Born and raised in Los Angeles, and a 2004 graduate of UCLA’s BFA program, Raffi Kalenderian works from both life and photographs to create the oil-on-canvas paintings on view in Susanne Vielmetter Project’s booth. The artist is known for depicting his friends and acquaintances in intimate domestic scenes, and his work, Rochele, entangles us in the psychology of a young woman brought to life through the use of the artist’s delicate yet precise brushstrokes. Her averted gaze and detached demeanor leave the audience to interrogate the subject’s emotions and perhaps, most importantly, her relationship with the artist.
South African-born and UK-based artist Carla Busuttil makes her U.S. debut at this year’s fair. Her solo booth with London’s Josh Lilley features a number paintings whose curious subjects, while void of an identity and obscured by the artists use of bold brushstrokes, are derived from a combination of numerous photographic images. Busuttil’s unique use of text in The High Masters sets it apart from the other works on display by confronting historic and contemporary politics in both her native and home countries, and creating a narrative not immediately evident within the underlying imagery.
John Miserendino’s ALAC debut is a precursor to his highly anticipated solo show this spring at Louis B James Gallery in New York. After receiving much fanfare at NADA Miami 2014, Miserendino’s stone-and-dye works are headed to Los Angeles and are expected to make a splash at the fair. My personal favorite from this series is the stunning Untitled (Seeing Ruby’s Husband) (2014). The artist, who studied architecture in college and possesses an obvious command of natural materials, combines soft hues of color, which course through the stone’s veins while simultaneously bleeding and settling into the natural cracks of the material to create a beautiful and harmonious composition.
I was introduced to Zach Harris’s work this fall while viewing the exhibition “Death Ship: Tribute to H.C. Westermann” at The Pit in Los Angeles, and instantly fell in love. My faith in his solo showing at David Kordansky Gallery’s booth hinges on the masterful work veggie cloud. This intricate, wood-carved painting is rife with small but deliberate brushstrokes, lush patterns, and hints of abstract symbolism. With its meditative detail and subtle yet striking palette, this painting packs a punch and is definitely worth a close examination.
On view with Chicago’s Shane Campbell Gallery is White People Are The Future by William Pope.L, self-described as “The Friendliest Black Artist in America©” and arguably one of the most complicated. This recent work is a subtle departure from the artist’s “Skin Set Drawings” project (1997-ongoing), but continues his use of hand-drawn, darkly humorous text, to critique, challenge, and draw attention to social inequity. His intentional use of language presents an ironic take on identity politics and investigates the relationship between race and social value in America. Be on the lookout for his upcoming exhibition, opening this March at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. The show will feature large-scale installation, new performance, and site-specific sculpture by the Chicago-based artist.
On the heels of Matthias Merkel Hess’s exciting “takeover” of Artsy’s booth at FOG Design+Art, which closed last week in San Francisco, I’m thrilled to see his Igloo Mini Playmate Cooler up for grabs in Los Angeles. The L.A.-based ceramist has transformed this ordinary object (not unlike the KitchenAid Mixer I fell for at FOG) into an exquisite work of art. With its vibrant color and luscious glaze drippings, this delicious earthenware sculpture will surely be the perfect addition to any collector’s home.