling busy, fulfilled, distracted and entertained, which was entirely relevant within the context of the spectacle at hand. Tino Sehgal, a 2013 Turner Prize nominee, was also just awarded the Gold Lion Award for Best Artist at the Venice Biennale, the art world's version of the Academy Awards.

Tino Sehgal, Ann Lee, Marianne Goodman

Another standout this year was Korean artist, Do Ho Suh's recreation of his Berlin flat rendered in translucent green polyester at Lehmann Maupin. Do Ho Suh is renowned for his site-specific installations that manipulate scale to emphasize the malleability of space and examine the issues of cultural identity and anonymity.

Do Ho Suh, Weilandstrasse 18, 12159 Berlin, 2011, Lehmann Maupin

Another major work that was hard to miss was a solo presentation at Gavin Brown's Enterprise, by the Norwegian provocateur Bjarne Melgaard. The booth featured lavender colored walls, brightly colored blankets piled on the floor, and equally vivid canvases. It was apparently some sort of elegy to Theresa Duncan, the artist and wife of Jeremy Blake (both who committed suicide in New York in 2007). Another piece that really turned heads was a work by Daniel Firman at Galerie Perrotin. Similar to Sehgal's "interpreter," this doppelganger of a young woman in a black skirt and stylish wedgies, was found leaning against the wall, pulling her sweater over her head, as if to say she had had enough art for one day and could look no more. She was not a living, breathing actor like Sehgal's Ann Lee, but rather an uncanny sculpture made of wood.

 Daniel Firman
Daniel Firman, Linda, 2012, Galerie Perrotin

Over at Luhring Augustine, Tom Friedman's kitschy, enlarged sculptures of Hostess cupcakes, pizza and Wonderbread carried on the food theme, but I much preferred Jeppe Hein's large mirrored "Rotating Views," at Johann König, and another work made with cracked mirrors by Doug Aitken, a wall-mounted sculpture featuring the word "ART." While the use of glass, text and mirrors seems ubiquitous at these fairs, this medium does successfully lend itself to the "black mirror" effect, and Aitkin's blatant critique, just like McCarthy's "Ballon Dog" did elicit a smile.

Doug Aitken's wall-mounted sculpture "ART."

Around town, Dan Colen seemed inescapable with another large glass sculpture, comprised of plexi glass basketball backboards, on view at Gagosian's booth. Colen also had recently created works at all three auction houses, where the 33-year-old achieved record prices for two of his "bubble gum" canvases, covered in wads of saccharine, pastel colored chewing gum at Sotheby's Contemporary Evening Sale and at Christie's 11th Hour benefit, organized by Leonardo DiCaprio. Colen also had work on display at Vito Schnabel and David Rimanelli's show DSM-V, at the future Moynihan Station that featured the likes of Picasso, Basquiat, and Warhol alongside more contemporary contributors like Cecily Brown and Urs Fischer.

Dan Colen, 53rd and 3rd, Chewing gum and paper on canvas, 2008, sold at Sotheby's for 1,085,000 USD

This year, NADA, the well-respected satellite fair, run by the New Art Dealers Association, was held at Basketball City on Pier 36 in the LES. It was an odd venue (what with the unsightly grey carpeting covering the courts and the basketball scoreboards still up), and I only had two hours to run through the fair, but there was a great mix of good work to be found. I loved the mixed media paintings of Athens born, Berlin based, Despina Stokou at Derek Eller, and Nicholas Frank's paint splattered surfaces, displayed on the floor at Milwaulkee's impressive Green Gallery, run by John Riepenhoff. I would have bought one of 26 year old Andrew Brischler's beat up-looking, minimalist color field paintings at Sarah Gavlak, but they were completely sold out. At least I got to meet the affable up and coming artist in person. At Invisible-Exports, one of the many new LES galleries, Lisa Kirk and Scott Treleavea's works were of interest and young L.A. dealer, Anat Egbi presented a solid solo show of Joe Reihsen's abstract works. A new discovery that I absolutely fell in love with was Natalie Karg's/Cumulus Studios. Her booth featured "art by the yard" and outdoor functional pieces by artists like Liam Gillick and Rirkrit Tiravanija. Her booth was minimally hung with several bolts of fabric in different commissioned designs by Bob Pruitt, Jack Pierson, Billy Sullivan and Elen Berkenblit, along with Liam Gillick's powder coated aluminum side tables in traffic yellow, green and red-just in case you want to add a dash of conceptual art to your garden or terrace. Also unforgettable was a poignant tribute to young artist-gallerist Daniel Reich, who took his own life in 2012. The bright yellow booth featured a short one-page memoriam and painted portrait of the dynamic art world personality, who was known for going up against the Chelsea hegemony. RIP Daniel, you will be missed.

Daniel Reich
Daniel Reich Tribute NADA Artfair


After trying to fit in 2 days at Frieze, drop in at NADA, and check out Cutlog (the rather lackluster new French fair also in the LES), I skipped the other satellite fairs like PULSE and headed uptown to check out both previews at Sotheby's and Christie's instead. I was overwhelmed at the sheer number of works on view at both auction houses and I even had to leave my colossal stack of auction catalogues in New York, since I would have needed an extra suitcase just to carry them home. Overall, the auction houses were offering more lots this May than in 2012, and they ended up selling more this season as well, making history with record-breaking prices for several artists. Christie's realized an incredible $495 million in a single sale — its May 15 evening auction of postwar and contemporary art — marking the highest-ever total for any category in its entire history. Record prices were set for 12 contemporary artists, including Jean-Michel Basquiat, Jackson Pollock and Roy Lichtenstein. Sotheby's sale of contemporary art only brought in a "mere" $293.6 million, however they still managed to set records for artists like Barnett Newman and Gerhard Richter. At Christie's Jackson Pollock's drip painting "No. 19, 1948" sold to an anonymous bidder for $58.3 million. The last time this work came to auction in 1993 it went for $2.4 million….nice profit. Even the pros were reeling. "It shows how broad the market is — as in deep pockets," said dealer Larry Gagosian, and at the end of the evening sale at Christie's, auctioneer Jussi Pylkkanen remarked on the sheer number of bidders willing to drop more than $20 million and remarked "We are in a new era of the art market."

Jean-Michel Basquiat's Dustheads at Christie's Post-War and Contemporary Art auction. Sold for $48.8m

It is no secret that the pursuit of contemporary art has become a defining marker of wealth and social status for the 1%, and with the current lack of attractive investment options for the wealthy, many of those at the top have decided to diversify their portfolios and park their cash in art. But how are these billionaires, oligarchs, sheiks and hedge fund managers actually impacting the art market? There has been much outcry about this by critics like David Hickey and Sarah Thornton, who have refused to write about the astronomical art market any further. In Thornton's article "The Top Ten Reasons NOT to write about the Art Market" she complains that "it gives too much exposure to artists who attain high prices," "It implies that money is the most important thing about art," and that "it enables manipulators to publicize the artists whose prices they spike at auction." According to critics, the current market system ends up legitimizing and promoting artists simply because of contrived economic accomplishments, which in many cases are buoyed by speculation, dubious art market insiders looking to raise the value of their own art holdings, and third-party guarantors who have undisclosed interests. Part of the problem is that the neutrality of an auction is lost with works that are guaranteed because underwriters can bid on a work they've guaranteed in order to make a profit. The stakes are high and a guarantor can earn several million dollars on a single lot. Critics argue they have an unseen advantage over other bidders because a buyer who wants a work might wind up competing against someone who only wants to bid up the price. That means that auction records — the industry's prime metric for measuring value — are not always accurate, and when the top prices for a particular artist are only reached via these kinds of behind-the-scenes deals, it is reasonable to ask whether it is indicative of the real art market at all.

The sales also featured a strong representation of works by younger artists, which some say has become Phillip de Pury's specific niche. Tauba Auerbach's "Untitled (Fold)" sold for a record $290,500 to New York dealer Alberto Mugrabi and Dan Colen's bubble gum-on-canvas "S&M" (2010), sold for a record $578,500 (estimated at $200-300,000) to New York art advisor Wendy Cromwell. Similar works by the likes of Nate Lowman, Sterling Ruby, Carol Bove, Joe Bradley, Adam McEwen, Mark Grotjahn, Ryan McGuinness, Kehinde Wiley and the Bruce High Quality Foundation could be found throughout the auctions, many of which set record prices for these artists. Since its launch in the spring of 2005, Christie's First Open sale, where collectors can discover emerging artists, has become a fixture on the global contemporary art circuit. Just how are these new record- breaking auction results affecting these young artists and their art production? If Larry Gagosian is right and the market is really that broad, then perhaps it won't matter; artists will sell, galleries and art fairs will boom and everyone wins…but perhaps the art market is being filled with a lot o hot air, fuelled by speculation and inflated prices and perhaps, like McCarthy's "balloon dog," its anther bubble waiting to burst.


Melissa Steckbauer
Melissa Steckbauer

SBFA is pleased to announce our representation of American artist Melissa Steckbauer. Steckbauer's mixed media works on paper and photo-based collages explore the complexities of human relationships, communication and sexual identity. Over the last ten years she has been studying and producing artwork about intimacy and communication with a femme-based approached. She began her practice working primarily in two-dimensional mediums such as oil, acrylic, graphite, and watercolor. In the last two years, however, she has transitioned to a multi-media and photographic based practice, focusing on themes such as tenderness and presence. Steckbauer takes a subjective approach to her photographs with an aim to minimize the level of invasiveness in the subject-photographer relationship, but still allow for an intimate and honest exchange. She then applies the use of collage strictly for its ornamental and aesthetic properties. Steckbauer explains, "the medium of collage offers a strong range of physical possibilities that may also be completely upended by virtue of it's material structure." Steckbauer weaves the photographs together with other images and materials and makes up multiple, patterned, and geometric cuts. The formal, ornamental layer is meant to gently divorce the photograph from its personal content, first destroying the image and then rebuilding it as an object. Her images are sourced from her personal archive of old family photos as well as photographs of members of her own social circle in Berlin. Melissa Steckbauer has been the recipient of numerous awards and has had solo exhibitions at the LSD Galerie in Berlin, Van der Stegen Gallery in Paris, Sottopasso in Livorno, Italy, and IAF Shop in Fukuoka, Japan. She currently has a new solo show on view at Liebkranz Galerie in Berlin, entitled The Architectonics of Love. Melissa Steckbauer was born in 1980 in Tucson, Arizona. She received her BFA at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and studied Art History at Utrecht University and Fine Art at the Hogeschool voor de Kunsten in Utrecht. She currently lives and works in Berlin.

