The Dallas Art Fair is expanding. This year over 30 additional galleries participated including blue chip institutions like Gagosian. We were thrilled once again to attend the fair and view some incredible work by established and emerging artists. The city and the fair celebrate a rising collector base. The fair does an excellent job of transplanting successful galleries from US and international epicentres to house work temporarily in Dallas. Major galleries such as CANADA and Morgan Lehman gallery participated this year in the crowded high energy art world convention.
Over the fair we were able to meet a lot of professional curators, gallerists and critics. But, most of all we got the pleasure of viewing some incredible and inspiring work. The fair was a visual feast and it was hard to narrow our list - we managed to cut it down to a list of 7 favorites.
Black and Navy Aug 31 2014, 2014
Flock, enamel and sparkle on tile over masonite
36 x 72 x 4.5 in.
Donald Sultan’s chrome poppies popped out at us in his piece “Black and Navy”. It was easy to become captivated by the textural interplay between flock, enamel and spackle. The enamel chrome flowers shone against the black light-absorbing flock glittering like a star in the blackest night sky.
Sultan is a painter, print maker and sculptor from New York City. His work is in major collections such as the Metropolitan Museum, the Guggenheim and the Museum of Modern Art. The paintings of poppies are his most iconic and popular series of works.
The paintings reference poppies that grew over the graves of fallen soldiers and Sultan’s personal garden. He says the works reference more of the quotidian paper flowers that are sold on Veteran’s Day rather than the actual flowers. This reference to the man-made is also reflected through the use of synthetic materials such as the flocking and enamel paint. Although the work could easily fall into the same kitschy aesthetic space as a velvet painting, it doesn't. The painting's contrast, minimal design and emotional reference, allows elegance to override campiness. It reads less like flea market find and more like an Ellsworth Kelly. Sultan’s unique flare for combining everyday materials with a serious tenor of subject has made him an artist of significance.
Oil on linen
55 x 51 in.
While weaving through fair's dense coordinators we were able to stumble upon the work of Sarah Dwyer. The Irish artist utilizes a prominent drawing marks that move in and out of her layered abstract works. We were immediately struck by the vigorous and gestural marks. Her painted lines provide a journey through the work's surface.
The large colour-filled paintings begin as intuitive explorations in paint. She is interested in how fantasy, and history are built into a painting. The more colouristic passages in the paintings seem to evoke moments when Dwyer is unconscious, letting the work make itself. The drawn lines seem to consciously rein in moments of physical and emotional history. The paintings evoke reconstructed or meditated memories. Dwyer reflects on personal memory as material for the work. She offers a dense stratified surface for a viewer to exhume illustrations from. The works seem to whisper “Come see my world, excavate my soiled layers, and draw upon your own personal histories.”
Dwyer is London based and is represented by Jane Lombard Gallery in NYC, and Josh Lilly Gallery in London.
Holy Roller, 2017
Oil enamel on canvas and ester foam
56.5 x 16 x 11.5 in.
It was exciting to see Justin Adian’s work again during the Dallas Art Fair. Adian's work never disappoints us. We think its some of the most developed and exciting work we had the pleasure to view at the fair this year. His work hovers in a space between sculpture and painting. It is in this intermediary space between media that Adian finds his most fruitful inspiration. He claims that “ If you’re not sure what something is, it gives you a lot of freedom. " With this freedom, Adian makes playful, propositional and stunning work.
Adian’s work begins by shaping Ester foam into unique geometric forms as his primary support. He then stretches material across the three-dimensional surface. The final touch is painting it with luxurious but utilitarian industrial boat paint. These abstract wall-mounted pieces recall geometric abstractions like Carmen Herrera, who bent painting into the intimate and sculptural space of the viewer. The works are slick, colorful, succinct and powerful. They beckon your attention with the least amount of moves. His pieces offer color suspended in space all without even leaving the surface of a wall. The concise and simplicity of these wall works is what garners their impressive impact.
