When it comes to today's art scene, Forrest Nash has seen it all—or at least as much as is humanly possible, in the process of sifting through gallery shows around the world to showcase the best on his avidly followed site Contemporary Art Daily. Here, Nash applies his well-traveled eye to NADA Miami Beach, sharing his favorite works at this year's fair.
ASS HOLE, 2015
Misako & Rosen
I think that my dog Spider-Man probably thinks that I am an asshole sometimes, even as I convince myself that she loves me dearly. Ken Kagami's genius is to use the black humor of perverting something as familiar a spoonfull of sugar to mask diverse insights into people and the world. It is true that puppies do not necessarily experience anything like the emotional narratives we project onto them, and that we could just as easily interpret each adorable interaction as a desperate negotiation. Maybe the wild animal inside of my dog resents my species for enslaving it and breeding it to be helpless. Maybe she knows everything that I project onto her, and it makes her resent me even more.
I've known Kaoru Arima's work for many years, and recently I had the privilege of writing about it in the catalog for his exhibition at Misako & Rosen
. These hats surprised me. My favorites are those with a sort of glowing blob at the front, like an energetic forcefield protecting the wearer's brain from harm or externalizing the blurry gestalt inside her mind.
Recently Tyson Reeder's work has taken a more emotional, even romantic direction. His subtle humor is still there, however, in the no less than four trash cans depicted within this lush outdoor scene.
Sam Lipp, who will also be participating in NADA as a gallerist with New York's Queer Thoughts
(which happen to be showing some works by my partner, Puppies Puppies
), just closed an exhibition called Abandonment
at Central Fine in Miami that helped me turn a corner in my understanding of his work. Lipp's haunting, cropped portraits of Michael Jackson contributed greatly to that show's cinematic feeling of alienation and distance. The artist's signature visual noise is a numbing agent, a third layer over the physical and emotional numbing written on Jackson's face.
The situation of Greg Parma Smith's Angels (Evening) is as strange and compelling as I've come to expect from this artist. Two ancient faces appear to be pressing up against the stretchy surface of the sky, scary angels watching what's happening on earth so intently that they're about to break the film separating us from heaven. It's a gorgeously difficult painting by a heroically difficult artist.
Lin May Saeed, whose work we at Contemporary Art Daily have published countless times, deals primarily with ideas of animal liberation—of radically changing how humans relate to animals. Her moving exhibition at Thomas Flor in Berlin last year is the reason I am a vegetarian.
Ulrich Wulff just opened an excellent exhibition with Tif Sigfrids here in Los Angeles. I'm excited to see him return to a more overtly figurative line
after a period of greater abstraction. In an era where painting's continuum is so granularly articulated, with every possible variation of every idea belonging to someone, Wulff is easily differentiated from everyone else I follow.
Heather Guertin's stunningly accomplished paintings, for me, have two sides. You Are OK's affirming title first points to one side, giving me unconditional permission to enjoy the obvious pleasure afforded by examining each elegant gesture, letting my eyes gently vacillate between the seeing the face and seeing the painting. But the painting's other side, like its title's, is bleak and existential. Affirmations and the pleasure of painting can reveal a pointed emptiness, and just as the painting darkens, its face can begin to look like an armored sentinel, or even a corpse. I can only imagine that living with one is a rich, nuanced, ambiguous experience, like coming to know a person.
There are few living artists I admire as profoundly as D'Ette Nogle. She created this work for an exhibition that my partner and I curated at Essex Street in New York this summer. Despite its simple premise, collecting video clips from popular culture depicting human pregnancy, it would be easy to write a book exploring its various dimensions. The work addresses so many urgent ideas on such a broad range of intellectual scales that I'm not sure I can believe it exists.