Denzil Forrester, Booth F25
Tom Friedman, M16
For Art Basel Miami Beach 2019, Stephen Friedman Gallery (Booth F25) presents a selection of artists including Juan Araujo, Tonico Lemos Auad, Jonathan Baldock, Andreas Eriksson, Denzil Forrester, Tom Friedman, Channing Hansen, Jim Hodges, Ged Quinn, Deborah Roberts, Yinka Shonibare CBE, Kehinde Wiley and Luiz Zerbini.
Venezuelan artist Juan Araujo explores the tangible remnants of modernism in Western culture and art history. On view is a new series of photorealistic paintings that were inspired by visits to the Henry Moore Foundation in Perry Green, Hertfordshire and the Barbican Centre, London in early 2018. Araujo recently had a solo exhibition at PEER, London.
Using flailing limbs and suggestive facial movements, surreal figures play out pagan forms of self-expression in British artist Jonathan Baldock's handstitched wall hangings. This presentation follows Baldock's show at Camden Arts Centre, London earlier this year and precedes a solo exhibition at Bluecoat, Liverpool in March 2020 and Kunsthall Stavanger in June 2020.
A new series of paintings by Swedish artist Andreas Eriksson highlights the artist's lifelong engagement with nature. Working immersed in the Swedish countryside, Eriksson's strength lies in his ability to elicit a palpable sense of place. Eriksson will have a solo exhibition of new tapestries at Stephen Friedman Gallery in Spring 2020.
A new sculpture, ‘Still' by American artist Jim Hodges highlights the artist's symbolic use of spider webs, here combined with an aged tree stump. Hodges' practice is characterised by his ability to infuse seemingly small aspects of life with intense energy and emotion. Earlier this year, a monumental tree stump cast in bronze, ‘Unearthed', was installed at Grace Cathedral, San Francisco.
Burnt Village With Northern Lights' is a monumental romantic landscape painted by British artist Ged Quinn. Rendered in fluid layers of oil on linen, the work reflects the perspective of an isolated wanderer exhausted by the extremes of nature. Quinn currently has a solo exhibition of new works at Stephen Friedman Gallery until the end of January 2020.
Reflecting the challenges encountered by young black children as they build their identity, African-American artist Deborah Roberts shows one of her largest works on paper to date. The artist states: "The girls in my work are at the age when they're forming their sense of self, figuring out who they are in the world and the odds that are stacked up against them." Roberts will have a major solo exhibition at The Contemporary Austin, in September 2020.
Another highlight includes a graceful new classical sculpture by British-Nigerian artist Yinka Shonibare CBE. Questioning the meaning of cultural and national identity, ‘Wounded Amazon (after Sosikles)' sees Shonibare reimagine an Amazonian woman, a mythical female warrior famed for her courage and pride. She is transformed by the artist's signature Dutch wax batik patterns, which are hand-painted directly onto the surface of the sculpture. Shonibare will have a major solo exhibition at Museum der Moderne, Salzburg in Summer 2020.
A female portrait by African-American artist Kehinde Wiley which featured prominently in the artist's recent cover shoot for Vanity Fair is also on view. Continuing the artist's ongoing exploration of race, identity and gender, Wiley depicts the female warrior with medieval armour as if to shield her from the violence inflicted against the black body. The presentation coincides with Wiley's monumental installation ‘Rumors of War' in Times Square, New York and precedes a solo exhibition at William Morris Gallery, London opening in February 2020.
The gallery features dynamic and kaleidoscopic paintings by Brazilian artist Luiz Zerbini. These richly coloured works draw on visual references from the artist's surroundings in Rio de Janeiro as well as art history and pop culture. In addition, Zerbini takes inspiration from the iconic mosaic pavements and façades of modernist tower blocks in Brazilian cities, using the structure of the grid to consider the relationship between colour, light and movement. His work is currently on view in ‘Nous les arbres' at Fondation Cartier, Paris.
The vibrant, colourful works of British-Grenadian artist Denzil Forrester (b. 1956) immortalise the dynamic energy of the London reggae and dub nightclub scene during the 1980s and 1990s. Here a selection of significant works from this period are brought together to explore the translation between painting and drawing in his practice.
Forrester's work began in the nightclubs of East London where the artist would take his sketchbook and draw in situ before developing the larger painterly compositions in the studio the next day. Pulsating with rhythm, the artist's expressive depictions of clubs capture crowds moving in unison with the beat of the music and encircled by totemic sound systems. Forrester explains: "I just wanted to draw movement, action and expression. I was interested in the energy of the crowd, particular dance movements and what the clubbers wore. In these clubs, city life is recreated in essence: sounds, lights, police sirens, bodies pushing and swaying in a smoke-filled room."
Each drawing is dictated by the length of the record, roughly four minutes long, with the next sketch beginning in sync with the changing soundtrack. Forrester transposes the freneticism of these drawings in his paintings by using angular and hurried brush strokes to emulate the rhythm of the music that reverberated throughout his body.
Denzil Forrester will have a major solo exhibition at Nottingham Contemporary in February 2020 which will tour to Spike Island, Bristol in May 2020.
For the first edition of Meridians, the gallery presents a large-scale installation by American artist Tom Friedman titled ‘Cocktail Party'. Described by the artist as a "living cartoon" and intended to mirror the art world, the work plays on themes of voyeurism while riffing on pop culture, art history and self-portraiture. The work presents an animated group of twenty-six life-size figures in a wild array of outfits and hairstyles all enjoying a lively party. Never before exhibited in the United States, it is one of the artist's most accomplished works to date.
Despite their obvious caricature, each character has an individual quality to which we are able to relate. A man and a woman are caught mid-embrace, an ageing waiter serves canapés, a cigarette is about to be lit, a phone is prepped for a snapshot. Painstakingly hand-carved from individual blocks of Styrofoam, Friedman built up each figure with clay before painting them and imbuing each partygoer with a distinct personality.
Friedman's meticulous eye for detail heightens the sense of pseudo-reality in the work. Details of the figures' clothing and accessories also give a subtle nod to those familiar with Friedman's practice - a woman wearing an emerald broach fashioned out of toothpicks, a young man's snowflake pendant and a woman holding a block of Styrofoam in lieu of a clutch bag. Friedman demonstrates, as New York Times critic Roberta Smith has written, "unusual clarity in the interaction of materials and thought. In fact, he connects the two." ‘Cocktail Party' blurs reality and hyper-reality as Friedman invites members of the art world he depicts to become live players within the action.
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Image: Jonathan Baldock, 'Untitled', 2019. Hessian, felt, silk thread, polymer, semi precious stone, glass, 237 x 318 x 13cm (93 1/4 x 125 1/4 x 5 1/8in).