Drebin Capri
David Drebin, Capri

SBFA is pleased to announce our representation of Canadian photographer David Drebin. Drebin is a well known celebrity photographer, but has also has recently made a name for himself in the fine art field, with his photographs that may be categorized into close-ups, panoramas, tableaus, and interiors. Land-and cityscapes make up his vivid panoramas. From breathtaking dark seas reflecting city lights, to sand beaches lined with palms, to the haze of a sparkling metropolis, the panoramas draw us into the glamorous milieu of jet-setting sophisticates. Drebin's narratives are often centralized around women. Reminiscent of the surveillance of paparazzi, his photographs allow us a glimpse into the secret lives of these femme fatales. Despite the single frame of the image, he manages to convey complex emotions inherent to each personality. His glamorous characters are often caught up in some intrigue, as seen in his series of women photographing each other. The voyeuristic gaze is two-fold. Is this a play on vanity or feminine rivalry? Like a tabloid devotee, we long to uncover the details of the drama. The Morning After is a collection of images that reside on the border between art and fashion photography. Drebin, from exposure to print, enthralls us with the style and wit of his visual stories. We live vicariously through his characters, and relish in the fantasy evoked by his images. David Drebin has exhibited at Camera Work in Berlin, Fahey Klein Gallery in L.A., Guy Hepner Gallery in London, and most recently had a solo show at Contessa Gallery in Cleveland, Ohio. David Drebin was born in Toronto, Canada and studied at Parsons School of Design, NY, he currently lives and works in New York City.

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Introducing New SBFA Artists
Angel Chen, Daniel Fuller and Werner Pawlok

Report from ARCO Madrid and Armory Week New York

SBFA Holds Two Successful Benefit Auctions in
New York and Los Angeles

Werner Pawlok, House of Luisa Faxas, 2004

Introducing New SBFA Artists Angel Chen, Daniel Fuller and Werner Pawlok

This month SBFA is pleased to introduce three new artists to our online gallery roster. Joining us from Los Angeles are painter Angel Chen and photographer Daniel Fuller; and from Germany, photographer Werner Pawlok. Now on view is Werner's "Cuba Expired" series, which features interior and exterior photographs of iconic Havana, Cuba. Werner's vivid, colorful and saturated photographic prints on velvet paper highlight Havana's derelict baroque estates and abandoned palaces, with their ornate yet dilapidated, peeling paint facades. Werner's nostalgic shots of old theaters, film houses and classic American cars convey a romanticized timelessness to the Caribbean metropolis, yet his compositions also portray the crushing poverty in which the Habaneros live. Bereft of any human presence, these unforgettable interiors hint at the multitude of potential narratives within, yet reveal nothing, leaving much to the viewer's imagination. "Cuba Expired" is just one, of many series Werner has created in the past 30 years, throughout his many travels. His diverse oeuvre reflects his tireless will to overcome technical boundaries and his curiosity for the unknown. Werner Pawlok is based in Stuttgart and his work is included in many important collections, such as the Musée de l'Elysée (Lausanne), Fotografieforum (Frankfurt), the Museum of Modern Art (Ljubljana) and the Contemporary Art Gallery (Zürich).  

Angel Chen, Avalanche, 2011

SBFA is also very pleased to announce our representation of Los Angeles based artist Angel Chen. This month we are featuring her latest black and white "Landscape" series from 2011. Her monumental canvases harness the energy of the natural world using once-worn and now-discarded 'raw materials,' inspired by nature and all its fragile and harsh beauty. These gestural and abstract paintings represent "the sensuous over the intellectual, process over concept, and the act over the idea." With these works, Chen creates a new personal reality based on ancient forms. Elemental forces are articulated onto rough wood canvases through remnants of suede, silk chiffon, fur, and gauze. The conceptual realm of philosophy and the materialism of high fashion are blended into these extreme interior landscapes, merging into a whole. The duality evokes the eternal oppositions of masculine and feminine, visible and invisible, and life and death. Leaned, as opposed to hung, these works defy the planar surface of the canvas and occupy space as both painting and sculptural object. Ultimately they reveal hidden geometries and metaphysical forces within the subtext of the beautiful and sublime. Angel Chen was born in Taiwan and raised internationally. She received her BFA from UCLA and MFA from CalArts, and has since been the recipient of numerous prestigious awards and residencies including the Ahmanson Award, Skowhegan Residency, and commissions for the Annenberg Collection.

Daniel Fuller, "3:09 a.m. Playa Las Viudas", C-print, 2010

Finally, SBFA is excited to introduce the photographic work of Daniel Fuller. As a photographer and a internationally renowned professional surfer Daniel Fuller has traveled the world and observed and experienced how the mind perceives rapidly transforming visual realities often within, physically life threatening situations. For his latest series, "Night for Day," Fuller has created images of an invisible world in a reversal of the day for night film technique, where the moon acts as a reflector of the sun creating the resemblance of daylight within these nocturnal scenes. Shot between midnight and 5 am during the brightest full moon at the waters edge in Hawaii and Mexico, Fuller's long night time exposures capture hauntingly beautiful locations such as "Insanities," "Keiki's," "Three tables," "Hanakapi'a i," "Monster Mush," and "Playa Las Viudas." These photographs act as an extension of time during images that build themselves according to the movements of natural forces. Clouds, water, and sand shift with wind to perform painterly strokes of light set against the constants of the horizon and the immovable rock formations. Here the unreality of day is built out of darkness. Inspired by the landscape and seascape photography of Ansel Adams, Hiroshi Sugimoto, and Andreas Gursky, Fuller has positioned his photographic practice against the notion of the decisive moment and instead creates the opportunity for the photograph to demonstrate a drawn out convergence of natural forces. The performance of creating these photos presents continuity with his surfing where stamina and spatiotemporal projection displays a striking existential relationship between the natural elements and the camera. Fuller performs so nature can perform its self-painting process. Daniel Fuller is currently based in Los Angeles.

Report from ARCO Madrid and Armory Week New York, 2013

Mario Ybarra Jr., Honor Fraser Gallery booth (L.A.), ARCO Madrid

Now in its 32nd year, the premier Iberian Contemporary art fair, ARCO Madrid returned to the Spanish capital this February amidst economically harsh and politically turbulent times. Despite managing to retain high attendance rates, ARCO and its participants have certainly felt the recession. According to some gallerists, the slump in the art market has been further compounded by a dramatic rise in VAT. This increased taxation, as well as the high price of booths, sparked the exit of eight of the eleven Catalan galleries due to appear at ARCO 2013. Despite continued protests taking place throughout Spain, the inauguration of the fair was abuzz with the arrival of Prince Felipe and Princess Letizia, who attended to admire artwork on display from 202 galleries around the world. Curated sections included the Turkey FOCUS program, with galleries selected by Vasif Kortun, director of SALT, Istanbul; Opening, which featured 22 young galleries; and the Solo Projects: with a Focus on Latin America. Despite free flowing cocktails provided by Bombay Sapphire in the Q:NO designed VIP lounge, the mood at the preview was not nearly as lively as previous years and many international gallerists cautiously brought mid-priced works to the fair. This did not necessarily take away from the quality of the work and there were several interesting booths to take note of. One stand out was L.A. gallery, Honor Fraser 's installation that featured a solo presentation by Mario Ybarra Jr. The entire booth was decked out like a butcher's shop, featuring flat painted sculptures that resembled pieces of meat, a la Oldenburg. This critique of art as commodity was quite fitting within the context of this particular art fair and especially prescient considering the wave of recent criticism by the likes of David Hickey and Sarah Thornton over skyrocketing prices and the driving demand for luxury art from the 1% amid widespread global economic crisis

Ylva Ogland, Fruit and Flower Deli booth (Stockholm), ARCO Madrid

Another booth that puzzled and delighted viewers, was the installation at Stockholm's Fruit and Flower Deli. Run by the ever elusive and always entertaining Rodrigo Mallea Lira, the gallery exhibited a group of small monochromatic paintings by Swedish artist Ylva Ogland (also Lira's partner). One could hardly inspect these canvases at close range since the booth was roped off with a gold chain and left unmanned and without lights. Apparently, Lira sold seven of these works for $13,000 each, despite efforts to thwart eager collectors. Another artist whose work I found of interest was Spanish artist Núria Güell at the Barcelona-based ADN Gallery. With titles such as Humanitarian Aid, Police Officers' Contribution, and Displaced Moral Application # 1: Exponential Growth, her works turn established practices and laws back on their enforcers, highlighting the hypocrisy and inequality inherent in many of our institutions. Her work creates a striking example of the potentially fruitful and functional relationship between art and activism, a theme that, not surprisingly, seemed quite prevalent at this year's ARCO.

Armory Show, 2013

Back in New York for the Armory Show's 100th year anniversary and Armory Arts week, held from March 5-10, I could barely keep up with the non-stop, breakneck pace of countless art events, fairs and exhibitions scheduled this year. Playing host to no less than 10 art fairs, New York was a buzz with openings, parties, benefits and dinners all over town for collectors, artists and art professionals alike. In between preparing for SBFA's benefit auction for Hurricane Sandy victims at Hamburg Kennedy Photographs in Chelsea, I was only able to fit in 4 fairs: Armory, Independent, Scope and the Spring/Break art Show in Soho. While Armory was really solid this year with several exciting new discoveries, I was thoroughly enamored with the Independent Art fair, held at the former DIA building in Chelsea. Independent's unique approach to the stale commercial art fair formula was conceived of by New York gallerist Elizabeth Dee, gallerist Darren Flook of Hotel Gallery in London, and developed in conjunction with creative advisor Matthew Higgs, director of White Columns. Independent, now in its fourth year, is a curated platform for commercial galleries and non-profit spaces that promotes artists who deal with conceptual, political, and social concerns. It was a breath of fresh air walking into the airy, sunlit, lofty space, devoid of the typical constricting white cubicles. The fact that this was a curated art fair was immediately evident and the airy and engaging environment encouraged exploration, rather than eliciting the usual trepidation over where to begin in a massive maze of competing images.

