Monthly Archives: June 2013

Art Basel (4) – What I like. Simply.

At a place with over 300 galleries and more than 4 000 artists from all over the world, it is of course impossible to mention everything one likes. Actually, if you have the slightest interest in contemporary art, it is much better you go there yourself next year; a pas to all four exhibition days is € 95 and I find it worth every Euro.

I won’t explain to you why I like the works below. But we live in times where it is important for many – no matter the field – to criticize, put down, appear more experienced, etc. for reasons I don’t know. I believe in positive energy, in inspiration and in learning from what others do – more from those you like than those you don’t like. After all, we may learn from our own mistakes but cannot essentially learn from those committed by others. But you can learn from those who are much better than yourself. Continue reading

Art Basel (3) – Art in Basel outside Art Basel

There is a lot going on all the time, all over Basel. But there are three major points beyond the Art Basel space itself, namely Parcours in the Klingental area next to Mittlere Bridge – walking distance from the Art Basel Halls and part of Art Basel; then there is Design Miama/Basel which is in the Art Basel complex and, finally, SCOPE at Uferstrasse quite far up – or rather down – River Rhine. And if you have not experienced enough art, you may continue on Tuesday after Art Basel to visit galleries, the Kunsthalle, the Kunstmuseum and Foundation Beyeler – the latter beautifully situated in Riehen some 10 min with a tram out into the countryside. Whether or not you are interested in the exhibition at Beyeler’s you can always enjoy the wonderful collection of works in superb surroundings.

Before you leave the Fair itself for one or more of these, you may relax a  bit and enjoy the breath-taking view on the top-floor bar of the Ramada Hotel right next to Art Basel – and why not with a Campari as I did?

Campari in a glass © Jan Oberg 2013

Campari in a glass © Jan Oberg 2013

Parcours is for the larger sculptures, events, films, performances and installations in the street – and you may also visit an old barrack which is no longer used for military purposes but by artists who rent rooms as their studios. That’s actually what I visited. All of it is much less “fine” and pretentious and you may have a chat with artists, young and old. Continue reading

Art Basel (2) – Some observations and trends

Art Basel (1)

Art Basel is two sections – the “classical” two floors in the Fair Centre and the huge “Unlimited” hall with “projects that transcend the limitations of a classical art-fair stand.”

Entrance to Art Basel © Jan Oberg 2013

Entrance to Art Basel     © Jan Oberg 2013

Can one discern any trends out of the bewildering diversity of art at the Art Basel? Here are a few observations without prioritizing:

• one trend is that there is no trend – everything can be mixed, art schools and art categories seems to be a thing of the past; Continue reading

Art Basel 2013 (1)

Evelina Cajacob, Hand Arbeit 2011

It is huge and totally bewildering, the Art Basel fair. It’s dynamic history dating back to 1970 and three Basel gallerists explains to some extent why it is the world’s foremost gathering of galleries, collectors, investors, art lovers, etc. Nowhere else can you see more than 300 art galleries presenting more than 4000 artists and making business to the alleged sum of about US$ 2 billion in just four days.

Washington Post’s Kartherine Boyle has an interesting angle on it all: What does Art Basel tell us about wealth and the general economy? It is not the only angle, of course, but what you do experience is, indeed, the perverse commercialization of everything art at the art “market”. Today’s art world consists of promotion of marketable status symbols at often ridiculously high prices without even the slightest relation to whatever you may believe could be called quality.

Art lover in front of Louise Lawler's "Salon Hodler", 1992-93 © Jan Oberg 2013

Art lover in front of Louise Lawler’s “Salon Hodler”, 1992-93 © Jan Oberg 2013

“It’s all about marketing, there is no other criteria today”, as a British art dealer friend of mine laments. And having been in the business for more than four decades, he knows. And he still comes here every year because – yes, exactly – it is, at the same time, damn exciting to experience all that happens. Continue reading

Basel Flowers

A couple of years ago I took this iPhone image (with Hipstamatic app) at the central market square in Basel, Switzerland. I thought the colours around that yellow bucket were so crisp and a joyful and the Hipstamatic app created the frame, yellow to the left and pink to the right in amazing harmony with the flowers.


Basel Flowers # 1 © Jan Oberg 2013

The more I looked at it, I began to see something potentially abstract about this rather spontaneous shot. And, so, I began to work quite a bit with it in Photoshop and here is another “whiter” version of it that I actually ended up printing on aluminum.


Basel Flowers # 3 © Jan Oberg 2013

The interesting thing about printing on metal is that what is white in an image will become the colour of the metal since there is no white pigment in the printer. What is also interesting is that it is possible to make virtually unlimited colour combinations on a piece like this. You can decide that what is blue should become green, what is yellow should become pink etc. So if you love colours and enjoy experimenting with various options and expressions, you can in principle go on forever. So if this is called # 3 – it could be changed again and again and become # 333…

Now, I cut out the upper parts of this second version and used it for fun on my personal profile page on Facebook. I had no idea that these happy colours would cause many-more-than-usual and very positive reactions.  If a simple, everyday photographic shot can make people happy, I want to find out what that “it” is. I want a dialogue about my photos (even the “photoshopped” versions of them) with people on Facebook, LinkedIn and here on this blog.

And why not?

If I had had an exhibition at a gallery and talked with the visitors, they would have told me something – anything – and I would be able to learn more about how people perceive and interpret what I have created.

After all – is there anything more fascinating than discussing how we perceive reality and how images create associations of thoughts and emotions in us? My works of course exist whether nobody, one or thousands see them. But is is a “bonus” beyond words to dialogue with an image as point of departure.

When somebody says “it’s beautiful” I would be a fool if I didn’t appreciate it as a statement and also did not get curious about the cause. Because we have more than enough of bad quality, violent and boring images around us every day. Regrettably, to many – perhaps most – people it’s probably much more difficult to define what it is that expresses beauty and peace – whereas we also know violence and ugliness the moment we see it.

That said, look out for your little glimpse of beauty next time you go shopping vegetables at your market square! And imagine it as the same thing – but changed like # 3 above! A photo is a photo is a photo is a…