8 Artists to Discover at Art Basel 2014
Part of the pleasure of an art fair is the discovery of new artists you would not have come across otherwise. The increasing international approach of the art world means the work of artists from Malaysia to Mexico can now be seen within the same context. Here are eight artists exhibiting in Basel that you may not have heard of.
This London-based collective makes work that fuses an interest in technology, architecture, and the physical world. Founded by three RCA graduates Eva Rucki, Conny Freyer, and Sebastien Noel in 2003, Troika creates installations and sculptures that juxtapose nature and human experience with the mechanical and artificial. The ambitious titles of their works, such as The Sum of All Possibilities or Calculating the Universe, betray the artists’ motivations, as well as their scientific and industrial methods.
Malaysian artist Shooshie Sulaiman is subtly emotional, performative, and often literary. Delving into the creation of identity and personal history, her work veers from collages made with photography, text, vintage currency, and drawn elements, to her “Emotional Baggage” performance, which entailed her dragging a valise of books around and spontaneously talking to strangers. Her work can also be deeply personal, such as one in which the earth from her father’s grave and his ash remains are incorporated into drawings.
Berlin-based Israeli artist Ariel Schlesinger makes conceptual work with a good dose of humor and intelligence. Everyday objects from candles to bikes are transformed into agents of poetry and creativity. He has made printers that print directly onto walls and joined objects like tape rolls or biscuits to echo twins or lovers. Many of his pieces are kinetic, resembling the romantic results of a mad inventor teetering on the edge of failure and success.
Wool is the central material used in American artist Anna Betbeze’s sculptural wall pieces. Brimming with color, she has bleached, stained, cut, burnt, and washed wool to push the material into trippy object-paintings. The results are abstract but the material and, notably, the act of looking and falling into the abyss of her images, feels very human. Look here for a raw reinvention of the whole concept of the canvas.
British artist Alice Channer is best known for wall pieces and sculptures that question the human body, decoration, consumerism, craft, and art history. For Basel Unlimited, she is making a new digital print on silk hanging piece. Her largely site-specific practice blurs the line between the inanimate and the living. Here objects—often inspired by or made from items of clothing—breathe.
Nigerian multimedia artist Nkanga is featured in “14 Rooms,” Hans Ulrich Obrist and Klaus Biesenbach’s installation-based museum-worthy exhibition, which is accompanying the fair in Basel. Her work has incorporated everything from performances with giant needles to drawings of small rooms to photographic self-portraits that fuse Nigerian wedding traditions, the work of Velázquez, and memory.
Swiss artists Taiyo Onorato and Nico Krebs are one of the most exciting duos working in photography today. Often the pair create objects or spaces for the purpose of being turned into a photograph, yet the results are weirder and less close to reality than in the work of someone like Thomas Demand. Uninterested in digital manipulation, they instead use photographic techniques to imbue objects with meaning or remove meaning entirely.
Mexican artist Pablo Rasgado strives to reconsider the concepts of and approach to painting, with work firmly embedded in the politics and concept-driven approach of institutional critique. Here the everyday becomes abstract, still, and full of history. He transplants urban walls into found paintings, presented alongside and equal to the walls of a museum—a refreshing reconsideration of the ruin.