Contemporary art Fairs USA

A critic’s guide to the satellite fairs: the blue devils of Nada

Christian Viveros-Fauné sees the cool kids from Miami find their niche in New York

David Brooks's Stress Tests: Un-Sites No. 1-2 & 3-5 (homage to Gordon), 2013, at American Contemporary gallery

There comes a time in the life of every enterprise when the ideals of youth confine rather than expand vision. Such is the case with the New Art Dealers Alliance (Nada) art fair, which has long been looking to follow up their brilliant first act, originally performed in Miami circa 2002. A better, more seasoned show than its 2012 New York debut, this year’s event evinces that quality cultural critic Albert Murray (from whom this column’s title is cribbed) once termed “a contemporary American approach to aesthetic statement”.

Held in bright, spacious new digs—Basketball City, at 299 South Street along the East River—the fair exits Chelsea and the awkward shadow of the Independent fair, which also shows (in March) in the former Dia Art Foundation building on West 22nd Street. Featuring 70 exhibitors, up from 60 last May, this year’s Nada appears especially strong in the local portion of the art fair’s necessarily “glocal” profile. Despite having more than 16 galleries from Europe and elsewhere, more than a third of Nada’s exhibitors hail from the five boroughs. That’s probably as it should be—after all, everyone knows most New York artists and dealers are from someplace else.

Bucking a worldwide trend toward slacker abstraction in both painting and sculpture, a number of the fair’s galleries strike out in original directions. First among these is Chelsea’s Newman Popiashvili Gallery with the Lower East Side's Fitzroy Gallery, whose brainy Meg Cranston installation combines a portrait of Kate Middleton, a monochrome painting, and the real-life fashion frenzy over this year’s official Pantone hue: emerald green, 2013’s new color of money (speaking of, the entire installation is priced at $45,000). New York’s Invisible-Exports features a suite of 12 Genesis P-Orridge Polaroids on the subject of body modification; dating from 1997-2005, the series will be on view in a show on the artist at the Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh come June (individual prints are priced at $1,200). An LES favorite, Eleven Rivington features a large, moody painting by the young German artist Volker Hueller, fairly dripping with 1930s modernist painterly references (€18,000), as well as a ripped poster and particle-board construction by the New Yorker Michael DeLucia—Mimmo Rotella meets Jackson Heights, Queens street advertising ($22,000).

But the most compelling art in the fair appears courtesy of the Bowery’s American Contemporary gallery, a repeat offender in the best of Nada category. Featuring the muscular, Gordon Matta-Clark-inflected work of the sculptor David Brooks at both its booth and a special projects section, the gallery’s ambitious presentation reminds me of Nada’s salad days, a full decade ago. It’s entirely possible that this event’s best years are ahead of it yet.


Breyer P-Orridge, Full Lotus in 5 Inch Heels, 1996, at Invisible-Exports
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