Slavs and Tatars at Berlin's Kraupa-Tuskany Zeidler Gallery @ Independent Art Fair, NY 2013

According to Independent co-director Jayne Drost Johnson, "At Independent we let the content of the participating galleries' presentations shape the architecture and design of the project, rather than fitting the work into pre-conceived spaces typical of a more traditional art fair format. There are curatorial considerations that are also taken into account when planning the layout of the project that are not typical of most fairs, so the project feels more like a collective exhibition." With more than 40 galleries and non-profit institutions showcasing works by established and lesser-known artists, spread over three floors, one could have easily spent all day here. Unfortunately, I had to rush through and barely had time to discuss any of the new work that I came across in the relaxing and collegial environment, but a few of my favorite highlights were Berlin's Kraupa-Tuskany Zeidler Gallery that featured a sparse yet engaging installation of colorful psychedelic silk screens and monochrome computer generated drawings of pot leaves from the 70's by Swedish artist Sture Johannesson (made in conjunction with IBM computer programmer Sten Kallin) and Slavs and Tatars' "When in Rome," an engraving in travertine, paint, colored glass, and Euro coins on the floor that read, "When in Rome do as the Romanians do." Typical of Slavs and Tatar's practice this work turned language into a polyphonic tool for disruption, humor, and unexpected meaning. Also wonderful was a large playful installation by Joanne Tatham and Tom O'Sullivan at one of my favorite galleries, Glasgow's Modern Institute. Meyer Riegger, from Karlsruhe, presented the delightful work of Björn Braun, who gathers abandoned birds nests in the wild, and sets tame finches to work festooning them with ribbons and colored thread in his studio. Liam Gillick had some interesting work on view at Maureen Paley, a Pin Board Project from his 2012 show at the London based gallery, and McCaffrey Fine Art had an impressive installation by Benin born artist Meschac Gaba, who recently had a show at the Studio Museum in Harlem.

This year Scope was located at the landmark Moynihan Station at the monumental New York Post Office building on 33rd Street between 8th and 9th Avenues. On par with the scale of the historic building itself and equally impressive, was artist Al Hamm's massive labyrinthine entrance composed of empty, re-cycled and re-purposed shipping crates. Upon entering the actual fair however, one felt rather let down by the cacophony of banal, commercial and decorative fodder. While Scope did offer a few eye catching, large scale installations, downtown the curator-driven Spring/Break Art Show, located in an old schoolhouse on Mott Street was much more interesting. The group curated show titled New Mysticism explored how digital semiotics, the internet and technology combined with the old relics of 20th century visual culture, to inform a new formal intuition. One highlight that still haunts me was a video work by Jeremy Blake, the talented and successful artist who committed suicide by walking into the ocean at Rockaway beach a few years ago. This psychedelic video work from his Winchester Trilogy was equally parts powerful, terrifying and beautiful and certainly a hard work to forget.

Nick Cave, Performance by Creative Time, NY, March 2013

While I could dedicate a whole other newsletter to the Armory Show itself, one stand out for me was Nick Cave's mesmerizing video work "Blot" and his "Untitled," sculptural work in mixed media at Jack Shainman Gallery. Cave's art world reputation comes from his "Soundsuits," described by Greg Cook as, "lavish, strange, beautifully-crafted outfits resembling mash-ups of African tribal ceremonial dress, Ku Klux Klan robes, Roman Catholic clergy vestments, yetis, Star Wars aliens, plumed and sequined carnival costumes, and fabulous drag queen gowns." In Cave's recent public performance presented by Creative Time and MTA Arts for Transit, he took over Grand Central Terminal's Vanderbilt Hall with a herd of thirty colorful life-size Alvin Ailey dancers dressed like horses in ornate, primitive looking, raffia costumes. Unfortunately, I missed this performance as I was in L.A. for SBFA's benefit auction at the Waterhouse Gallery, but Nick Cave is definitely one to watch and I look forward to catching another one of his live performances in the future.

Chelsea_interior LA
Benefit Auction at Hamburg Kennedy Photographs, NYC
Benefit Auction at Waterhouse Gallery, Los Angeles

SBFA Holds Two Successful Benefit Auctions in New York and Los Angeles for Rockaway to BK to LA: Artists and Surfers for Sandy Relief

Last, but certainly not least, we are very proud to announce that SBFA's two benefit auctions "Rockaway to BK to LA: Artists and Surfers for Sandy Relief," held last month in New York City and Los Angeles were a huge success. SBFA was instrumental in organizing these two events along with L.A. based artists Angel Chen and Lynn Grayson. With these two events we were able to raise funds for the rebuilding of Rockaway, Queens, post-hurricane Sandy. We are grateful for the tremendous amount of support we received for these events and for all those who turned out, both in New York and Los Angeles for the cause. We would like to warmly thank all the participants, especially those artists who so generously donated work and add a special thanks to our sponsor Marla Hamburg Kennedy who hosted our auction in NYC. We would also like to thank media sponsor Heidi Lee of Editioned Art and Matt Wesson in Venice Beach California, who hosted us at the Waterhouse Project in Los Angeles. Finally, we would also like to thank our dedicated online auction partner and sponsor Paddle 8 and all the collectors who bid on works from New York, LA, Toronto, Chicago, Dubai, Lima and Milan. Thanks to all those involved for making it a huge success! All proceeds will go to the Robinhood Sandy Relief Fund and the Graybeards of Rockaway.

Drebin Steckbauer
David Drebin
Melissa Steckbauer




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Carla andrade


Benefit Auction New York and Los Angeles

Carla Andrade and Boa Mistura

SBFA would like to thank all of you for your patronage and support this past year. 
We wish you a wonderful New Year and look forward to serving you in 2013.

Benefit Auction at Hamburg Kennedy Photographs, New York and RG Club, Los Angeles

This month SBFA is pleased to announce our participation in ROCKAWAY TO BK TO LA: ARTISTS AND SURFERS FOR SANDY RELIEF. This community-based, grass roots organization was initiated in 2012 in Rockaway, Queens, one of New York City's outlying, lower income communities, and a major haven for surfers and artists who live there, work there and surf there. The aim of the project is to raise funds for the rebuilding of this hard-hit coastal community following Hurricane Sandy. Since Super Storm Sandy struck, the areas of New York, New Jersey, Brooklyn and Queens have suffered massive devastation. While in other areas of the city, things seem to be back to normal, places like Rockaway, Queens are still trying to deal with the vast scope of Sandy's destruction. Lives have been lost, homes destroyed and businesses wiped out. Approximately 40,000 New Yorkers have been left homeless as a result of Sandy. The families most affected are some of this country's most vulnerable. Far too many residents of these areas are still struggling to rebuild their lives with limited public assistance. Reports coming out of New York's storm-struck Rockaway Peninsula have emphasized the lack of power in public housing blocks, the cold, the absence of food and supplies and the seeming neglect by FEMA and Red Cross relief efforts. Amid worsening weather conditions it is imperative that we provide further assistance to the most vulnerable victims of the storm.  


For this reason, artists and surfers from Rockaway, Queens to Red Hook, Brooklyn and further a field in Los Angeles have come together with the goal of raising money to help rebuild this vital shoreline community through the donation of artworks. The organization will host two major benefit auctions, at Hamburg Kennedy Photographs in New York City on March 14th and at RG Club in Los Angeles on March 21st, during the Venice Art Crawl. ROCKAWAY TO BK TO LA has also established a website at, where those who cannot attend our events in person can bid on all artworks online for a limited time only. You will also be able to preview the works at and with our media sponsor
Artists, galleries and dealers are invited to participate by donating artworks for auction and we invite everyone else to support this cause by bidding online and attending our upcoming auctions in NYC and Los Angeles. Please contact for further details.

All proceeds will go to the Robinhood Sandy Relief Fund and the Graybeards


Please go to to see participating artists and to support this cause.


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Carla Andrade and Boa Mistura

boa_studio boa_studio_5
Boa Mitsura in their Studio, Madrid
Order is Intangible, Madrid

SBFA is pleased to announce the addition of two new artists to our online gallery, photographer CARLA ANDRADE and the artist collective BOA MISTURA, both from Madrid. Boa Mistura, which means "good mixture," in Portuguese, refers to the diversity of perspectives of each member of this collective whose slogan is "Cinco cabezas, diez manos, un solo corazón."  The collective is composed of an Architect, a Civil Engineer, an Advertising and Public Relations grad, and two Fine Artists.  This young group does not just "tag" their local neighborhoods; rather, they have created socially engaged street art projects across the globe - in South Africa, Norway, Berlin, and Río de Janeiro that interact directly with the community. They recently collaborated with the architecture firm Ecosistema Urbano to intervene in the Spanish Pavilion at the Venice Biennale and have also taken part in exhibitions at the Museo Reina Sofía and Casa Encendida.  The group works in various fields: from the latest trends in graffiti and street murals, to illustration, graphic design, studio painting and collaborations with interior designers and architects.  Their multidisciplinary works represent a mix of perspectives which complement, influence and inform one another, effectively creating something novel and socially relevant within public space. They have taken part in exhibitions at the Reina Sofía Museum, Casa Encendida in Madrid, and the DA2 Museum in Salamanca, and have collaborated with foundations such as ONCE (Spanish national organization for the blind), Oxfam and Antonio Gala.  They have also given lectures at universities in Madrid, Seville and Alcalá de Henares, as well as created projects for brands such as Google, Microsoft, Sony Music and Adidas and in 2010 they won a Latin Grammy nomination for best cover design.

Javier Serrano Guerra, "Pahg," an architect from ETSAG in Madrid who specialized in landscape design at the IUAV in Venice.
Juan Jaume Fernández, "Derko," who graduated in Fine Art, specializing in photography and video, from the University of the Arts in Berlin.
Pablo Ferreiro Mederos, "Arkoh," who graduated in Fine Art, specializing in graphic design, from the TAIK University of Art and Design in Helsinki.
Pablo Purón Carrillo, "Purone," an illustrator who graduated in Advertising and Public Relations from the URJ (Universidad Rey Juán Carlos), in Madrid.
Rubén Martín de Lucas, "rDick," Civil Engineer from the UPM (Technical University of Madrid).

