At CONTEXT Art Miami, a California Gallery Celebrates 40 Years, Featuring Venus in Ferrari Red
In Ovid’s Metamorphoses, the goddess of love emerges from the sea on a large seashell. Centuries later, the imagery inspired Sandro Botticelli’s famous Renaissance painting, The Birth of Venus (circa 1480)—a work that, in turn, inspired a striking bronze sculpture by contemporary artist Roger Reutimann.
Reutimann’s Venus, like Botticelli’s, is graceful and feminine, modestly covering part of her naked body. But in the contemporary version, the subject doesn’t have long, flowing hair: Her head is a bare skull. And Reutimann’s Venus isn’t bathed in natural light or rendered in soft hues: She’s lacquered in Ferrari red, an ultra-glossy automobile paint.
According to the artist, the 2010 piece is a comment on the commodification of art and the glorification of glamour in our fast-paced modern society. Fittingly, it’s called Death of Venus.
The brash sculpture is one of several works on
display this week in Hohmann’s booth at CONTEXT Art Miami. It’s a particularly celebratory moment for the gallery and
the artists involved: This month, Hohmann celebrates 40 years in fine art.
Throughout the past four decades, the family-run gallery has sought to bridge the gap between classic and contemporary, highlighting the works of emerging artists alongside more established talents. It stands to reason, then, that Hohmann’s fair booth offers an eclectic range of works.
And yet there are parallels to be found in the collection. The solitary female figure of Warmth of an Echo (2016), a new piece by the sculptor JD Hansen, echoes the elegant form of Reutimann’s Venus. Instead of being painted with bright automotive paint, her torso is handwritten with lines of prose, pointing toward a subtler message—more specifically, toward the artist’s interest in human communication and belief systems.
Kimber Berry’s work, by contrast, isn’t representational. For CONTEXT Art Miami, Hohmann includes one of her mixed-media pieces, Infinite Gardener (2013), an abstract piece saturated with splashy colors. It would seem, on first glance, to have little in common with Reutimann’s Death of Venus—but isn’t there a similarity in the long, curving lines, the bold color palette, even the theme? Berry, after all, has said that her early work was a reaction to the glitzy ads and images that colored the Hollywood of her youth.
Like Reutimann, Berry is engaged with contemporary culture and the relationship among media, commerce, and human psychology. On closer examination, her works, along with everything else in Hohmann’s booth, are smartly chosen and surprisingly complementary. Such choices speak to the gallerists’ experience. This is what 40 years in the business looks like.
Hohmann’s booth at CONTEXT Art Miami is on view Nov. 29–Dec. 4, 2016.