5 Artists to Discover at Liste Art Fair Basel
Installation view, “Eva Fàbregas: Vessels” at Bombon Projects, 2022. Courtesy of the artist and Bombon Projects.
While Art Basel in Basel undoubtedly draws the lion’s share of attention from the art world this time of year, there’s more to the city than the marquee fair. Just next door to the multimillion-dollar works and blue-chip names sits Liste. A well-established home for galleries and artists on the rise—and often featuring works that don’t require a trust fund to acquire—the fair returns this year with 82 exhibitors from 37 countries. Below are five of the most exciting artists from this year’s fair.
Kyiv-based artist Kateryna Buchatska works across a variety of media—wax, concrete, resin, styrofoam, pen, and ink. But her most interesting works are her small levkas paintings. Levkas is a traditional medium used to prepare painting surfaces: Made by mixing a powder with glue (usually derived from animals), the resulting substance is layered over and over again on a canvas, panel, or other substrate. Its stark white color allows for hues applied later to shine as brightly as possible.
Though the levkas technique was traditionally used in icon painting, Buchatska updates the practice while hinting at its art-historical past. Airy abstractions mingle with roughly sketched animals; a threatening volcanic peak dissolves into a sketchy roadscape; classical forms such as pillars and arches are collaged together with hard-edged geometries. These works are brooding, occasionally unsettling, but most of all, they feel elusive, like the memory of a quickly dissolving dream.
Armando d. Cosmos
Southard Reid, Booth 2
Armando d. Cosmos, Gossypium Hirsutum, 2022. Courtesy of the artist and Southard Reid.
Armando d. Cosmos, Engineering of Growth, 2019. Courtesy of the artist and Southard Reid.
The woven works of Armando d. Cosmos are hyper-focused on the way mankind has worked to bend nature to its will. In his Gossypium Hirsutum (2022), he depicts a genetically modified cotton plant that has been engineered to be poisonous to weevils, the skittering pests depicted along with skulls around the edges of the work.
His tapestry about the herbicide Roundup—part advertisement, part infographic, part science diagram—is so intricately detailed it’s hard to know where to look first. Roots seem ready to dig themselves through the bottom of the fabric, and a pod of peas appears ready to burst. Cosmos’s work is unrelenting in its view that human attempts to alter the natural world on the most fundamental levels are inherently hubristic, but rarely have diatribes been so tactilely engaging.
Bombon Projects, Booth 1
“Don’t touch the art”: a rule that we’ve all had driven into us. But the Barcelona-born, London-based Eva Fàbregas encourages—demands—that we break it. Her erotically charged abstract sculptures are made to be poked, prodded, flicked, and squeezed.
Desire is at the heart of these works: the desire to connect, to caress, to feel—and it’s impossible not to be drawn in. But just because these sculptures might suggest a breast, a phallus, or a scrotum doesn’t make them X-rated. Equally at play here are alien ideas, and it wouldn’t be surprising if you stumbled on any of these pieces at the bottom of the sea or on another planet. Playfully seductive and seductively playful, an unavoidable joy suffuses Fàbregas’s sculptures as well as her paintings, which have a similarly raunchy nature.
blank projects, Booth 61
The double portraits of Gregory Olympio have an intimate mystery about them. The Togo-born, France-based artist’s subjects aren’t real people; he has no sitters, but paints from memories and creations of his own mind. This series with two figures is a departure from his earlier, single-person portraits, a move that, along with his loose brushwork, heightens the ambiguity in his scenes.
Leaning against one another, none of the people here seem to be particularly happy, but their physical contact suggests a deeper connection: They could be lovers, friends, siblings. We feel like we’ve just stumbled upon the end of an argument, when both parties are still stinging but reconciliation is just on the horizon. These works are particularly interesting in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, when physical separation was a forced necessity, and the enigmatic, standoffish figures here are curiously alluring.
Efremidis, Booth 5
Young-jun Tak, Six Miracles, 2021. Courtesy of the artist and Efremidis
Young-jun Tak tackles religion head-on in his various sculptural practices offering critiques—some subtle, some less so—of Christanity. Most overt is his collection of Christ children in mangers, all rendered out of homophobic pamphlets that were distrubted in his native South Korea. The figures are at once ghostly and impactful, the repetition of their forms underscoring the repeated ways that religion has been used as a pretense to espouse hateful ideas.
That said, his smaller, less in-your-face sculptures are better. In one, a hand-carved holywater stoup holds a replica of the artist’s breast, a reference to St. Agatha of Sicily, who had hers cut off while being tortured. In another, wooden white asparagus spears are tipped with carvings of St. John the Baptist. The Berlin-based artist creates these pieces in collaboration with a 13th-generation Barvarian craftsman. Drawing from various depictions of John and his pained face—allusive of the beheading that would end his life—Tak offers a clever play on the way asparagus is harvested. Taking things one step deeper, in many countries the feast day of John the Baptist traditionally coincides with the final asparagus harvest of the season. With Tak’s work, less certainly yields more.