Please check out BOA MISTURA's presentation at TED-X TALKS here.

SBFA is also very pleased to present the work of Carla Andrade, a young Spanish photographer from Vigo, whose atmospheric, elusive and ephemeral landscapes are a central to her oeuvre. Her series of photographs entitled "Paisaxe Suspendida," reflect her interest in the aesthetic experience as a transformer of conscience. These sublime interpretations of snow capped mountains and vast open spaces were produced in Siglufjordur, Iceland during her artist residencies there. Andrade sees a metaphysical tension between man and nature and tries to convey this through her works. In the globalized and hyper-technical present Andrade re-interprets nature as a source of not just the sublime, but truth and beauty itself and sees the "silence" in the natural world as necessary for survival in our over-saturated media landscape. Her photographs suggest a longing for open spaces in which one can re-establish continuity with nature. Andrade, who was born in 1983, is a graduate of Communications Studies and is currently studying Philosophy in Madrid, she is self-taught as a photographer. Please go to SBFA's Special Offers page where we are currently featuring the work of Carla Andrade this month.

Andrade_2 Andrade_2
Carla Andrade, Paisaxe Suspendida, Negativo, 35 mm, 2011-2012


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This year’s edition of Frieze was definitely worth the trip thanks to the inauguration of Frieze Master’s, which offered a new (albeit old) twist on the typical contemporary art fair experience.  Even Frieze, undoubtedly one of the finest art fairs in the world, can be a tad tiresome, culling from the same pool of blue chip galleries, top tier artists and fashionable curators every year.  Whether you are in London, New York, Miami or Hong Kong, these tastemakers de rigeur are ever present, and with all this predictability you find yourself longing to see something completely and utterly different.  So this October, upon arriving at Frieze Master’s, across the park on Glouscester Green, instead of being greeted by the usual gargantuan Gagosian booth, I was pleasantly surprised with a refresher course in Art History 101.  The fair offered a unique contemporary perspective on historical art with over 90 galleries showcasing work made before the year 2000, ranging from the ancient era and old masters to the late 20th century. 

While one could still find William Eggleston, Cecily Brown or Robert Gober, what seemed to delight viewers was the unlikely juxtaposition of these late 20th Century Master’s with Ancient Egyptian art, Medieval gargoyles, 1st and 2nd Century Roman marble torsos, Megalithic axeheads and delicate 15th Century carved wooden angels from Sienna.  Between the usual mix of Calder, Picasso and ubiquitous Warhol and Basquait works, one could find an exquisite marble Carpeaux of Daphnis and Chloe, and even a Théodore Géricault canvas for less than the price of a Hirst.  I found it amusing to pick up invitation cards from Geneva’s De Jonckheere Gallery, featuring a miniature painting by Peter Brueghel the Younger, and a portrait by 16th century Dutch painter Corneille De Lyon - it was like getting an invitation to the Louvre.  It was no surprise then, when I to ran into Richard Feigen himself, holding court at his own booth, in a black lacquer Louis XIV chair. As a long-time collector of old master’s, with his own contemporary art gallery in Chelsea, and the much more established Richard L. Feigen and Co. uptown, he seemed the perfect embodiment of the concept of Frieze Master’s, successfully straddling both the ancient and modern.

According to fair director Victoria Siddall, “The worlds of contemporary and historic art – often institutionally sealed off from each other both in the academic and the commercial worlds – are opening up towards one another.  Non-contemporary art is what artists have been buying for years. Jeff Koons has been buying up old work, Corot and the like, for a fraction of the price of what his own work sells for. Frieze is picking up on what its own artists have been doing for a long time. They are brilliant at finding the right current, and picking up on what works commercially.  We are being offered a new way of looking at art. It's something of course that artists have always done – to look at their own work in relation to that of the past – but the rest of us are catching up."

This is a trend I welcome.  When I think back to all of the private collections I have worked on or the ones I have had the privilege of seeing as a guest, my favorite standouts are those that couple the old with the new. One that still remains in my memory is a private collection in East Hampton that featured a pair of Chinese Ming dynasty stone horses, an organic Henry Moore bronze, and monumental Baselitz and Basquiat canvases, all housed in an airy wood and glass beachfront home replete with Prouvè.  As a consultant I always encourage this approach.  Diversify.  Especially with the skyrocketing prices of Contemporary Art, now is the time to look back and invest in something besides just Post War and Contemporary.

Cecile B. Evans
Cécile B. Evans Performance

With the “old” still fresh in my mind, I moved on to Frieze proper, on the other end of the park, only to be greeted by one of my favorite British art historians, Simon Schama.  I wondered…was the art history lesson to be continued here?  The eloquent art historian, critic, and writer, and host of those wonderful BBC specials, starred as the host in an artwork titled “This is your audio guide” by 29 year old Belgian artist Cécile B Evans, who won this year’s EMDASH Award.  The guide is an alternative audio tour that does not provide names, dates or any other contextualizing historical information. Instead, it offered the commentary of people from outside the art world, responding to works of art in an entirely personal way.  With tiny holographic projections of Simon Schama posted in locations throughout the fair (a la R2-D2), the audio tour featured such diverse figures as Astronomer
 Yan Wong, former model, novelist, and television chef
 Sophie Dahl, and just for a dose of sarcasm - RT’s outspoken Max Keiser.  Evans approached around 120 people to take part and said "I've never been rejected so many times. Even luminaries such as Malcolm Gladwell and Adam Curtis demurred because they didn't feel qualified.”  It’s a shame that Adam Curtis demurred, as I am positive he would have some extremely interesting perspectives on this year’s work at the fair, especially Grizdale Arts “Colosseum of the Consumed,” the most engaging project I have seen at an art fair in a long time.

The “Colosseum of the Consumed,” a bespoke wooden structure, was built for Frieze Projects as a theater, market place, dining hall and project space.  Centered around the themes of art and food, it was conceptualized with the purpose of “translating artworks into useful action.” According to their leaflet, Grizdale Arts is “an arts organization based on a farm in the middle of nowhere. Or if you look at it another way, the most culturally complex 885 square miles in the British countryside: The English Lake District, home to the romantic movement, self righteous art, and avant garde refugees…”  My interest was immediately peaked by this, since I recently relocated to a farm in the middle of Andalucía myself, where we are surrounded by shepherds and like to refer to our house as “Walden II.”  The Colosseum structure conceived of by the Yangjiang Group, was meant to “reset the most basic building blocks of society, that is eating, the basest and most essential of all of our behaviors and the great leveler.”  This socially engaged project reflected an interest in the politics of food production and sustainability, as well as the passing along of tacit knowledge about farming and food cultivation.  I bought a potato from SPUD, which came in a brown paper shopping bag and included a history of the potato, its “diaspora papa,” and instructions on how to plant it and cultivate my own potatoes.  There was a fruit and veg stand, tea and cake stall, shelves chock full of fortifying “Ruskin Soup,” and Peter Liversidge even opened a “Sloe Gin Bar.”

My favorite project however, was Fernando García-Dory’s “Angry Farmers Milk Bar” where pints of milk could be purchased at whatever price the customer was willing to pay, as an action highlighting the major crisis the dairy industry in Wales has suffered caused by imposed price cuts.  Dairy farmers are now paid less for their milk than it costs them to produce it because supermarkets and retailers force down prices.   The result has been that there are now 40% less dairy farmers in Wales than there were in 2002.  Dory’s concept store may be read as an alternative way to build up an alliance between the liberal creative class (Frieze audience and participants) and the farming class, or as he states, “a Neo-narodnist impulse bringing together intelligentsia and peasantry as a historical social subject for major change.”  This brilliant, prescient and influential project has highlighted Dory as one of the most important contemporary artists working in Spain today and I look forward to following his work in the future, (and hopefully joining one of his mobile cheese production units!)

Angry Farmers
Angry Farmers Milk Bar, Fernando García-Dory, 2012

Before flying into London for Frieze I spent three days between the 4th and the 7th of October, visiting over 30 artists studios for Open Studio Madrid.  While I have attended many galleries, museums and of course ARCO every year, I have never really had the chance to get to know the artist scene in Madrid before, so this was the perfect opportunity.  Spread out across all barrios in Madrid, I “schlepped” my way from the glitzy neighborhoods of Salamanca and Retiro to the historic and quaint Zona Sol-Palacio and Justicia-Universidad, with its narrow, winding streets, and much less enticing neighborhoods filled with low rent artists studios and light-filled, lofty warehouses.  Of note was RAMPA, an independent production space for artists, located in the suburb of Carabanchel.  This residency for development and cultural exchange featured the work of several artists, some Spanish and some foreign, including Terénce Pique, a young French artist from Monaco, who presented a photographic archive that reflected upon the concept of “dwelling” through the effects of the Spanish real estate bubble with photographs, maps and a well designed leaflet that included grainy black and white photos of over-developed areas and now abandoned real estate projects around Spain. Also of interest at RAMPA were the drawings of Theo Firmo, a young artist from São Paulo, whose tactile works on paper focus on the narrative process, language, its contexts and possible relations. 

Terénce Pique
Terénce Pique, Maldicion y Prosperidad

Over by the vibrant neighborhood of Malasaña I attended a lively opening at the engaging Boa Mitsura space.  Boa Mistura, which means "good mixture," in Portuguese, refers to the diversity of perspectives of each member of this collective of “graffiti rockers” whose slogan is “Cinco cabezas, diez manos, un solo corazón.”  The collective is composed of an Architect, a Civil Engineer, an Advertising and Public Relations grad, and two Fine Artists.  This young group does some of the slickest and most socially engaged street art I have seen and have developed projects in South Africa, Norway, Berlin, and Río de Janeiro. They recently collaborated with the architecture firm Ecosistema Urbano to intervene in the Spanish Pavilion at the Venice Biennale and have also taken part in exhibitions at the Museo Reina Sofía and Casa Encendida.  Watch out Bansky these kids are off the hook. 

