The 11 Most Original Artworks at NADA, Basel’s Most Original Art Fair

Entering the Miami Convention Center during Art Basel is overwhelming, not only because of the number of artworks on display—although that alone is enough to make one’s head spin—but also because of the dollar signs attached to each piece. There must be billions of dollars worth of paint and pencil in the airplane-hangar–size venue. Meanwhile, over at NADA (the New Art Dealers Alliance), nestled up Collins Avenue in the Deauville hotel (an art deco piece of art in its own right), younger gallerists and more experimental artists helped contribute to Basel’s most mind-blowing wonderland of sculpture, collage, drawing, video, and painting. Here is a sampling of this year’s standout artists.

image Jean-Charles de Castelbajac’s The duchess de detourn, 2010. The fashion designer, also known as JC/DC, combined classic oil painting portraiture with the Louis Vuitton logo (in addition to the Botox, Nike, and L’Oreal emblems found on other works). La B.A.N.K. in Paris represents him.

image One of three prints from Christopher Russell’s Untitled Triptych, 2009. In this work, Russell manipulated a found photograph, which he enlarged and then scratched into, creating the silhouette on a man who’s been hanged in the forest. It’s at once so pretty and disturbing that it called to mind Kara Walker’s black silhouettes of the antebellum South. Luis de Jesus in Los Angeles represents him.

image Mario Wagner’s Isn’t this where we came in?, 2010. I don’t know much about Wagner, but his use of color and shape in the collages he creates—not to mention the ski masks in which he clothes his male figures—give the works an ominous, Roswell vibe. Pool Gallery in Berlin represents him.

image Debo EilersTwitterrific, 2010. There are three things I hated this year at Basel: the preponderance of urinals meant as ironic nods to Marcel Duchamps, the Warhol derivatives, and the pieces that didn’t just use new technology, but acknowledged its use. Despite that last rule, I love the work of Eilers, who incorporated into this mixed media Twitter homage Plexiglas, acrylic rod, vinyl, scrim vinyl print, acrylic spray paint, and cardboard. On Stellar Rays in New York represents him.

image I’m really mad at myself because I can’t recall who made this piece or what it’s called, but I found it in the booth for Take Ninagawa, a gallery in Tokyo. It’s obviously not a labor-intensive pencil drawing, but there’s something really simple and clever about it.

image Abigail ReynoldsUniversal Now: Piccadilly Circus, 1951/1973, 2008. The London-based artist cuts and folds disparate images to create collages that are puzzling and fresh. Ambach & Rice in Seattle represents her.

image Car Salesman from Luke Butler’s Enterprise series, 2010. The San Francisco-based painter approaches power and vulnerability using alpha TV characters (Captain Kirk or Starsky & Hutch, seen here), whom he renders in rich, vivid color. Silverman Gallery in San Francisco represents him.

image Genesis Breyer P-Orridge‘s Feeding the Fishes, 2010. An English musician and artist, P-Orridge gained notoriety when, in the ’90s, he underwent a series of gender reconstruction surgeries to look like his second wife, Lady Jane, who passed away in 2007. Invisible-Exports in New York represents P-Orridge.

image Bill AdamsUntitled, 2010. Using a ballpoint pen, watercolor, and colored pencil, Adams fantastical, surreal pieces are charming in a rough-around-the-edges way. KS Art in New York represents him.

image Leslie ShowsNitrogen Cycle/10 Reds, 2010. This large-scale collage was the first piece to really catch my eye at NADA, probably because it mimicked the apocalyptic high everyone at Basel felt after only a few days of partying at the festival. Jack Hanley in San Francisco represents her.

image Suzy Lake’s Co-Ed Magazine #5, 1973/1998. It’s a backhanded compliment, I suppose, to call someone the new Cindy Sherman, but in this case it’s meant in the most positive way. There’s something really jarring about her collage work here, in which she’s combined different stock from different eras to create an image that looks kind of seamless. Paul Petro Contemporary Art in Toronto represents her.

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