Today on the shores of Indian Beach Park, the 12th edition of PULSE, Miami Beach kicked off. When approaching the two interfacing North and South tents, floating bubbles that seem to be retaining all the camp imagery of Miami from exploding, welcome you and set the tone for what awaits. These are Anne Spalter’s Miami Marbles, PULSE Miami Beach’s first PROJECTS Special commission. The artist used photographs from last year’s Miami art week that she digitally altered and distilled on these inflated vinyl and fabric spheres of varying sizes hovering around the fair. They can also be experienced virtually through the MiamiMarbles app, which features an augmented reality component.
Once you’re about to enter the fair an important choice presents itself to the viewer: Staring with the North Tent or South Tent? Our recommendation: if your wish is to buy original yet subtler pieces from established galleries head to the North tent first. If you want to be blown out of your comfort zone and brought to an avant-garde, head south.
We started with the North Tent, where we were immediately seduced by another PULSE Project, Ben Skinner’s No Future Plans, consisting of large 3 D letters surfaced with decorative marbling hung on the wall articulating “Let’s Pretend Tomorrow Night Never Happened,” hinting at reckless intent. In a similar vein we enjoyed 32 reasons why listicles are horrible shit by William Powhida at Gallery Poulsen that addressed our society’s obsessive desire to formulate everything in lists and the more general blinded drive towards brevity and shortness.
We liked the more discreet but smart selection at Patrick Heide Contemporary Art, notably five small canvases by Andy Harper evoking rosacea like natural symmetry, or Thomas Müller elegantly subtle mixed media works on paper. Taubert Contemporary presented two fascinating large pieces by Markus Linnenbrink, especially the large horizontal Bleach/ Quietdogbitehard, which seems to be traversed by veins of colorful intermixed fluids. There, Adrian Esparza’s serape and acrylic on wood panel had a calming quality reminiscent of dream catchers.
Champ—Zoë Buckman’s punching ovaries on neon—was a magnetic attraction that almost overshadowed Katsumi Hayakawa’s mixed-media mirrored compositions at the adjacent Gallery MoMo. Patrick Hughes’s oils on board construction intrigued and optically confused all the passing viewers at Flowers Gallery. We enjoyed his piece paying homage to Henri Matisse, Matisse Maters.
Carl Solway gallery had a great selection of new media sculptures from Alan Rath as well as conceptual works from Jean Pierre Hébert focused on defining algorithmic drawing processes. The end result is dazzling. Another great highlight is Hosfelt Gallery presenting a large sculpture of two melted scooter parts by Patricia Piccinini that appear to be enamored, entitled The Lovers. Don’t exit the tent without taking a look at Gordon Parks’ photography at Nicholas Metivier Gallery and Mickalene Thomas’s at Yancey Richardson Gallery.
After entering the South tent, head straight to see Esmeralda Kosmatopoulos’s work at first-time exhibitor Galerie Christophe Tailleur. The French-Greek artist is exploring the concept of presence and absence in the post-internet age, with its characteristic simultaneous yet intertwining physical and virtual planes of existence. This is done humorously though. For instance, the series “CLiMAX” depicting a love relationship between a cell-phone and its owner through “deep” Siri conversations, made us laugh nervously.
Tony Gum’s new work at Christopher Moller Gallery is also not to miss. Through a return to her home country, in the series “Tip of The Iceberg” the South African instagrammer recasts tradition using the visual language of new media platforms, infusing the new within the old, and creating compelling dialogues. In the series “Free Da Gum” she pays homage to the liberating female figure that is Frida Kahlo in the at times misogynistic art world. In both series, the aesthetic result is mesmerizing.