Boamitsura São Paulo Boamitsura studio
Boa Mitsura, Luz nas Vielas. São Paulo
Boa Mitsura studio

Down the street, at another opening that evening, there was more street art to be found, in an old abandoned building called Estudio Noviciado.  This was another graffiti collective, which consisted of Spok, Remed, 3ttman, Nano4814 and Luciano Suárez.  While I am not normally a huge graffiti fan, I remained impressed with the projects I had just seen at Boa Mistura and wanted to see more.  As it turned out, this group of artists at Estudio Noviciado had also done some impressive “interventions” of their own, and 3ttman, Remed and Nano4814 all proved to be just as adept “off the wall” as on.  These artists have done major wall murals in Tokyo, New York, Berlin and Rio de Janiero, and each had some wonderful works on site as well.  Given a private tour by their gallerist, the lovely and engaging Pilar Lleó, whose iam gallery is located over on San Blas, I got some great insight into the Madrileno art scene, “from the ground up” so to speak.    In yet another re-purposed building, El Espacio Vacio, I was given a tour of a group show by the artists themselves, since the curator was not present.  One standout here was the work of Carla Andrade, whose atmospheric landscape photographs are quite impressive for someone who has not even been formally trained. Born in 1983, in Vigo, Spain, she is currently a philosophy student at the University of Madrid, but has already done 2 artist residencies in Sweden and Iceland and produced some wonderful work there.  SBFA has invited Carla to join our online roster and we will be showcasing her work next month in December’s issue.

Carla Andrade
Carla Andrade, Paisaxe Suspendida Negativo, 35 mm, 2011-2012





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This month SBFA is pleased to offer several new editions in our ART FOR KIDS series.  These playful, imaginative and colorful works on paper by renowned artists such as Marcel Dzama, Polly Apfelbaum, Yoshimoto Nara and Takashi Murakami will brighten up your child's playroom, bedroom or study and add inspiration to your home for the whole family.  Inspired by a recent trip to the Okayama Prefecture Museum to see Japanese author and artist, Gomi Taro's exhibition of children's drawings with my own three year old son, I thought it would be wonderful to put together a small collection of well-priced, easily collectable, contemporary artworks dedicated to the little ones in our lives.

Growing up, the paintings and prints that my mother hung around the house were always a source of inspiration for me, and a book that my grandmother gave me when I was just seven years old called "Picasso for Children" was what started my own life-long love of art.  It is never too early to cultivate art appreciation in our children and this is easily accomplished with educational family trips to museums and art exhibits, by providing a growing library of visually compelling books, and best of all, by hanging inspiring and imaginative artworks in your very own home for everyone to enjoy.  Whether they are original paintings, prints or posters - it doesn't matter, the important thing is to provide our children with visual stimulation for their developing imaginations.

SBFA is pleased to offer this wonderful new selection of artwork that will provide enjoyment for all and cultivate a lifelong appreciation of art.  We are also pleased to announce the inclusion of two new artists from Hong Kong, Alex Heung and Carol Lee Mei-Kuen, whose original works on paper are being offered exclusively at SBFA for a limited time only.

Please go to our Special Offers Page to see our ART FOR KIDS offer.





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Japan's Secret Art Destination

Prints starting at $500

This month SBFA is pleased to offer several new prints at our online gallery in partnership with Kayrock Editions.  Since 1998 Kayrock has specialized in hand printed fine art editions, posters, books, and graphic design.  Kayrock's artist's editions have been exhibited at P.S. 1 Contemporary Art Center, NY; The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston TX; The Kitchen, NY; and Jessica Murray Projects, NY.  Please go to our Online Gallery to see exciting new works by some of New York’s most promising emerging artists, starting at as little as $500.   

  schiele      dollarhide      larocca
   Please click here for SBFA's exclusive Kayrock Print offer.

Japan's Secret Art Destination

Located on a small cluster of islands, in Japan’s Seto Inland Sea, is billionaire businessman Soichiro Fukutake’s sprawling art mecca, an inspired and visionary culmination of art, architecture and nature, tucked away in the most unlikely of all places, a few tiny fishing villages situated between Shikoku and Honshu in Kagawa prefecture. To get there, one must take a three and half hour bullet train from Tokyo to Okayama, a local train to Uno Port and a ferry, but once you have arrived at this serene seaside retreat you will be delighted and amazed at what you will find.   In addition to the exceptional architecture, there are site-specific works from the likes of James Turrell, Walter de Maria, Chiharu Shirota, Piilotti Rist and Janet Cardiff, to name only a few.  Depending upon which route you take, you will also come across Chinese artist Cai Guo-Qiang’s “Cultural Melting Bath” at the pristine Benesee Museum Hotel site; a traditional Japanese wooden house, re-purposed as a Tobias Rehberger designed café; "Les Archives du Cœur" French artist, Christian Boltanski’s, “listening archive,” comprised of heartbeats from around the world; or Japanese artist Markio Mori’s awe-inspiring, glowing orb, hovering in pond, surrounded by a bamboo forest.  There is also an entire museum in Naoshima dedicated to celebrated Korean artist Lee Ufan.  When you are tired and need to rest your feet, you can literally dip into the art itself, in Shinro Ohtake’s delightfully kitschy “I Luv Yu” public bathhouse, which is decorated with a life-sized elephant taken from a Hokkaido sex museum and collages made up of erotic Edo Period shunga prints.  There is literally something for everyone here, not to mention the idyllic natural surroundings.


The project, developed over the last 20 years, includes site-specific artists projects, public sculpture, re-purposed buildings and several museums dotted across Naoshima, Teshima and Inujima islands. The focal point of the art site is the Benesse House Museum, which was opened in 1992 by the Fukutake Art Museum Foundation.  Located in Naoshima, the largest of the three islands, the Tadao Ando–designed hotel and museum complex features artworks ranging from Jasper Johns, Jackson Pollock, Cy Twombly, Sam Francis, and Robert Rauschenberg to Jannis Kounellis, Alberto Giacometti, Richard Long and Nam June Paik.  Perhaps one of the most memorable pieces is Bruce Nauman’s neon wall entitled “100 Live and Die,” but also impressive, were the monumental Richard Long floor sculptures made up of driftwood and stones.  The museum also houses a wonderful collection of photographs by Hiroshi Sugimoto, Thomas Struth and Thomas Ruff. 

Based on the concept of the "coexistence of nature, art and architecture," the facility consists of four buildings, all designed by Ando: the Museum, Oval (opened in 1995), Park and Beach (both opened in 2006).  Situated on a hill and connected to the Museum by a private monorail, the distinctive Oval features six large rooms that offer views of the Inland Seto Sea from their floor to ceiling windows.  The Park is literally part of the museum and as a guest here you can enjoy the privilege of perusing the collection after hours, all on your own if you so wish, a feature which makes the ¥40,000 room rate almost worth it, or you can opt to stay right on the beach in the larger family rooms.  While the hotel is not a place where one would likely plan a weekend away with the kids, there are more child-friendly sites such as the public sculptures scattered across the island, the most famous of which, is Yayoi Kusama’s large red and yellow polka-dotted pumpkins, which I took great delight in watching my son frolic about in by the shore.  Equally amusing was witnessing a bus load of Japanese schoolgirls squeal with delight when they came across the colorful Karel Appel and Nikki de Saint Phalle animal sculptures.


In addition to the Benesee House there is the Chichu Museum, which is an amazing architectural site and artwork in and of itself.   Built directly into the side of the hill, this “bunker” of a museum is located, for the most part, underground. Constructed in 2004 as a site that “rethinks the relationship between nature and people” the structure took form as the artists and architect bounced ideas off each other.  The building, also designed by Tadao Ando, is only lit with natural light, brilliantly changing the appearance of the artworks and the ambience depending upon the seasons.  The small collection features just three artists’ works, Claude Monet’s famed “Water Lilies,” James Turrell’s site-specific light installations and a monumental Walter De Maria installation.  Once inside, the museum is a truly engaging space, but one would never suspect this upon arriving at the stark, minimal and barely noticeable façade.  After being dropped off by the private Benesee bus at the top of the hill, you must make your way down a path where you pass through a vivid recreation of Monet’s own garden in Giverny.  Walking past the delicate willow trees, irises and water lilies, you continue up a path where you finally reach the museum, which looks like nothing but a concrete wall with an empty doorframe in the side of the hill.  Once passing through a long subterranean tunnel you enter an outdoor space that is pure geometry mixed with open sky, earth and natural light.  The concrete ramp up to the exhibition rooms features a perfectly cut rectangular aperture, which filters more natural light into to cavernous space.  Looking up from the outside you see a concrete triangle juxtaposed against the blue sky.  Turrell and DeMaria’s influences are very much alive here, and while Ando’s structure is reduced to the very limit, with the incorporation of earth, sky and natural light, the concrete building eschews the usual coldness of minimal architecture and feels entirely harmonious and at one with nature.


Before entering any of the exhibition rooms you must remove your shoes and no photographs are permitted.  Slippers are provided and the number of visitors is limited to avoid crowds.  James Turrell presents light itself as his art and the artist is perfectly suited for this space. The museum selected three works from the beginning of his career to the present, enabling visitors to experience the changes in his work throughout the years.  “Open Sky,” similar to his work at MoMA’s PS1, which was commissioned by Alanna Heiss in 1986, is an installation composed of a small room with a square opening cut directly into the ceiling.  Carefully calculated artificial lights produce a different colored glow on the white walls of the room, and as the sky changes color, so to, does the light in the room.  Turrel’s P.S.1 piece is a must see for anyone in New York, but the work at Naoshima is all the more engaging with the Chichu’s unbeatable, unique setting and the coastal light.  “Open Sky” may be viewed after hours with an advanced reservation in order to experience the work during sunset, which I would highly recommend.


Further a field the art pilgrimage continues.  Hopping back on the Benesee bus you can also opt to stop off and visit the Lee Ufan museum, yet another collaboration between Ando and renowned Korean artist Lee Ufan, who represented Korea with his critically acclaimed solo exhibition at the 52nd Venice Biennale in 2007.  The Ando-designed, semi-underground structure houses paintings and sculptures by Ufan spanning a period from the 1970s to the present day.  Located in isolation in a valley surrounded by mountains and sea, Ufan’s work explores the “art of emptiness” and his paintings and sculptures are thought provoking, yet beautiful in their simplicity.  The “art of emptiness” and the conflux of nature, art and architecture reign supreme in Soichiro Fukutake’s utopian art mecca, but the most exemplary manifestation of this vision may be found on the smaller island of Teshima at the Teshima Art Museum, which we visited on our second day.  Another tiny fishing community, with no more than a thousand inhabitants, Teshima is an inconspicuous island where rice fields cover the steppes cultivated into its hilly terrain.   Teshima must also be reached by ferry, and after arriving at Ieura port, the museum may only be accessed by taking a local bus or renting a motorized bicycle.  Situated atop a hill, over looking the Seto Inland Sea, this stunning architectural achievement, which is collaboration between artist Rei Naito and architect Ryue Nishizawa, does not look like any building, but rather, like a bulbous drop of water, about to spill over the hillside.  The globular concrete shell undulates with the landscape and stretches over 60 meters long, revealing two ocular apertures, through which you see blue sky and the gently swaying branches of neighboring trees, green with foliage. 