Untitled (Tough Ray), 2015
Soft pastel and oil stick on satin with wood frame
60.5 x 48.5 in.
Larissa Lockshin is an emerging Canadian artist living and working in Brooklyn, NY. Her work epitomizes a young feminine spirit, as seen here in Untitled (Tough Ray). Candy-colored and painted on a satin surface, Lockin makes marks with laissez-faire execution. Utilizing clumsy materials like oil stick and soft pastel she creates doodle-like compositions of decorative motifs. The compositions are reminiscent of the drawings on the margins of a high school notebook. They have a quiet romantic nostalgia. The whismsical pastel colors and light imagery provide is unassuming and unpreticious. The nostalgic and saccharine images recall third wave feminist artists like Petra Collins and Aurel Schmidt whose work is both ironic and sincere in their devotion to the uber girly.
These airy fleshy pink satin canvases recall impressionist, and expressionist modes of making. Here we don’t see the uber slick or instead we see the expressions of a celebratory female. These seductive works have us lusting for more.
Oil on canvas
66 x 51 in.
Cornelius Volker’s paintings are representation and reference the history of art. Specifically, his work draws on Pop art and Action painting. While he replicates images of known subjects like flowers, or portraits he undoes the techniques of painting. The subject matter is a vehicle to explore both the material of paint, and the process of rendering illusionist images. In a calculated manner, Voker’s work is about the task of painting itself.
The German artist has pursued many subjects for his large-scale oil paintings. Yet he always pursues the deconstruction of the history and techniques of painting. His handling of the medium of paint is both effortless and rigorous. He doesn’t waver in his confident application of paint. Yet, he explores the different ways of rendering and how they effect the attitude of the painting. Through the paintings technical execution the subject and the history of painting talk to one another. The subjects however, always remind us of a common relationship to the world. He provides subjects that are common and relateable, like flowers, a portrait, a package of imodium, or a hand gun. Although the images are beautiful they transcend being just a pretty picture. Instead, they evoke history, deconstruct illusion and wow us materially.
Calvin’s Place, 2016
Acrylic and oil on canvas
65 x 72 in.
Anna Membrino works drew us in. The spatial and saturated large scale paintings beckoned me to know more. After inquiring we discovered Membrino begins with two dimensional and three dimensional assemblage as a jumping off point into her paintings. The colorful and surrealistic paintings recall still lives that seem to exist in a more alien or unusual world outside of our own. These surreal landscapes defy scale specificity. It’s difficult to define how big something is, or what perspective you take on as a viewer. The paintings work like a tableu vivant. They beg you to come into their strange and color filled atmosphere, to play and enjoy their dream-like space. The images seem to exist at once in fantasy and a concrete reality.
Anna Membrino is a Dallas based artist who was born in Maryland. She has an MFA from MFA Southern Methodist University and is represented by Erin Cluley Gallery.
Acrylic and spray paint on canvas
96 × 120 in
Katherine Bernhardt is definitely the hot, emerging artist right now in the contemporary art market. We were so excited to se her work in person at the Fair. She makes makes colorful patterned paintings of symbols in our popular culture lexicon. She creates dazzling, roughly drawn, textile-like compositions representing images like the ‘poop’ emoji, icons of cigarettes, or renditions of the smurfs. These hi-key, acid-colored, expedient images are dazzling and audacious. The large-scale paintings feel recall punk aesthetics through their ostentatious, powerful, and straightforward illustrative style.
The artist who is New York based most of the time also frequents Morroco where she also collects and sells fine Berber hand woven rugs. The rugs are clearly inspiration for Bernhardt’s work of the last decade. As her paintings seem more invested in textile composition, and repetition. It is also confirmed by her straight from the tube colour palette, and the way she applies paint is more like staining a fabric than globbing on impasto painted matter. We love the multitude of references in her work and love her unique take on the process and subject of painting.