It’s on the cutting edge as far as contemporary art fairs are concerned, so it’s no surprise that NADA is bursting at the seams with ultra-experimental art. Some artists play with radical materials (think eggs, soap bottles, urethane toast, and hypothetical commissions), while others tackle a range of difficult and twisted subjects. Here are ten of our weirdest favorites from the fair, sure to demand second and third looks, if not to find their way into your nightmares.
1. Richard Kern, Angela dbl, 2013: By the standards of Kern’s infamous nudes, this latest series is relatively tame. Nonetheless, his double-exposure portraits offer the artist’s eerily sexual version of x-ray vision.
2. Asher Penn, Untitled (Kimono Stand Swastika), 2011: Displayed in a manner inspired by HYPEBEAST, Penn’s objects and recurring symbols—in this case, an XL T-shirt printed with a swastika—are largely left to do all the talking and evoke their own associations.
3. Soshiro Matsubara, Purple fried eggs, 2013: Matsubara is no stranger to unusual materials and subject matter, but this acrylic-painted egg made with Tokyo-based experimental collective XYZ reaches a new level.
4. Karen Heagle, Three Vultures and a Deer Carcass, 2013: Heagle’s works explore themes of sexuality and mass consumption through parodies of 17th-century Dutch and Flemish genre and still life painting, particularly the moralizing thrust of memento mori and vanitas.
5. Francesco Vezzoli, Untitled (Study for an Homage to Giorgio de Chirico), 2012: Vezzoli is known to pay homage to his artistic forebears in unusual ways, nowhere more evident than in this (appropriately Surrealistic) collage that sets de Chirico’s head atop a classical equestrian sculpture.
6. Ryan McGinley, Marmoset (LSD), 2012: McGinley loves to pair idyllic nudes with animals, but there’s something particularly disturbing about the gaze of this tiny creature, perched atop a woman’s scarred lower half inscribed with a tattoo that reads “LSD”.
7. Cary Leibowitz/Candyass, So Funny/It Just Occurred To Me/I Haven’t Thought About Suicide In Weeks, 2013: Self-explanatory.
8. Steven Claydon, Untitled, 2004: Claydon is known to explore the associative power of objects and symbols—in this case, a magnified bat portrait accompanied by a pound symbol and a crescent moon.
9. Devin Troy Strother, a shark just ate my boo, 2013: Despite the childlike style of much of his work, Strother has been described as a “wickedly funny master of cut-and-paste collage” and a “sly spinner of side-splitting stories about such loaded subjects as blood, money, and sex—otherwise known as race, class and gender.”
May 4–8, 2018, Park Avenue Armory