Fairs USA

Sex and drugs at inaugural Nada in New York

Solo presentations and curated booths prove popular at this expanded event

Are the works of Henry Codax (above) a secret collaboration between Jacob Kassay and Olivier Mosset?

Nada, it turns out, is artspeak for exciting. The New Art Dealers Alliance, Nada for short, is currently putting on a 70-gallery fair at the former Dia Center for the Arts building (until Monday)—recently home to the Independent fair. The latest in a series of expansions by this gallery-led, not-for-profit organisation (whose origins date back to the first Art Basel Miami Beach in 2002), the present fair is Nada’s first show in Manhattan after recent outings in Hudson, upstate New York, and Cologne, Germany.

On view is a wide range of presentations, including solo exhibitions and well-curated booths. One stand-out is Feature Inc’s booth (2.26), installed by its director Hudson (he prefers to remain mononymous), which houses works by various gallery artists alongside Richard Kern’s photographs of nude girls puffing on marijuana cigarettes. One especially successful mash-up sandwiches Naoto Nakagawa’s rectangular flower painting (Earth Wave X, 2011, $30,000) between two of Kern’s pot-smoking lasses (Milan Smoker, 2009, edition of 3, $7,500 each, and French Pot Smoker, 2009, edition of 3, $7,500 each).

Not to be outdone, Martos Gallery (3.34) has installed six untitled pastel monochrome paintings by the mysterious Henry Codax. Shaped either as squares or rectangles, Codax’s acrylic on linen works come in various colours, ranging from teal to violet, and range in price from $6,000 to $10,000. When asked if the persistent rumour linking Codax to an ongoing collaboration between the artists Olivier Mosset and Jacob Kassay was true, the gallery director Mary Grace Wright denied it.

Leo Koenig Inc (3.54) features a large canvas with caviar and brick by the painter Georg Herold (Brick Painting, 1989, $150,000) and a Carl Andre lead floor sculpture (Quoid Pb, 1990, $50,000) alongside new sculptures and “mirror paintings” by the New York trompe l’oeil master Tony Matelli. Matelli’s grime-spattered, graffitied mirrors turn out to be exercises in labour intensive precision—works like Chris, 2012 ($25,000) and Big Tits, 2011 ($30,000) involve exhaustive masking, hand drawing and acid etching.

Best in show, though, goes to the space belonging to New York’s Untitled and London’s Ibid galleries (4.54). A joint booth displaying huge cedar wood totem poles whittled down to toothpicks by the US artist David Adamo, the installation communicates the majesty of its original venue—Bergamo’s Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore. The sculptures are priced between $10,000 and $40,000, with two sold before the start of the fair.

Untitled, 2011, by David Adamo
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