A bucolic walk down a mysterious winding path through the forest, overlooking the sea, brings you to a small tunnel; the enigmatic entrance to this “museum,” a void, which in fact, houses nothing.  The “artwork” here, is an installation by artist Rei Naito entitled “Matrix” and it is meant to be a "vessel to appreciate nature.”  The work consists of nothing more than water, concrete, and the Architectural Design of Ryue Nishizawa.  The smooth undulating surface of the concrete floor captures small pools of water that bubble up from underground in tiny holes distributed unevenly throughout the structure.  This constant flow of water is propelled by the wind that enters through the apertures in the ceiling.  The water gathers and dissipates in small rivulets and miniscule streams that converge and diverge just as quickly.  The experience requires total communion with nature and the space itself, and most visitors, with shoes removed, choose to enjoy the site, lying down in silence on the floor.  The engineers were able to fine-tune the unusual and non-orthogonal profile by using a large number of iterations to accurately and cheaply set out 3,500 points that optimally approximated the curve, and what Nishizawa and Naito ultimately achieved is a 250mm thick slab of white cement that arcs 4.5m high, perfectly combining art and architecture with earth, water, and air in a novel and sublime way.  This is truly “the art of escape” and for all its “emptiness” Naoshima and Teshima are chock full of engaging experiences that leave the viewer completely fulfilled after a weekend of awe inspiring natural splendor and exquisite art and architecture.



Art for Children








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Sotheby's HK Fair



Exclusive VIP Coverage ART HK12
Hong Kong International Art Fair

Moment Design + Productions
KayRock Editions
Hamburg Kennedy Photographs

Yayoi Kusama

For those who have not already visited our newly launched website featuring our Art Consulting Services and Online Gallery, we welcome you to do so here. For this month's edition Sarah covers the Hong Kong International Art Fair and examines the art scene in Hong Kong itself, which is now being touted as the next major global art capital.  With exclusive VIP coverage of the fair, as well as concurrent gallery openings, auctions and other events in Hong Kong this past May, SBFA gives you an extensive look at this emerging art metropolis.  SBFA will also be celebrating the life and work of groundbreaking Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama this month with an exclusive offer at our Online Gallery, featuring a special limited edition print by the prolific and visionary female artist.  And finally, SBFA is pleased to announce two new partnerships with innovative, Tribeca-based, interior design firm Moment Design + Productions and Kayrock Editions, whose limited edition prints we will be offering in our Online Gallery

HK12logo    kusamaflower

In honor of Japanese Artist Yayoi Kusama, who recently opened a major retrospective at the Tate Modern in London and “Hong Kong Blooms in My Mind,” a unique exhibition of works for sale at Sothbey’s new Hong Kong headquarters, SBFA is pleased to offer an exclusive print by the artist for a limited time only.  The 84 year old, female artist, who was born in Nagano, Japan in 1929, has gained fame and notoriety with her groundbreaking art happenings and prolific life’s work in a diverse variety of media.  Most famous for her obsessive, repetitive and endless polka dots and ‘Infinity Net’ paintings, made up of carefully repeated arcs of paint built up into large patterns, Yayoi Kusama is considered one of the most influential figures of modern and contemporary art today.
Kusama moved to New York City in 1957 where she launched a successful career producing paintings, sculptures, installations, performance and film.  Her work has been aligned with the Pop, Minimalist and Feminist movements however, she may be considered an artist in her own right, who defies classification.  As a female artist from the East, she had to contend with the male-dominated Western art world in New York and was surrounded by the likes of Andy Warhol, Donald Judd, Joseph Cornell and Claes Oldenburg.  For over a decade in New York she effectively put her energy towards creating inspiring artistic forms and achieved fame and notoriety with her groundbreaking work in the United States.  In the 70s she returned to Japan where she settled, at her own instigation, in the Seiwa Hospital in Tokyo.  Despite her lifelong battle with mental illness she continues to carry on her normal daily routine, spending several hours a day in her studio producing innovative new work.

Her work has the highest auction turnover of any living woman, and while her monochrome "Infinity Net" paintings command the highest prices, her colorful prints have also contributed to her high volume at auction.  She was also ranked 5th among the top female Post War artists at auction for a work that sold at Christie’s for $5.1 million USD in 2008.  Yayoi Kusama continues to re-invent her innovative and unique style and is now considered one of Japan’s most prominent artists, and indeed one of the most important contemporary artists of our time.

kusama2           kusamapic  
Please click here for SBFA's exclusive Yayoi Kusama offer.

In addition to Hamburg Kennedy Photographs, with whom SBFA has been working for the past two years to source exclusive 20th Century and Contemporary Photography and Prints, we are now pleased to annouce that we will also be working in partnership with innovative, Tribeca-based interior design firm Moment Design + Productions.  Moment Design has garnered recognition as one of New York’s finest young interior design firms with their inspiring and timeless approach.  SBFA will continue to work with the firm to vet artworks for top clients, adding depth and sophistication to their one of a kind interior projects.

SBFA is also excited to announce our new partnership with Kayrock Screenprinting's latest venture, Kayrock Editions.  Run by Brooklyn-based artist Karl Larocca, Kayrock has specialized in hand printed fine art editions, posters, books, and graphic design since 1998.  Some of their projects have been exhibited at P.S. 1 Contemporary Art Center, NY, The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston TX, The Kitchen, NY and Jessica Murray Projects, NY.   Coming up in July SBFA will be adding several works from Kayrock Editions to our online gallery – so please stay tuned to see exciting new works by some of New York's most promising emerging artists.

Moment pic
Moment Design: Photo Costas Picadas


                           moment design+productions

       Kayrock ScreenPrinting
ART HK12: Betting on the Hub:  A True Art Metropolis?
May 17 - 20, 2012 at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center
Sarah Belden

Hong Kong is a place of vastly diverse contrasts, a financial powerhouse situated on the cusp of mainland Communist China, a free market gateway between Asia, America and Europe, and a cosmopolitan metropolis "on the verge" with a burgeoning art scene to match. For the 5th edition of ART HK the fair has confirmed its status as Asia's premier art fair, with more visitors and galleries than ever, creating even greater expectations for next year when the fair will become Art Basel Hong Kong. The fact that Art Basel, the queen of all art fairs, has taken over ART HK shouldn't be such a surprise considering China has surpassed the United States and Europe as the world's biggest art market with Chinese buyers now making up over 41% of the global art auction market. This, coupled with the major hype surrounding Chinese Contemporary Art itself, have helped put Hong Kong on the map as a key market for contemporary art in the new global economy. So - is Hong Kong poised to become the next global art capital? Based upon the palpable excitement in the air during this year's fair, the recent frenzy of major blue chip galleries who have set up shop at an unprecedented rate here, and the growing ranks of newly minted Asian millionaires, who are not just interested in collecting Contemporary Art, but in setting up their own private museums, one would guess so.

This edition of Art HK boasted 266 participants from 38 countries, while maintaining it's unique 50/50 balance of Asian and Western galleries. With only six additional galleries this year, the aim was to make the fair better, not bigger. A quick glance at the line up reads like a whose-who of the art world, with all the usual suspects: Sadie Coles, Gagosian, Eigen and Art and some newer additions, such as Eleven Rivington, Daniel Templon and Carsten Greve. Since its inception five years ago, ART HK has always featured major artists from top galleries, but this year they aimed to diverge from the typical trade show format and invited Yuko Hasegawa, chief curator of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Tokyo, to curate Art HK Projects. Hasegawa presented 10 large-scale installations, that included Yayoi Kusama's signature polka dot Flower sculptures, that were a huge hit; Chinese artist, Yin Xiuzhen's shipping container reconfigured as a round-cut diamond, and Tatsuo Miyajima's six-meter high mirrored tower with 3,287 LED lights. Also adding to the newer more dynamic feel of the space was Galerie Gmurzynska's specially commissioned Zaha Hadid booth, featuring an important exhibition of the works of Wifredo Lam, the only 20th century classic modern artist of Chinese origins, which seemed a perfect fit, bridging the gap between East and West.

Peter Liversidge, Ingleby Gallery

At the VIP vernissage held on Wednesday night, it was clear that the bulk of collectors in attendance were Asian. There were a lot of Australians and some major European players in tow, but few American fly-ins to be seen. Some of the more prominent collectors present were; Uli Sigg, former Swiss ambassador to China, and one of the first major collectors of avant-garde Chinese art, who I had the pleasure of meeting at Art Basel Miami; Christie's owner, Francois Pinault, and the omnipresent dynamic duo, Don and Mera Rubell from Miami, who were in town for the Private Museum Panel. Having just landed on a flight from Seoul, I didn't have time to take much in opening night, but as I weaved my way through the seemingly endless rows of gallery booths, requisite glass of champagne in hand, I got a pretty good quick overview.

Many of the big names were immediately apparent; a Daniel Buren hanging colored, glass window installation; a Gerhard Richter minimalist "strip painting" (from the same series Marian Goodman exhibited at Frieze in October); one of Damien Hirst's massive pill cabinets at White Cube; a George Condo painting from 2012, which sold for $150,000, in addition to works by Georg Baselitz, Alighiero Boetti, and Robert Motherwell, who all sold well. Political dissident Ai Weiwei exhibited a monumental and emotive work entitled "Cong," which consisted of 123 framed letters from various Chinese government ministries regarding his investigation of the 2008 Sichuan Earthquake. The work also displayed the names of the 5,196 students who died in school buildings that collapsed as a combined result of the earthquake and poor construction methods. There were several elegant gunpowder works on paper by Cai Guo-Qiang and major canvases by star painters Zhang Xiaogang, Zeng Fanzhi and Yue Minjun, as well as large-scale works by top Chinese photographer Zhang Huan. Also immediately visible were large sculptural and installation works by Mariko Mori, Anish Kapoor, Takashi Murakami and Subodh Gupta.

