This year New York’s PULSE delivered a distinctive art fair by carefully selecting its exhibitors and thoroughly curating the venue. Although PULSE serves as a springboard for emerging galleries, the works presented were already highly sophisticated. Here are the top 10 artists from PULSE 2015 who might be leading the contemporary art scene over the next few years.
Yuasa integrates woodcut prints with digital technology. Using Photoshop, the Japanese artist imports a photograph and overlays sloping lines that he will carve to create the final work. He then transfers the design onto a wood block and begins to chisel. Regardless of the well-planned process, the image gradually deviates from the original blueprint during its creation. Yuasa plays with the inevitable nuance that is created by the marriage of digital and manual processes.
Messenger’s works are described as ink on paper, but the process he follows is unique. He soaks a sheet of paper with ink, and places it outside when the temperature is below freezing. While the work slowly freezes, moisture in the paper moves the ink and leaves traces that look like the cross section of a fern leaf. They are geometric, yet serendipitous. Messenger lets the natural process draw the images on his behalf. Although the artist’s hand is completely absent from the works, the images could have not been made without Messenger’s creativity and involvement.
Keever takes photographs of colorful liquids being poured into a large aquatic tank. The shape of the pigment mirrors smoke coming out from a volcanic eruption, while simultaneously resembling chemical reactions as observed under a microscope. Due to this physical dichotomy, viewers lose the sense of scale while standing in front of the works. Keever doesn’t have control over how the bright fluid spreads in the water, but he can manipulate the order of the liquids as they are mixed with the water. The images capture ephemeral moments of controlled chaos, just before the pigments merge and the water becomes cloudy.
Melissa Maddonni Haims
Haims chooses knitting as her art-making process. She started a project called ‘Offering’ when she lost her best friend in a tragic car accident. During her mourning, Haims felt an urge to create something to commemorate her friend. She started crocheting stones found on the street. Knitting is a simple and repetitive motion, but it is a meditative action, which helped Haims to come to terms with her friend’s death. Now she is working on a new series that tracks the victims of gun violence below 18 with her crochet.
Parisi goes to abandoned factories, schools, and concert halls and photographs the interiors. Erosion and weathering provide a completely different appearance to the structures. Interestingly, the decaying process adds a new set of colors with moss and dust while original colors of the interiors fade away. These forgotten facilities get a new lease on life. In Parisi’s pictures, the objects left behind by the previous tenants speak loudly, as though they enjoy the absence of human beings and can exist on their own terms.
Hongxing’s works are eye-catching from near or far; their intricate images are obvious when you stand close, while pop colors catch your attention from a distance. A more detailed look reveals that the works are a collage of raised PVC stickers for kids. The PULSE audience participated in the creation of the large-scale piece located in the center of the gallery’s booth, which imitates a Tibetan sand mandala (House of Cards fans will recall this concept from an episode in Season 3). Instead of colored sand, stickers and toys were used for the mandala. While a Tibetan sand mandala is meant to be dismantled and returned to the earth to symbolize the transiency of life, Hongxing’s mandala is made of non-degradable materials, which gives a twist to her work.
It is not an overstatement to say that white is a special color in art making. It is the color of a primed canvas as well as the color that attracts viewers’ attention the most. How to paint or not paint white has been an interesting decision to make for many artists. Matisse, Frank Stella, and Robert Ryman dealt with this issue differently in their masterworks. However, Maulwurf takes a unique approach. She draws on museum board using charcoal, then scratches the surface to bring up white creating a monochrome work. It’s not additive or reductive, but a defacing process that introduces white into her image. Despite this seemingly audacious method, her images are extremely delicate.
Kappa is interested in how public streets transform their faces over time. He photographs streets in Miami from directly above, then carefully reconstructs the image on his canvas, using asphalt and dirt. While the unconventional materials give a strong sense of reality, the patches and markings bring our attention to how constantly public streets are being reformed. There are colorful numbers and letters sprayed for various reasons, but we don’t know what they mean.
Gannis’ large-scale panel piece was inspired by Hieronymus Bosch’s ‘The Garden of Earthly Delights’, the masterpiece filled with religious symbols that appears to be eccentric to contemporary eyes. Using emojis, Gannis boldly updated the image into ‘The Garden of Emoji Delights’, which is no less nightmarish than the original painting. We skillfully use those emojis to replace texts in our messages. But who knows if these symbols will carry the same meanings into the future.
Green combines photographs of buildings, blueprints, and figures into a single plane. Although the deliverables are fictional landscapes, they look monumental as though you’ve seen them somewhere before. The layers of his images are extremely intricate and brilliantly integrated. It is hard to believe that the blueprints have nothing to do with the buildings in the images. They take the viewers’ imagination to the unseen domain of architecture that surrounds us.