Another pleasure of Art Forum is that it has a truly adventurous spirit. There is much less "blue chip" art on display than at the other big city fairs. This means the satellites aren't a ghetto for younger artists and experimental work. Of course, this means that there's a lot of art that misses the mark or is not destined for bigger things. Great! The whole weekend feels like one big studio visit. Left and right one is exposed to unfamiliar work. If this was ever the goal of Art Basel, FIAC, and Art Cologne, it is now long gone at those fairs. In the same spirit -- and maybe because there has been such a mushrooming of new galleries in Berlin -- there are a lot of smaller and unfamiliar galleries at these fairs.
It seemed that there were some ideas or materials that were popping up in more than a few places. I saw a LOT of work that used mirrors - photos on mirrors, sculpture made with mirrors, mirrors incorporated into a variety of genres. It's not like this is a new idea, but I believe I was seeing more of it than I've seen for awhile.
"The series Architektura, consists in part of paper models based on existing buildings in Polish cities. By accelerating the effects of time upon them, and by exposing them to the effects of water and fire, Kobylarz reduces the models to rubble. As though the buildings were predestined to collapse even before their construction, the models – no longer immaculate proposals for the future – have already collapsed. They remind us that even our most stable and concrete buildings are less than certain, indeed, less than enduring. "
Have I forgotten that this is a photoblog? No. But this three dimensional approach also found its way into a lot of photographic work.
Ji Yeon Heo (http://www.galerie-schuster.de/)is a recent graduate from the class of Thomas Ruff. She employs the technique made famous by John Baldessari of using photos laminated onto foamcore in order to create a multi-layered photographic surface. Here are two views of the same work that show the literal depth of her work.
Her models are mannequins and her tableaux are scenes that recall soap operas or perhaps the covers of dime store novels of the 50's á la Thomas Allen. To my eyes, the work seems fresh and intriguing though rooted in multiple art traditions. I am eager to watch as she develops.
Those who remember William Ewing's "Re-Generation" show at Aperture will recall Martina Sauter's 3-dimensional explorations of cinematic frames combined with a mundane domestic frame. The best of them are thought provoking to me.
Artist Frederic D. from Berlin gallery "Nice and Fit" (http://www.niceandfitgallery.com/) had a large scale work mounted to sheets of plastic. The result was surprisingly evocative. There was a craquellin effect on the surface of the plastic plus the surface of the plastic was wavy and textured. The subject of the work was a woman the artist had encountered by chance, but her affect was one of Madonna-like grace taken from 17th century painting. I'm not one to advocate technique over content, but this seemed like a happy marriage.
But the real find for me was Thorsten Brinkman. I first saw his work at the booth of Kunstagenten gallery at last year's Kunstsalon. This year year the gallery was showing at Preview. Mr. Brinkman creates whole environments. He builds the booth like a diorama in a natural history museum. He uses found elements of carpeting, rugs, paneling.....junk, to make sculpture, furniture, and atmosphere. But the stars of the show are the photographs. He makes self-portraits adorning himself with he same junk that fills the "room" and then positions himself in mock heroic classical poses. The result is a a scene that riffs on classical architecture, classical paiting, and classical decor. It's witty and fun with a sarcastic and serious underside that invites lots of further study and reflection. I'm hooked.