THE ARMORY SHOW - 2016 - NEW YORK PIER 94 AND 92
I feel like a character in a Buñuel film who goes from art fair to art fair. Landed in Delhi, India in February just in time for the opening of the eighth Annual Contemporary Art Fair and landed back in NYC just in time for the twenty second Armory Show and the myriad satellite shows happening all over town in the beginning of March. It’s all too rich and inviting. So, into the fray I went.
Image Above: ©Cyrus Kabiru, Njia Ya Maisha, Macho Nne Egyptian Peacock, 2015. Courtesy of SMAC Art Gallery.
Unlike the Academy Awards this year there was no lack of diversity in this show. The Armory Focus: African Perspectives, an invitational section curated by Julia Grosse and Yvette Mutumba, presented selections from African galleries as well as the work of established and emerging contemporary artists from Africa and the African Diaspora. Particularly striking are the images of Cyrus Kabira at SMAC Gallery, who has created fantastical masks out of household materials and then made beautiful photographs of them. Zanela Muholi produces large scale gelatin silver prints exploring the lesbian experience of African women. Echo Art presents color photographs by Namsa Leuba which appear somewhat allegorical and often whimsical reflections on various aspects of African life and culture.
Image Above: ©Markus Brunetti, Amiens, Cathédrale Notre-Dame, 2009-2016, From the seriesFACADES. Courtesy of Yossi Milo Gallery.
There were many good examples of the usual suspects like Kehinde Wiley, Nick Cave and El Anatsui, Phyllis Galembo. Some exceptionally beautiful pigment printed portraits of elegantly dressed black women in 18th century finery by Ayana V Jackson at Gallery Momo. The large photographic images at Yossi Milo of Markus Brunetti’s Facades series are completely mesmerizing as he has chosen some of the most beautiful buildings of cathedrals and churches from Moorish, Renaissance and Gothic periods and rendered them in such exquisite detail that they almost feel like etchings. The opposite extreme in terms of process would have to be Matthew Monahan’s Son of a Gun series which are created by building up layers of paper with an image of a head and then shooting them with a gun from behind thereby deconstructing the image and turning it into a three dimensional piece of sculpture. They are quite arresting.
Image Above: ©Ayana V. Jackson, Wild As The Wind, 2015. Courtesy of Gallery MOMO.
The after the show news is that attendance was up, sales were the best ever and purchases by museums and collectors was high. The mood was optimistic and attendees all seemed to be enjoying the experience. It was well-organized and glorious to see such a surfeit of beauty.