While one could probably see most of the aforementioned at Basel or Frieze, there were also many interesting, new discoveries to be found in the ART FUTURES section and ASIA ONE. One of these was Thai artist, Navin Rawanchaikul, who presented an installation entitled "A Tale of Two Cities," at Singapore's Yakuz Fine Art. The solo exhibition of mixed-media work by the Chang Mai artist included nostalgic photographic studio style paintings, documentary video, textural work and a glass cabinet, encasing hundreds of small bottles, each one containing a photographic portrait of a different individual. This work entitled, "There is no voice" focused on the notion of community from a geo-cultural perspective, exploring local circumstances and trends of globalization and juxtaposing communities in Hong Kong and Chang Mai. Another installation that caught my eye was Herman Chong's "God Bless Diana," an "archive" of 550 photographs, printed as individual "postcards," each for sale as an artwork in it's own right. Chong's 'cinematic' images culled from urban life in London, Beijing, Singapore, and New York could be had for a mere 5 HK$. Once procured, the aim is that they be redistributed into the world, where they may function individually as well as collectively, resisting the usual art world exclusiveness.

I discovered a brilliant video work by Pakistani artist Rashid Rana, presented at Lisson Gallery (he is definitely one to watch), and at the Modern Institute, while I could barely take my eyes off Tony Swain's subtle, engaging and delicate painted collages on newsprint, I was also taken in by Richard Hughes refashioned basketball in a bottle, all of which was painstakingly made by hand with resin. The solo presentation of Peter Liversidge's work at Ingleby Gallery was also hard to miss, with an installation piece in bright lights that read, "Everything is Connected." Another gallery, whose booth worked well, was Galleria Continua. Based in, of all unlikely places, Beijing and San Gimignano, the gallery that features an incredibly diverse roster of artists was showing a monumental text work by Beijing- based Gu Dexin; a "labyrinth circle" made of thousands of matches encased in plexi by Egyptian artist Moataz Nasr; and Yaoundé-based, Pascale Marthine Tayou's uplifting, stacked Chinese "columns" made of blue painted vases, as well as a signature Anish Kapoor wall sculpture. Another artist who I kept coming back to see at Daniel Templon's booth was Mao Yan, whose lightly colored, sketchy water color portraits, interpreted from Goya and Delacroix started at $40,000 USD.

Galleria Continua, San Gimignano

A reoccurring theme I found in much of the work on display during the week was the fragmented and expansive nature of contemporary mobility, including issues of dislocation, duality and the construction of identity and place. A tongue in cheek piece that touched upon this was Indonesian artist Tintin Wulia's "passport machine." Similar to those found in amusement parks, by inserting a dollar coin in the slot, the viewer has a chance at grabbing a fake passport and winning their nationality of choice. This one off piece was like the "Mona Lisa" of the art fair and impossible to get close to, due to the constant onslaught of bemused viewers. Across town in Chai Wan Mei, I visited some artist's studios and galleries including 10 Chancery Lane that was exhibiting "Erasure" by Vietnamese artist Dinh Q. Lê. Another highly emotive and political work, this installation featured three large wooden boat wrecks, set adrift in a sea of thousands of old, faded, family photographs strewn across the gallery floor. All of the photos were from families of Vietnamese refugees that the artist had found, while he, a refugee himself, was searching for clues to his past. In the darkened gallery, a large screen played a haunting video of a burning refugee boat wreck off of Australia's Christmas Island. This work highlighted the plight of the rising number of refugees from around the world caused by political and economic upheavals.

Throughout the week the city hosted numerous talks, tours, debates and important gallery openings such as Andreas Gursky's first ever exhibition in Asia featuring his large-scale, painterly and almost abstract Bangkok series at Gagosian in the historic Pedder building. In addition to the new works, there were other important iconic Gursky pieces on display, such as his "99 Cent II Diptychon" (2001), for which I was given an off the record quote of "5 Million USD" even though it "was not for sale." Ben Brown Gallery, also in the Pedder building, offered an extensive look at influential Italian artist Alighiero Boetti, and Anselm Kiefer's first ever exhibition in China opened at White Cube, featuring large-scale landscape paintings and lead and steel sculptures at Jay Jopling's newest outpost, located in a 31-storey skyscraper in Hong Kong's financial district. While one could easily compare the energy in Hong Kong during the week to that of Armory or Frieze, Hong Kong has not always been taken seriously as an international arts destination. According to Magnus Renfrew, the fair director, several years ago Hong Kong was considered by many to be "a cultural desert," with a relatively new and undeveloped art scene. Now it seems ART HK has become a catalyst in creating something greater that fits in with Hong Kong's long-term plans to become a year-round, art-selling hub to rival London or New York—an aspiration that has been attributed to Asia's recent wealth boom. Hong Kong's art scene has been expanding for the past few years and with the recent inauguration of Sotheby's 15,000 sq ft gallery space, and a flurry of other major gallery openings including, not just Gagosian, Ben Brown and White Cube, but also Simon Lee from London, Emmanuel Perrotin from Paris, and Shanghai's Pearl Lam, it appears that this expansion has reached it's apex.

Private Museum Panel at HK12

Despite the growing interest in Contemporary art in the region however, a strong network of publicly funded institutions has been sorely lacking throughout the Asia Pacific region, and this was the focus for discussion at the Private Museum Forum, a unique summit of some of most influential private museum owners from across Asia. I attended Art HK's Private Museum Panel which included; Li Bing, owner of the Bejing Jing Yuan Art Museum; Wang Huangsheng, Director of CAFA Gallery Bejing; Dr Oei Hong Djin, owner of OHD Museum in Magelang, Indonesia; Wang Wei, owner of the Dragon Art Museum in Shanghai; KC Kwok, director of the National Art Gallery, Singapore; and Lars Nittve, former director of Tate Modern, London, who is now the Executive Director of the M+ Museum, a major Contemporary Art Museum currently being developed in the West Kowloon Cultural District of Hong Kong where Norman Foster's new HK$29 Billion dollar City Park is slated to make its debut in 2017.

Much of the discussion centered around issues of responsibility, sustainability, and why these museums are so important in creating platforms for culture, education and a space for discourse. Larys Forgier, director of Thomas Ou's Rockbund Museum has stated that, "early collectors bought art for investment, the auction-led art market was an obsession, but now you're seeing something new. It is not about risk and speculation, they want a sustainable market, they collect with care and they support the artists. It's about the long term – they are trying to create a sense of their own contemporary world." Wang Wei, the wife of billionaire collector Liu Yiqian, who spent nearly $317 million on art in the last two years, discussed the responsibility of private collectors to share their collections and their knowledge with the public. Wei stated that "because there are so few public museums and art education is quite poor, it is up to private collectors to fill this gap." Other members on the panel voiced concerns about the lack of museum policy and the dearth of professional talent that is needed in arts management and questions were posed about how collectors might commit to and fund these museums long term, and what might happen to these important collections if the museums fail. The moderator Phillip Dodd, related what is happening in Asia now, to the robber barons in America in the 20s and 30s, who pioneered such important museums as the Whitney, MoMA and the Frick in New York.

After leaving this discussion I noticed the incredibly gauche signature tote bags and t-shirts that were being hawked around exhibition center that read, "Money Creates Taste," not sure whose idea that was. Another VIP panel which I unfortunately missed, while bouncing back and forth between the Pedder building, the Convention Center, and artists studios and galleries in Chai Wan Mei, was the Intelligence Squared Asia debate: "Contemporary Art Excludes the 99%," which posed such pertinent questions as: "what is the role of the contemporary art museum today; are biennales and art fairs platforms for experiment and exchange or merely social events for the elite; have collectors become the new curators; are private and corporate interests in culture at odds with the public good; and ultimately, who is art for?" Among other art world luminaries, Paul Chan and Joseph Kosuth joined in the discussion, Asia Art Archive's "Backroom Conversations" also featured the Burger Collection Keynote Lecture, this year given by Nigerian curator and critic Okwui Enwezor, as well as "The Decade Revisted" with Hans Ulrich Obrist. I passed on Obrist's lecture and attended Enwezor's instead, in which he discussed, amongst other things, the need to consider off-centered places of emergence and not to just see things as a competition between East and West.

Friday evening I attended a private dinner at collector and fashion impresario David Tang's China Club (not to be mistaken with the one in New York). Located on the thirteenth floor of the Old Bank of China Building, this multi-level, elegant dining club is reminiscent of 1930s Shanghai. With a veritable rabbits' warren of private dining rooms, bars and a library housing several thousand books, not to mention Tang's enviable vast collection of Contemporary Chinese Art, it was a challenge just to find our hosts. Amongst the guests were collectors from Korea, Europe and Australia, as well as art consultants from New York and Sydney. Most guests seemed in agreement that the fair was quite a success and almost everyone said they planned on coming back next year. Saturday night was the final VIP fête at the multi-million dollar waterfront home of collectors Stephen and Yana Peel. The multi-level house was filled with art, running the gamut from a Julian Opie video piece to installation works by bizarre performance artist Frog King Kwok. Yana, a tall, attractive brunette, Russian émigré to Canada, and former Goldman Sachs executive, is also the co-founder of Intelligence Squared Asia, the non-profit organization that hosted the debate "Contemporary Art Excludes the 99%," yet another irony I found amusing and quite fitting during this week of exuberance and excess all in the name of art.

While it seemed abundantly clear that some of the most powerful players in the art world have placed their bets on Hong Kong as the "next global art powerhouse," this boom comes at a time when Chinese economic growth is slowing, raising concerns about sustainability. Natasha Whiffin, gallery manager at Saamlung in Hong Kong, says, "Whilst this hype brings an air of excitement to the city's art scene, its very telling of the possible fragility of the market and whether it's sustainable." Although Christie's and Sotheby's spring auctions in Hong Kong reported strong sales for 20th century and Contemporary art, with record-breaking prices achieved by Chinese and Indonesian artists, London based research firm Art Tactic recently reported that after three years of rapid growth at the very high end, confidence in the Chinese art market is slowing down. And despite the recent flood of galleries in Hong Kong, many dealers warn that those headed eastward should scale back their expectations. Urs Meile of Galerie Urs Meile in Switzerland and Beijing said, "If you look long term, it will be a good market, but I'm not sure it will grow fast." Some dealers made reservations about the Chinese being able to absorb so much material and others voiced concerns about the difficulty of identifying the shifting tastes of the new generation of Asian collectors.

