There was a serious concentration of unknown artists at Scope this year – as it should be. My own personal theme developed quickly (around text) as I checked out the booths aware that I was not going to make it to the Armory Show on the convenient shuttles. What is the need of seeing 600 artists in one day? Better to soak up one small satellite fair. The highlight was the inflating/deflating Corinthian column that appeared to be alive and breathing! It was cast rubber from a real building in Singapore. An uncanny, post-colonialist comment? This unusual piece was only bested by the life-like chairman Mao stuffed into a glass fronted, Coke Machine. What a perfect place for a comment on consumerism enveloping all socialistic mindset. Disturbing ala Italian, artist Maurizio Cattelan or Japanese artist, Yasumasa Morimuri. The poor woman next to me thought it was a real human being! She calmed only after I told her it was fabricated from resin, and not a preserved corpse. Besides, his head was way too big. Another performance piece exemplified intense work ethic at Gallery G-77. Young, Japanese artist, Hiroki Tsuchida (b. 1985) was literally, chained to her own sculpture, a large cartouche shaped mirror. Talk about suffering for your work! This rubbing of shoulders between neo-concept and unadulterated market forces made me queazy.
I was looking for Philadelphia galleries (as usual) but instead found the artist, Wendy Wolf, now based in Boston. She was showing at Fitzroy Knox Gallery and Scope for the first time. I’d remembered her images at Mt Airy Contemporary a few years back; small brush marks morphed into bio-forms that seemed to be living. Unlike water-soluble ink on conventional paper that sinks in, Wolf’s ink sits on top of the plastic radiograph paper. The affect emulates radiological imaging (brain scans) giving the work a medical or scientific resonance. It’s a great twist on the standard premise of the photograph replacing drawing!
My preoccupation with assemblage was exemplified by an unassuming piece in a dark corner by Jeffery Allen Price; a small work of up-cycled cleaning products. He’d fashioned worn out sponges into States of the U.S. This was a grungy, yet beautiful ode to kitchen grime. More text showed up at Parlor Gallery of Asbury Park from artist Ray Geary. These were sweet and affordable, paperweights that read VICE and WANT; made of money and pills, respectively, encased in clear Lucite. Pop music was referenced as the afternoon proceeded. At Galleria Ghetta, British artist, Chris Gilmore’s cardboard replicas of the Beatles’ instruments brought up several contemporary obsessions. Even more neo-Christian Markley was the die-cut vinyl record portraits of punk musicians and rock stars by artist, Keith Haynes at Wolff Gallery, London. Images of those four guys from the Hard Day’s Night album cover hit the nail on the head. He also used cut out records to spell All You Need Is Love; perhaps a tad arch but a lot more interesting than merely re-purposing LP’s into bowls and ashtrays. In another space, a similar piece made by another artist used an iconic image of Jimi Hendrix composed of colored pills. The druggy metaphor was a little heavy handed but the execution was effective. It must have been commissioned by a global pharmaceutical firm.