Art Basel Recap - Part Two: SCOPE, UNTITLED, and UNREALISM Art Fairs

 

The second half of our Miami trip and Art Basel experience was a little more toned down (minus the jam-packed A$AP Rocky concert we went to last-minute which turned into a bonafide rave). We managed to also snag a third piece to add to our personal art collection and shook hands with Incubus frontman and burgeoning artist, Brandon Boyd, in the process.

Saturday (Dec 5): The Actual Miami Beach and Meeting Brandon Boyd at SCOPE Art Fair

So the best part of Saturday was probably getting our press badges at the front desk of the 2015 SCOPE Art Fair in Miami Beach. Getting to the show was a little bit delayed because we first headed to Royal Palm South Beach Hotel to pick up my camera from Angat’s hotel room from the night before – this time, Angat had an oceanside (and multi-story) view of the Miami Beach everyone had been talking about. Christ, was it a view. 

Jarell played iPhone DJ and we took our time enjoying (and taking turns on the balcony) with some left over Stoli and Ciroc beverages in hand. With all the back-to-back outings we had smashed into the past two or three nights, it was a nice respite to pause and enjoy the beach in front of us, even if it was a little grey and bleak outside. 

After some liquid shenanigans, we departed and split up with the guys to take a Lyft to the SCOPE Art Fair, which the guys warned was a huge white tent plopped on the sand. Once we were dropped off on the boardwalk, we followed the laid-out matted path to the white tent where we picked up our press badges. This was probably also the moment I realized how underdressed I was in comparison to the other art-goers around me. Everyone had a designer handbag, white frocks, brand new (expensive) footwear, heels, and sneakers I had never before even heard of. (I realistically should have taken photos of people’s outfits but was just in awe of all the fashion I saw and overwhelmed by the art pieces inside SCOPE that I left the street style coverage for NY Mag, NY Times, and Racked.)

SCOPE was the best show we attended retrospectively looking back on Art Basel now. The aisles were too close to each other and the artwork was a bit much at times to ingest because of the close proximity of all the exhibiting galleries, but nonetheless it was still inspiring to see works by Retna, Roy Lichtenstein, Space Invader, Damien Hirst, and Banksy in-person. There was also a life-size bust of Frida Kahlo presented by Copro Gallery (Santa Monica) by Kazuhiro Tsuji closer to the entrance of SCOPE that was constantly being used as a selfie companion – for obvious reasons. 

I stopped by the Juxtapoze Magazine booth to purchase one of the signed “Heart of Gold” prints by Brandon Boyd (in an edition of 100) which was done in conjunction with 1xRUN and SCOPE to curate the limited edition print releases by Boyd and a handful of other artists. 

Camilo Matiz consistently drew a large crowd of visitors to his “Here Not Here” installation which featured a series of light sculptures and mirrors which was a “study of reflection that confront us with the duality of who we are and how we perceive ourselves.” The artist’s statement for his thought-provoking work continued: “Reflecting upon us, the same object displays different on the opposite universes within our heart and mind, as life reflects unmanifested desires of the soul.” 

Another standout installation I enjoyed was by Mika Gallery (Tel Aviv), whom I have been following for quite some time now. Sarah Bahbah’s “Sex & Takeout” photography series was on display, and printed on a series of wood panels. 

The final piece that stuck with me before we thought about lunch options was by Sergio Garcia and featured a two-handed sculpture coming out of a wall, titled “For A Minute I Thought The Wall Was Leaning” (2015). 

We had dinner on Saturday at Havana 1957 (Espanola Way, Miami Beach) after all the art we saw at SCOPE. While seated, Wale and his entourage sat down behind us for dinner as well. Cuban food bringin' people together. After dinner, we headed back to YVE Hotel and then met up with the guys to watch A$AP Rocky perform live at Mana Wynwood followed by a DJ set with Kaytranada.

Sunday (Dec 6): Devin Troy Strother Steals UNTITLED Art Fair and Last of the Art-seeing with Jeffrey Deitch

Sunday was super chill and full of oysters. We made our way from Downtown where we were staying to the UNTITLED art fair in Miami Beach which featured 119 exhibitors, a variety of special projects (including a toilet paper-sponsored break area), and a live-streamed space for Miami-based web radio station Wynwood Radio. A lot of the art was contemporary, and since our energy level was running a bit empty from the night before, we mosied along aisle-by-aisle at less than a snail’s pace. The highlighted works that stood out to us were curated by the Richard Heller Gallery, ironically based here in California in Santa Monica. (Guess it takes Art Basel to finally see work from the Westside. I personally blame traffic for my Downtown-radius in Los Angeles.)

Full panels by the Richard Heller Gallery featured works by 29-year-old Devin Troy Strother. Strother, who currently has an exhibition at the Gallery in Santa Monica running until December 19 called, “They Should’ve Never Given You Niggas Money”, showcased his paintings, sculptures, and collages. His neon signs filled a smaller enclosed second panel the art fair. Honestly, Strother’s art pieces at UNTITLED were the most fun to look at. It was relatable, colorful, and forced myself and the others to stop, come forward, and examine each one of his works. The thick pink paint, mashed with his obvious references to African American imagery added with abstract patterns of individual figures, are a true testament to the larger message at hand. His artwork was the most engaging – perhaps the smiley-faces on the individual figures in his paintings helped with that ethereal optimism after viewing his art. 

After UNTITLED, we headed to Wynwood Walls for a barrage of street art and way too many people. No pictures necessary for that. (Use Google.)

Lastly, before the oysters we devoured at dinner, we saw our last stretch of art at UNREALISM at The Moore Building in the Design District presented by Larry Gagosian and former Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) director and art dealer, Jeffrey Deitch. There was a life-size wax sculpture that apparently had been lit throughout the duration of Miami Art Week as well as surreal cast bronze sculptures by Tony Matelli (called "Sleepwalker") and another life-like sculpture by Duane Hansen called "Old Lady in Folding Chair" (1976) which is exactly what the title states. Nearby was a Jeff Koons piece, "Seal Walrus (Chairs)" (2003-2009) made of polychromed aluminum and resin which an unknowing bystander thought was simply an inflatable swim toy, and who was quickly reprimanded by a security guard to not touch nor pose so closely to the art piece. (It’s apparently for sale at a list price of $4 million.)

Catch the first half of our Art Basel recap here.

Text and Photography by Diane Abapo

Follow Diane on Instagram at @dianeabapo


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Diane Abapo Founder and Editor-in-Chief at SUSPEND Magazine.