In the fair whose name says nothing, there was definitely a lot to absorb. When the New Art Dealer Alliance decided to sit this year’s New York edition in Basketball City, eyebrows raised. And indeed, it was surreal to walk through a maze of over 70 galleries from as far away as Tallinn, while passing by still visible scoreboards and hoops. Nevertheless, this year’s NADA Art Fair was a solid presentation. And with works ranging from a multi-colored computer screensaver to an installation involving performers wandering the aisles in metallic silver zentai, it was not hard to escape the incongruity of art collectors at a public recreation facility.
One of the main trends was that painting is back (again). But while NIGHT Gallery presented pretty and mundane figurative works on canvas, others displayed painting that incorporated new and dynamic elements. Daniel Faria Gallery presented a hauntingly curious collection of lips painted onto photographs of sunsets. Brennan & Griffin’s booth featured two color-field-esque paintings that employed bright neon light tubes to bring color off the canvas. Conversely, LOYAL Gallery’s paintings that utilized digital projections of geometric shapes heightened the illusion of flatness.
Bold presentations were noted throughout the fair. The School of Art Institute of Chicago featured a fascinating array of functioning/non-functioning design art objects; of particular interest was the six mice carcasses that had been fashioned into a cube. The artist team of Merkx & Gwynne was literally dramatic – creating a full set that featured trompe l’oeil artworks, a 15 foot high medieval tower, period costumes, and a mountable fake horse—they planned to film a reenactment of King Arthur for the duration of the fair.
In all, it was obvious that NADA was not Frieze, which this year was a good thing. While Frieze brought semblances of in-the-know art culture to collectors through food (Roberta’s, Marlow and Sons, Mission Chinese), NADA brought actual avant-garde. While both fairs prominently featured waterfront views, NADA’s location across from the art havens of Greenpoint, Williamsburg, and Bushwick was a subtle indication of the type of works featured. Depth, presence, daring, and innovation could be seen everywhere.