Top 10 Artists at LISTE Basel 2016
This year marked the 21st anniversary of Art Basel’s younger and cooler sister, LISTE. Since its inception in 1995 the fair defined the “list” of hype, emerging art galleries with a strong curatorial statement. Despite the usual tough selection of galleries, this edition received mixed comments from the art world, mostly motivated by the high presence of sculptures, paintings and wall pieces and almost total absence of installations and videos. This phenomenon had different interpretations by the fair’s audience, somebody talked about a higher need of stability and “safe” artworks in the art market at the moment, some pointed at the need for galleries to recoup the ever-rising cost of participating in art fairs, some to a scarce novelty in the artists’ practices, and some others to all of the above.
Although it is true that, compared to the past editions, LISTE is becoming always more market-oriented, and there’s always less space for “courageous” or “groundbreaking” booths, it’s also true that the fair remains one of the few focused on those emerging galleries and artists that are outside the bubble of speculation and aim at exhibiting and creating art of great quality, regardless of the medium employed.
Here is what we found particularly eye-catching around LISTE this year:
Phoebe Collings-James at Arcadia Missa, London
The London born and based artist is making a name for herself creating delicate but spunky works that span from sculpture and painting to video and performance. For LISTE, she created a series of pieces inspired by binary symbols of hope and fear, a delightful mix of drawing and painting, and a sound installation. The works created a great balance with Kerstin Bratch’s bold pieces in Deborah Schamoni’s booth.
Matteo Callegari at Federico Vavassori, Milan
Matteo Callegari’s paintings seem to be the perfect representation of an Italian artist living in New York. On the surface, the big colorful paintings resemble process-based abstraction, where the oil paint is skillfully blended on the surface to create the effect of a striped gradient, while the same oil paint underneath is softened and looks like pastel. But the starting point of Callegari’s works are Renaissance paintings that the artist deconstructs to create the abstract pattern.
Andrea Crespo at Kraupa-Tuskany Zeidler, Berlin
Andrea Crespo’s works strike with their dainty aesthetic veiling a complex significance. Her characters are double-headed manga-looking figures, through which she investigates the definition of self, the relationship with our own body and gender, and how we relate this perception with that of others. In a world where the boundaries of gender and differences between human beings are trying to be erased, Crespo’s work gets charged of a strong social meaning underneath the melancholically playful appearance.
Tomaso de Luca at Monitor, Rome
Tomaso de Luca’s works have a Modernist style, with a contemporary flavor. Some of the works exhibited at LISTE are Cubism-style sculptures that seem made of wood or cardboard, but that are instead 3D printed sculptures. What’s particularly interesting is that the sculptures are not an exact recreation of the original model, but rather an interpretation of the same 3D printer, which is unable to read some of the original cast’s details and thus creates little imprecisions.
Valerie Snobeck at Essex Street, New York
Valerie Snobeck’s works have the appearance of precious debris. The pieces exhibited stand between sculpture and installation, as Snobeck arranges post-industrial glass sculptures on metallic tables. The sculptures look like discarded bottles of detergent, while they’re made through an antique artisanal technique. Each sculpture is molded blowing into the metallic strays and that’s how the artist obtains the sculpture’s irregular shapes.
Georgia Gardner Gray at Croy Nielsen, Berlin
Georgia Gardner Gray’s paintings leap out next to Olga Balema’s in Croy Nielsen’s booth. The contrast between Balema’s light, minimal pieces and Gray’s ghostly, figurative paintings seem to represent the aesthetic evolution of the art world in the past years. Gray’s works are not pleasant or cheerful to look at, but their color balance and expressionist style make them meditative and powerful at the same time.
Nathan Zeidman at High Art, Paris
The Parisian gallery High Art seemed to recreate a shop of Montmartre in their booth. Fun is that the artist is Nathan Zeidman, who’s based in LA and born in 1990. Zeidman’s paintings intrigue for their timeless appearance, and an aesthetic that brings back to Impressionism. Zeidman’s practice is strongly linked with that of Impressionists indeed, as he too likes to paint both in the studio and en-plein-air.
Yuji Agematsu at Real Fine Art, New York
For the past 25 years the Japanese conceptual artist Yuji Agematsu picked up a residue per day from the streets of New York, conserving it in the cellophane wrapper of a pack of cigarettes. The small and colorful souvenirs of New York’s streets are then arranged on white shelves, positioned according to the day they were found, thus recreating a punk-looking calendar, a psychedelic diary of contemporary urban life.
Jannis Varelas at The Breeder, Athens
On the surface, Jannis Varelas’ paintings look like grotesque, almost childish, drawings filling up the canvas of bright, primitive figures. But on a deeper level they are the Greek artist’s reflections on the relation of the individual with society, on how political and economical changes affect the freedom of the individual, and sarcastically joke with history, religion and sexuality, as if the aesthetic of these paintings becomes a vehicle to a deeper understanding of our real self.
Dawn Kasper at David Lewis, New York
The performance artist Dawn Kasper usually puts herself at the center of her practice, sometimes involving the audience in her interdisciplinary performances. But in David Lewis’ booth the work itself – inspired by the installation the artist created in the gallery for her last solo show – relates to the public. The Duchampian sculptures are cymbals with bells attached, that sound as somebody passes by.
LISTE Art Fair, Basel, Switzerland, June 13-18 2017