Arts / Museums

David Shelton Reports* from Dallas Arts Week

BY David Shelton // 04.17.15

A notable Texas gallerist weighs in on year seven of the Fair:
The Dallas Art Fair has incrementally improved its exhibitor list over the past couple of years, with this year generating high-caliber national and international galleries signing on. Accordingly, I let this be my guide. For a sampling of Dallas flair, there is a notable exception, as well as a couple of exhibitions outside of the art fair proper that feature a notorious local duo and some ambitious up-and-comers.

Paul Lee (whose practice includes painting, collage and sculpture, and often incorporates common and found objects) had a trio of very strong 3-D works at Maccarone. Originally from London, Lee currently lives and works in NY and was included in the UIA (Unlikely Iterations of the Abstract) exhibition curated by Bill Arning at the CAMH in 2013. (Maccarone also represents Nate Lowman, whose “America Sneezes” exhibition opened at the Dallas Contemporary last week (though August 23).

Ian Tweedy, showing at Monitor, is a young German-born American whose work I first spotted at The Armory Show in March. His intricately painted pictures consist of beautifully rendered layers of imagery that, according to his dealer, are at times mistaken for collage or photography. Upon inspection, the painterly quality of his work is unleashed, and you find yourself happily lost in its depth and magnitude.

Davide Balula’s work at Galerie Frank Elbaz was impactful as much for its scale as for its intriguing complexity and well-balanced simplicity. One half of a diptych is composed of layered charred wood, while the other half is created from dust of the charred wood transposed onto an exquisite canvas with a beautifully aged patina. His practice encompasses music, performance, sculpture and painting, all of which are conveyed within his work on view. He has been included in recent exhibitions at MoMA PS1; Palais de Tokyo, Paris; Gagosian Paris; and Palazzo Cavour, Turin, organized by Maurizio Cattelan, Myriam Ben Salah and Marta Papini.

Keith Mayerson: I don’t normally include works by artists with whom I work and/or exhibit, so, here’s a necessary disclaimer: I work with and have exhibited Keith’s work in Houston and Miami. I am compelled to include his paintings exhibited in Marlborough Chelsea‘s booth because they truly stood out and were refreshingly clever and beautifully rendered. Mayerson had a significant installation in the section of the 2014 Whitney Biennial curated by Stuart Comer; look for his work in the upcoming inaugural exhibition at the new Renzo Piano-designed Whitney Museum featuring works from their permanent collection. It opens May 1.

Martin Ramirez (1895 – 1963) was a self-taught artist who migrated from Mexico to California in 1925. He spent much of his adult life institutionalized for schizophrenia, during which time he made drawings and collages with materials on hand. His work, on view at Andrew Edlin Gallery, reflects Mexican folk art traditions within the 20th-century landscape and can safely be considered what is now (often erroneously) referred to as outsider art.

Green Gallery consistently has one of the strongest presentations at the Dallas Art Fair (and others such as NADA Miami, for that matter). Along with some great works by Michelle Grabner, this year they included a fantastic grid of small-scale mixed-media drawings by Milwaukee-based artist Peter Barrickman, comprised of abstracted views from an airplane window.

Zhulong is a high-profile newcomer to the Dallas gallery scene, with an emphasis on new media and tech. This focus, as well as the fact that Zhulong presented the only video works I saw at the fair, are of worthy distinction. Renee Cox’s video piece, which contains a powerful message about “the goddess,” which is one of self-love, is a move toward universals in her practice. Giving motion to ancient systems of knowledge, she photographs the contemporary and organizes it according to Eastern, African and Pre-Columbian matrices that were earthly, but also spiritual. Cox addresses social concerns by putting herself in an affirmative position. She has nothing to hide, and the resulting work is as thoughtfully stunning as it is poignant.

Chuck and George (the dynamic team aka Brian K. Scott and Brian K. Jones) are a pair of UNT graduates who have been illuminating the Dallas art scene since the mid-1990s. For their current show at The McKinney Avenue Contemporary (The MAC), they have created a delectable installation of curiosities with humorous flashes of 1970s kitsch. It could alternately be an elaborate set of a retro advertising shoot for things that we are about to learn that we cannot possibly live without. It is on view through May 9, so go see it if you can.

Finally, a special exhibition ran during the weekend of the Dallas Art Fair. Organized by The Consortium — a collaborative of graduate students and faculty at Southern Methodist University, University of Texas at Arlington and University of Texas at Dallas — it included installations by a group of graduate students from the three universities. They also have ongoing programming that includes exhibitions, critiques and critical discussion. Accolades are in order to these ambitious artists and the faculty members who are challenging and encouraging them. Everything about this is interesting and relevant.

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