Art Basel 2014 (3) – SCOPE (B)
This is the second article about SCOPE in Basel, June 2014, the first here. And among the artists I’d like to introduce to you here is Patrick Tschudi who lives and works in Lima, Peru. At first his works may appear flat and cool, all the people have a round black head and colour is applied very sparsely and never mixed. They are C-Prints in limited editions.
At the same time there is something touching about them.
It seems that he is occupied with the role of individual human beings in cities and other spaces where there are masses of people, strangers. The black ball heads are not necessarily a sign of de-humanization but, perhaps, more a way of saying that while we are all individuals we are all exactly that: human beings who don’t have to feel alone but may enter into relationships because of what we all share as human beings?
I find the two people on the bench overlooking a harbour with that huge industrial complex and bridge far away quite moving although I don’t see any obvious attempt to appeal to the spectator’s emotions in Tschudi’s work.
You may see many more on his homepage. The various series and categories have titles such as “believers”, “nowhereland” and “signs”. Perhaps I am attracted to these prints because they are so clearly affiliated with photography.
I have no idea how Tschudi goes about creating them but the point of departure could be a photograph which is processed or, rather, re-created in Photoshop. But that’s just speculation.
What is also interesting is the attempt to reduce everything to its pure forms. His images of everyday activities are reduced to shapes, there are no details. There is a kind of haiku quality to Tschudi’s works also in the sense that they are not supposed to convey any emotions. They are factual and you may put whatever “meaning” into them you like, if any.
Here are two such works from his homepage.
Oh, simplicity and sophistication in one!
Net, I’ll introduce you to Wu Jianan from China and one of his works, “Steadying the Mountains No. 1(2014) ” which is a dead tree trunk coloured with water colour pigment, sketching paper cuts coloured with powdery ink and pencil.
The aesthetics of his culture is very clear and the three-dimensional sculpture behind glass is very attractive, lots of fine details in the borderland between raw nature and artistic media.
There are of course quite a lot of Japanese, Chinese and Hongkong art galleries represented here in Basel. Wi Jianan belongs to BA Beautiful Assets in Beijing, established only 5 years ago. Interestingly, it is not an art gallery as such but rather an investment company that takes art seriously. Here an excerpt from its homepage:
“In the past two years, the company has established the whole art industrial chain. With the fund management being the essential part, the whole chain covers the exhibition promoting, media promoting, art-work evaluating, art-work transacting, art-work custody as well as artist brokerage. Thus the business model of the industry chain for art works has formed a unique competitive advantage for BA within the industry.”
It sounds interesting and innovative to me. What could be more important if you have capital but to help artists get known and bought around the world and even benefit yourself?
There are so many one could write about at SCOPE!
Here is a moving piece of peace – or so I interpret it. It’s called “Tank II” and the motive is constructed by thousands of plastic army men. The artist is Abby Schmidt of the Five Gallery.
Finally from SCOPE, a brilliant photographer – Amadeo Bergés shown by Galleria Contrast in Barcelona. See more of his works and read his thoughts here. Very fine tableaux, narratives and aesthetic drama in his works. And superb photographic techniques. His nudes too are indeed different from most in that genre. For me it was very important to meet a photographer of this calibre whom I had never heard about – and that is exactly what fairs are for.
With all due respect, photography should not be about only the contemporary, high-priced masters such as Candida Höfer, the Bechers, Thomas Struth, Gursky, etc. Those you find tons of at the Art Basel but here is an example of why SCOPE is pleasantly different – and offers surprises and discoveries.
Downtown Art Basel itself is fabulous to see. I mean, seeing the works as physical objects and not on a computer screen is great but it’s artists and images you have seen already if you are interested in art photography. There are displayed at Art Basel to fetch money for the exhibitors because it is indeed expensive to have a stand here.
SCOPE is the “wow” place – mostly for good but also, sometimes, for being flashy, decorative, kitschy – or whatever you’ll put on things which have little depth but lots of colourful surfaces and would better have appeared in a gift shop than in an art space.