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This year, one of the hottest days of summer just happened to be the same day as the preview of The Armory Show in New York. A chilly, air-conditioned breeze spilling out from the colossal Javits Center welcomed visitors to this year’s edition, thankfully, which includes more than 225 galleries from all around the world. Beyond the many booths throughout the fairgrounds, there is a great emphasis on the ancillary programs, including off-site projects and wonderfully curated spaces around the fair with compelling art installations.
The Armory Show is also astutely focused on inviting galleries of all sizes and scales to present carefully considered shows that replicate the feeling of a gallery exhibition. “One of the added benefits of this fair is the emphasis they put on highlighting solo artist presentations, which allow for a much more cohesive and educational viewing experience allowing collectors to experience a more in-depth look at an artist,” said New York-based art advisor Anne Bruder. It is this dynamic setup that provides the viewer with an incredibly diverse smattering of opportunities to happen on a truly remarkable range of works.
Across the board, the solo artist presentations are some of the best booths at The Armory Show this year. One of the special highlights is JDJ’s booth with new works by Heather Guertin. This series of oil paintings on canvas highlights the ways in which the artist reflects on drawings, photographs, and illustrations found in discarded books. Rather than directly recreate the visual compositions she happens upon, the paintings are abstracted and reconfigured through the artist’s singular approach to artmaking. The effect is mesmerizing and technically stunning. One could spend endless time studying each work, but seeing this group of paintings together is truly spectacular.
Another exceptional solo presentation is just a few booths down from JDJ at Sargent’s Daughters, where the gallery is showing a series of works by Carlos Rosales-Silva. The artist, born in El Paso on the border of the United States and Mexico, brings together the histories of Mexican muralism and Latin American Modernism into a series of vibrant, highly textured paintings on panel. Composed of crushed stones and glass beads, the highly saturated works bring together geometric forms and naturalistic motifs. Deeply inspired by the history of Modernism in Mexico, this new body of work demonstrates the artist’s inquisitive, celebratory, and attentive approach to artmaking, and the significant connections between art, architecture, and design in Mexico.
Sean Kelly fails to disappoint at The Armory. For this edition, the gallery has brought together a wonderful selection of works by artists including Anthony Akinbola, Dawoud Bey, James Casebere, Julian Charrière, Jose Dávila, Awol Erizku, Laurent Grasso, Candida Höfer, Callum Innes, Idris Khan, Hugo McCloud, Landon Metz, Mariko Mori, Sam Moyer, Shahzia Sikander, Janaina Tschäpe, and Kehinde Wiley. The works on view demonstrate the gallery’s ambitious, multifaceted, and ever-evolving program, and is a booth not to be missed. Added bonus: just outside the booth stands an impressive bronze sculpture by Sikander, which was originally created as part of a public art collaboration between Madison Square Park Conservancy and the Courthouse of the Appellate Division, First Department of the Supreme Court of the State of New York.
Tucked away in one of the remote corners of the fair is a fantastic exhibition of works by Guatemalan artist Diana De Solares. With a background in both architecture and economics, De Solares creates whimsical works on paper and sculptural forms that bridge a connection between the abstract and the practical. Embracing strong lines and vibrant colors, shaped canvas works, collaged two-dimensional compositions, and thoughtfully assembled sculptures made with materials like shoelaces come together in awe-inspiring ways. A text by the artist perfectly encapsulates the dynamism and conceptual depth of the presentation: “The abstract nature of these works does not connect us to specific things in the world, and yet, the works have been created through careful attention to daily movements of the world I inhabit. They are an exercise on multi-sensory perception of fleeting and almost imperceptible phenomena: the slow changes of temperature and colors throughout the day, the various ways in which light appears from sunrise to sundown, the presence of the air on skin and trees, the slow but steady climbing of creepers on the wall, the upward movement of new shoots in cactuses and shrubs, the smell of damp herbs and flowers, the slow disintegration of clouds as they glide slowly in the sky...the setting in of night announcing both extinction and creation.”
This year, Victoria Miro presents a solo presentation of works by Brooklyn-based artist María Berrío. Entitled “A Feast for Ammit,” the works in this thoughtful presentation transport viewers into the whimsical, mythological settings borne from the artist’s experiences and contemporary life. Tackling complex themes of identity, agency, and survival, Berrío continues to inspire with her large-scale paintings adorned with exquisite sourced areas of Japanese paper and watercolor paint. The gallery’s website includes text from the artist about what she envisions as a premiere of “A Feast for Ammit,” which is a must-read as well.
One of the most inventive presentations at the fair is at Micki Meng’s booth, which has devoted the space to artist Cathy Lu’s 2022 installation, “Peripheral Visions.” Royal blue walls are adorned with differently-sized eyes that pour watery tears into utilitarian buckets of all shapes, colors, and sizes, which are scattered around the space. The work, meant to capture the sensation of “emotional release,” is astonishingly complex, both conceptually and logistically. Each eye was inspired by those of notable Asian American women, and, when installed together, transforms the individual sadness of each crying eye into a meditative aural experience of hearing water splash into buckets, creating a collective sense of togetherness.