Contemporary art Fairs USA

A critic’s guide to Cutlog: the young and the restless

Christian Viveros-Fauné continues his tour of New York’s fairs with the French transplant

Mauricio Garrido's Las Tentaciones de San Antonio 16, 2013, priced at $20,000 with Milan’s Edward Cutler Gallery

Whether the Lower East Side, or New York for that matter, is really home to an experimental arts scene is entirely beside the point—once you’ve firmly convinced yourself that it is. That is the logic of Cutlog, the first New York edition of a four-year-old French art fair dedicated to “experimental” and “cutting-edge art”, that has landed at a neo-Gothic pile at 107 Suffolk Street, between Rivington and Delancey Streets, in the heart of the massively gentrified (or is that galleryfied?) LES.

Erroneously advertised as the neighbourhood’s first art fair (the distinction belongs to the two-year-old Dependent fair held in March), Cutlog aims to be a “creative laboratory” that leans heavily on performance, video, and independent curatorial projects. The bills are paid, on the other hand, by 48 exhibitors (some are galleries, others like Long Island City’s Fragmental Museum, run more to the irregular project space), each of which specialise in freshly kneaded studio objects in the $1,000 to $50,000 range.

The most recent satellite fair—together with Collective.1, Nada, Pulse and others—to attach itself to the Beatles-like arrival of Frieze, Cutlog squarely identifies itself with the young, on which, pace George Bernard Shaw, youth is often wasted. At its most interesting when promoting post-MFA-type objects and performances, Cutlog does offer pearls scattered among gratuitously messy stunts—such as the Times Square painter Andy Golub’s live nude painting studio-cum-booth (courtesy of New York’s Lambert Gallery).

Among the finds are graffiti-like, charcoal-on-paper collaborations from Ray Smith Studio, representing the bristling energy of the Mexican painter’s Gowanus, Brooklyn digs, itself home to a revolving door of artist alums that include the Bruce High Quality Foundation. Milan’s Edward Cutler Gallery boasts a sweetly Boschian rendition of The Temptation of Saint Anthony by the Chilean artist Mauricio Garrido—obsessively cobbled together from magazine cut-outs of flora, fauna and classical nudes. Paris’ Galerie Spree features black-and-white photographs of tattooed denizens of CBGBs, the now defunct punk lighthouse that once gave the LES so much street cred. And then there are local painter Holton Rower’s acrylic and tempera drip paintings at New York’s The Hole gallery—in a phrase, Damien Hirst on bath salts.

Best in show honours, though, go to Miami’s Spinello Projects. Featuring trompe-l’oeil sculptures of familiar objects like metal folding chairs carved out of wood by the sculptor Richard Haden, and floor rugs that double as electric guitars by the Rema Hort Mann award winner Naama Tsabar, the gallery presents a genuinely thoughtful, conceptually savvy installation inside a space that does regular duty as a dance studio.

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