Going for the 4th year at the Armory Show, one searches too hard for groundbreaking art that we never noticed the LCD. Not the Least Common Denominator but rather the Leading Current Direction. This year for 2015, we decided not to isolate pieces from galleries as the key items but instead have observed the wave of where art is going this year. We are an art publication and therefore, we’d like to present our opinion of what we think will happen this year in art.
Going around at the Contemporary side of the fair, there are three things that jutted out as the obvious clear indicators of what is going to prevail this year. Subtlety. Materiality. Texture.
Subtlety came in the very pared down aesthetics, almost minimalist and tonal value of the artworks. Form was left unencumbered, handiwork was highlighted over structural manipulations, the propensity to refer to organic forms or nature, and the tones were quieter at most of the gallery booths. There were doses of color but they either crept in, a splash here, an accent there and it fell into the more richer Pantone color value. Anything fluorescent or day-glo colored hues seemed dated and not of the moment. Technique and treatment got center stage as the extant tricks of years past have lost their hold. There seemed to be a resurgence of the minimalist ideals but if observed closely the all cream, indigo purple or even graphite had subtle workmanship embedded to create the overall picture. The quiet power to astound and enthrall dominated while pieces stating the obvious in overt manners have become archaic.
Materiality is key this year. Works on paper went beyond just drawing or surface rendering. Paper itself became the star as it showed up in massive pieces as being handmade, put together as installation, piled on top of each other, layered, lattice-work, folded, collage, and hand molded. Metals are burnished to high gloss brilliance. Reflective glass sparkled. Acrylic squares cascading like scales. Fabric took on structure. Wood was left untreated to expose the grain as nuanced flourishes to the art. Fiber or straw were integrated and mixed with stone for a dose of the organic. Whatever the material used, this was highlighted and given precedence rather than camouflaging it. This bold presentation may have laid bare the material but the quality is high. Since the artwork is dependent on focusing of what it’s made of then it shouldn’t stray far from the chief characteristic of the material used.
Texture was more pronounced at this year’s fair. Etched and scratched enhanced Gesso covered panels that hid vibrant lines underneath. Crumpled and distressed surfaces made artwork poignantly beautiful. Grazing or pulled brushstrokes hit the sweet spot to confectioner’s icing on pieces. Tactile surfaces across the regions of art in various media begged to be touched. The sumptuous and layered features had given it license to thrill the senses.
The coastal difference was also apparent. On the East Coast the subdued and quieter neutral tone was the heir apparent, while on the West Coast the color story remained vibrant. Always at odds and either sharply contrasting, the separate coasts still alluded to materiality and texture even if the color stories were different. It definitely pointed to deference in the purity and essential integrity of the work.
Does this mean that the artworks this year were timid and boring? If you are stimulated by sheer manipulated orchestrations then maybe you’ll find it a yawn. However, the subtle and inherent development of the artworks this year forced the onlookers to move in closer and observe shrewdly for themselves the quieter power of thoughtfully made art.
2015 poses to be a year of quiet power and where material is king. Subtlety. Materiality. Texture. Do less flaunting and be the silent but deadly type, well, that’s guaranteed to kill every time.
Article by: Oscar A. Laluyan
Armory 2015 photography by: Olya Turcihin