Photography Shines At Superfine!
By Ilana Jael
Of the growing selection of “anti-Frieze” art fairs to pop up in NYC this season, Superfine! may be the one with the most personality. The 78 international art galleries, solo projects, and collectives highlighted there this year more than lived up to the name’s explanation point promise. Conveniently located beneath the High Line and just a few blocks from Chelsea’s gallery district, this “hyper-curated” affair has a stated mission of making the art market more accessible and bridging the gap between curious and collector. The lucky attendees were kept engaged by fair-wide sticker collecting and an Instagram contest, as well as regaled with nightly performances and live art demonstrations. A hip, festive atmosphere and relaxed feel was further encouraged by a cozy lounge space complete with beanbag chairs and tastings of craft beer, wine, and sake to help guests stay in the artistic spirit.
Exhibitors fell into one of three categories; “Emerge”, which showcases “the freshest faces in new contemporary”, “Elevate”, which features “challenging” artists at the height of their careers, and “Establish”, in which “unconventional art galleries and curated projects” showed “the crème de la crème in emerging new contemporary art from around the world.” The resulting mix of artists on display offered viewers an intriguing mix of mediums and styles, including some impressive photography. John Mazlish’s eye-popping nature shots were among the most vivid works on display, as were Dolly Faibyshev’s dynamic technicolor moments. On the more abstract but equally striking side were Joshua Kessler’s indistinct close ups and Michael Toole’s metallic Light series.
And there was as much fuel for the intellect as for the eye; at collective RE:ARTISTE ’s booth, Carol Scavotto’s innovative collages harnessed photographs of children’s toys to raise questions about our oppressive, capitalist landscape. And though Sophie Gamand’s shots of flower-crowned dogs seems playful at first, a closer look reveals a targeted effort to change the public perception of the much maligned breed of pitbulls. Equally arresting were images from Alan Gaynor’s sublime India series, while Trina Merry’s unique combination of body painting and photography cleverly camouflaged painted models into the masterworks of geniuses like Van Gogh, Pollock, and Modigliani.
Also among the most interesting photographic works on display were those that could be found at the Superfine! staff booth. Founder James Miille explored the “intersection between the real world and the imagined” with a selection of ethereal images from series Within You and Without You. And the nearby work of fair exhibitor relations rep Ashley G Garner provocatively challenged feminine tropes by juxtaposing them with elements of destruction. Her Bust of Ashley appears surrounded by flowers while another image shows the same bust (on fire), and an elegant, frilly self-portrait is likewise beset by flames in Phoenix Rising.
If you missed out, you can still peruse the works of all these great artists and more at Superfine!’s virtual e-fair. Or if you’re eager to experience the extravaganza in person before next Frieze week, feel free to check out their upcoming Washington DC fair from October 31-November 4 or visit their iteration in Los Angeles February 13-17, 2019. Whether you’re a collector, an art buff, or just looking for a fun-filled and unforgettable few days in NYC, Superfine! is one art show to keep on your radar.