This year’s PULSE Miami Beach Art Fair, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary in Miami, has rounded out its leadership with an all-female team lead by gallerist and curator, Helen Toomer. Toomer’s strategy for breathing new life into the young fair, which focuses exclusively on contemporary art, has been to “bring in new galleries, new blood, new programming, new events, and cultivate a growing new community within the arts.” This emphasis on the “new” has inspired Toomer to integrate the two formerly separate sections, PULSE galleries—the main floor of more established galleries—and the Impulse section—which features young, solo projects—and continue the series of roundtables the fair kicked off in New York, one of which will focus on female artists. Given that some of the more polarizing debates around annual art fairs, which forecast trends and emerging talent in the contemporary art world, have been the lack of artists of color and women artists, it was refreshing to see a different tone being set at PULSE. Exhibiting artists at PULSE include established figures, like Julia Mangold and Ann Hamilton, and a roster of emerging female talent who are bringing explosive abstract painting, camera-less photography, an exploration of the interface between the manufactured and the natural world, and much more to this year’s fair. Here are five of them.
Right in line with the Wynwood neighborhood’s blocks of graffiti are Maya Hayuk’s massive, brightly patterned murals. Although Brooklyn-based, this globetrotting muralist has covered walls in Mumbai, Miami, and London with her vivid abstractions, which combine fragmented geometry, a neon fluorescent palette, and kaleidoscopic patterns. Taking aesthetic and compositional cues from traditional Ukrainian crafts to mandalas, Hayuk had her first solo show at the Hammer Museum in 2013 where she showcased an impressive site-specific mural installation.
2. Ramona Rosales at De Soto Gallery
Mostly known for her pop-inspired celebrity portraits of famous faces like Tina Fey and Diplo, in her recent series “Outside the Lines,” fashion photographer Ramona Rosales continues her vibrant kitsch aesthetic in a series of suspenseful and humorous photographs of women cropped just below the knee. Presented alongside the rainbow stockinged legs and stilettos are various chaotic tableaux—including a smashed dozen eggs or a exploded piñata—some of which recall the domestic chaos of Rosales’s youth.
German-born artist Mona Ardeleanu (represented by the female-owned, Berlin-based Galerie Wagner + Partner) makes intricately rendered oil paintings that depict fantastic surreal objects suspended in fields of color. Her almost creature-like objects often incorporate patterns from textiles or fur-like surfaces, and are interspersed here and there with images of ropes and knots. Look into one of Ardeleanu’s detailed creations long enough and you’ll start to see the uncanny appeal of trying to decode her paintings, which are both fantastic and inscrutable.
Spanish photographer Cristina De Middel first gained attention with her now highly sought after 2012 series of surrealistic color photographs, drawings, and sculptures, titled “The Afronauts.” Primarily known for her photojournalism, De Middel departed from her documentary style to create a fictitious re-staging of the short-lived 1994 Zambian space program, featuring patterned space suits and an elephant cast as a space alien. In her more recent series “Poly-Spam,” De Middel continues to blur fact and fiction in a series of color tableaus that bring to life the imagined authors of spam emails the artist has received.
Alison Rossiter describes her camera-less photography as “drawing with light.” Rossiter recycles her extensive collection of decades-old expired photo paper into “found photograms” simply by reprinting them. In processing the 1000 parcels of photo paper she’s amassed from every decade of the 20th century, Rossiter creates a type of timeline by using the resulting compositions, the photo paper’s age, and any coinciding world events to visualize the passing of time. The resulting black-and-white compositions she “coaxes out of these long forgotten papers” simplify photography to its essentials: a light-reactive material, emulsion, and light.