Hong Kong does not lack the financial clout to fulfill its aim of becoming the next major art hub, but the art scene, while certainly dynamic, is too focused on the commercial side. With only a hand full of non-commercial spaces, public museums and alternative spaces for emerging artists, it pales in comparison to say, Beijing (with its 798 zone) or Shanghai, and with the astronomical rents and lack of space in Hong Kong I cannot imagine it as a viable city for any artist trying to make it. It could do with a little of Berlin's "sexy but poor" vibe and perhaps it is exactly this energy that is missing from the financial capital. That said, it was just announced that former Swiss Ambassador Uli Sigg, one of the pioneering collectors of Contemporary Chinese art, has decided to bequeath his entire collection to the M+ Museum currently being built in Hong Kong's West Kowloon district. Amassed over three decades and valued at $167 million, the "encyclopedic" collection is an assemblage of over 1500 works, including edgy and subversive artworks from 350 of China's leading contemporary artists including activist Ai Weiwei. In Mainland China where sensitive art is still heavily censored, this collection would not be possible. While Sigg has considered donating his collection elsewhere, he has stated that, "it's very important that a Chinese public can ultimately get access to these works," and Hong Kong which does not have the same political limitations as Mainland China, is the only place to show this kind of work. Under the deal, Sigg will donate most of his collection, while 47 pieces will be acquired by the M+ for HK$177 million. While other major regions in Asia compete fiercely for higher-end cultural and arts based tourism including China, South Korea, Japan, Taiwan and Singapore, Sigg's endowment could help clinch Hong Kong's current bid to become the next art capital of the world, despite its lack of "sexy but poor" artistic cache. Perhaps "Money (does) create Taste" after all.



Benesee Art Site Naoshima, Japan






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The Tipping Point for Technology and the Art Market?



For the Sarah Belden Fine Art Advisory inaugural newsletter we welcome friends, clients, collectors and colleagues to browse our newly launched website featuring our Art Consulting Services and Online Gallery of exclusive and unique works by Emerging Artists as well as Limited Edition Prints and Photography offered in conjunction with our new partner in New York, Hamburg Kennedy Photographs.

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SBFA can assist you in purchasing a single work of art or in building your entire collection from the ground up. With our extensive knowledge of the international art market and personal connections to galleries, dealers and auction houses across the United States, Europe and Asia we can help you make an informed purchase and find exactly what it is you are looking for, whether it is a specific print or unique work by an emerging artist. SBFA can provide you with the access and information you need to guide you through the vast, challenging and ever expanding art market, in addition to a variety of other services such as insurance appraisals, collection management, artist's commissions, auction assistance and more.

Christina Dimitriadis

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The Power of Collecting in your hands

If you prefer to browse and choose artworks from the comfort of your own home, we invite you to visit our curated selection of international artists’ works available at our Online Gallery. Increasingly collectors have begun to use the far reaching power of the internet as a resource for acquiring works of art on their own.  SBFA’s Online Gallery puts the power of collecting art in the hands of the buyer and acts as a key resource that offers the advantage of a curated database of pre-selected work by international Emerging Artists, as well as hand picked Limited Edition Prints and Photography, in partnership with Hamburg Kennedy Photographs, all easily available for purchase online.
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In addition to acquainting yourself with SBFA's professional Art Consulting Services and our Online Gallery you can also read up on what is new and exciting in the art world in our monthly newsletter.  For our inaugural issue Sarah examines Fine Art's relationship with e-commerce and the impact of the growing trend in taking the art market online in her article, State of the Art: the Tipping Point for Technology and the Art Market. In next months issue we are pleased to bring you the first edition of our monthly Art Asia Report, Sarah Belden's exclusive view from the Asia Pacific region, focusing on artists, galleries, museums, art fairs, and private collections, that will feature a VIP exclusive from the Hong Kong Interntional Art Fair in June and the Benesee Art Site Naoshima, Japan in July.
State of the Art: the Tipping Point for Technology and the Art Market
Sarah Belden

Flash Art
One might say that the Art Market is in the midst of its very own dot com boom at the moment, as evidenced by the seemingly innumerable art related websites that are popping up every day. There are online auctions, virtual art fairs, digital exhibitions and a multitude of magazines and databases, all focused on those interested in art and collecting. Two of the latest and most high profile of these ventures are; the VIP Art Fair (Viewing in Private), and the recent partnership of the Armory Show and Paddle 8, a curated online auction platform. 

Sotheby’s and Christie’s are also getting in on the action, and now transmit their auctions live online, allowing for real-time bidding from any connected PC.  For those on the go, anyone with a smart phone can access the traditionally exclusive brick and mortar auction houses from anywhere with Sotheby's and Christie's sleek new mobile applications.  For a more individualized experience, the site, (funded by Google CEO Eric Schmidt, Jack Dorsey of Twitter, and Dasha Zhukova) will be an “Art Genome” algorithm that breaks down artworks into 500+ dimensions, (art historical movement, subject matter, formal qualities), and points individuals in the direction of more art they might like based on their preferences, successfully bringing interested collectors and dealers together for a new art buying experience.

While online sales are currently only an infinitesimal piece of the estimated $80-billion art industry, recent reports about venture capitalists pouring money into art-related start-ups such as Paddle 8, which just scored an infusion of $4-million; and Artspace, which just raised $2.5 million, seem to suggest there is a lot of confidence in finally taking the art market online.  More telling perhaps is’s re-launching of its own online auction platform in 2007, which originally failed over a decade ago.  The second time around they bet that much of the art market below a certain price level would soon operate entirely online, and it appears that artnet’s bet has paid off this time. 

Originating as an online information platform, artnet features listings of artists, galleries, auctions and an auction price database.  Primarily dealing in prints by Modern and Contemporary masters (Warhol, Calder, Lichtenstein), artnet auctions sold over 6,500 pieces, generating $2.5 million in commissions on $12 million in sales in 2010.  In July 2011, artnet auctions broke the million dollar barrier, selling a 1978 Andy Warhol “Flower” painting for $1.322.500.  artnet claims this shift comes from growing consumer comfort in the online marketplace as well as the increasing popularity of the pursuit of contemporary art as an investment.  artnet’s shift from an information platform to a commercial venture may be seen as highly indicative of Fine Art’s relationship with e-commerce and this is an important trend we should take stock of going forward. 

Could this new trend mean the old fashioned, expensive, and logistically cumbersome auction houses, which are tied to seasonal sales calendars, need to update their business model?  At the moment only 28% of Christie’s buyers are bidding online, and the average price of on online sale is only $8,123, a number that pales in comparison to the current global lot average of $48,900 at the brick and mortars.  While Christie’s, Sotheby’s, and (to a lesser extent) Phillips de Pury, have chosen to merely supplement their traditional auction format with online bidding mechanisms, there is certainly an emerging auction marketplace that exists almost entirely online.  One example is Blacklots, which deals mostly in prints ranging from $1,000 - $25,000, and auctions a single object every 24 hours, with flash sale efficiency similar to Giltgroupe.  Once a work is consigned, Blacklots will list the piece for sale and then it will go up for auction online in less than seven days, cutting out the traditionally required adherence to the auction houses’ calendars and expensive premiums, shipping and catalogue costs.  Another example, perhaps best exemplifying the Internet’s rapidly globalizing effect on the auction market is Saffronart, a Mumbai based online auction house founded in 2000 that specializes in modern and contemporary Indian Art.  Saffronart’s inaugural auction sold only $125,000 in art; but six years later, just one of its online auctions sold $17 million. Most recently, its Summer 2011 sale received a bid from a mobile device that exceeded $1 million, a milestone. In addition, Saffronart’s June 2010 auction sold 10 of the top 15 lots sight unseen.

By 2014, 400 million Internet users will connect to the Web through mobile devices rather than computers.  The world is going mobile and anyone who has been to an artfair lately can clearly see that galleries and dealers are on top of this trend.  Every dealer is now armed with an iPad, which enables them to take their entire inventory with them wherever they go.  Another new ipad app is ArtCapture, which allows a collector visiting a participating gallery to point his/her iPhone or iPad camera at any artwork and instantly receive the information about the artwork and the gallery, allowing visitors to “virtually” take the art home with them. 

For “armchair collectors” who wish to utilize the Internet’s new, far reaching resources to their own advantage, some of the more recent art e-commerce ventures include: 1stdibs, an online marketplace for art and antiques; Artspace, Exhibition A, and 20x200, all offering limited edition prints; and Kipton Art, a site that specializes in emerging artists, offering literally hundreds of works from artists outside the first tier gallery system. Unfortunately, Kipton Art leaves little in the way of a curated selection of work, making this site much less successful than its counterparts, but these are just a few of the many new art commerce sites recently launched.  Whether these online ventures have succeeded or not, it seems that the art market has indeed reached the tipping point with technology, and we may thus ask, what this new access to virtual art and art commerce online means and how it will impact our experience of looking, learning about, and collecting art?  Is there a way to differentiate between the myriad sources of information and the onslaught of images, many presented unframed and without context?  And how might one select, organize, and process all of this content now so readily available online? 

While nothing can replace the experience of looking at art in person and speaking with artists, curators and dealers firsthand, this can be difficult to manage and time consuming for even the most intrepid art enthusiasts.  And with the dizzying array of never ending art events, exhibitions, biennales, art fairs and auctions, the already frenetic international art schedule has multiplied exponentially over the last few years.  In addition, new trends in the global economy that have expanded the art market’s scope to include important new centers like China, Korea and Brasil, have made the typical art market experience even more unmanageable and overwhelming.  It is for this reason that that the burgeoning collector must now, more than ever, look to the best of these resources to help guide them, those that aim to shape our digital experience by including informed educational content, curated platforms, a solid context, and access to trusted resources and professional expertise. 



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Sarah Belden Fine Art Advisory San Juan de la Cuesta 1 4A 28017 Madrid, Spain Tel +34 622 197 468 /