The Hamptons have always been an inspiring place to create art – a respite from the city for artists including Jackson Pollock and Lee Krasner, as well as Andy Warhol, Robert Motherwell and the DeKooning’s – and now, with events like “Art Southampton,” expanding into its fifth season, it’s also a great place to see and buy the work of established and emerging artists. In the summer months, as the city scene quiets down, the Hamptons actually heat up – there were no less than three art fairs to choose from in July with Art Southampton clearly the largest and most high-end of the Hamptons fairs.
On opening night, as the sun set across the beautiful Nova’s Ark grounds, the “Art Southampton” tent was all aglow as VIP’s made their way across the grassy fields. There were a fair share of celebrities – for example, Brooke Shields made her curatorial debut. Along with New York Academy of Art’s President David Kratz, Shields co-curated an exhibition – “Call of the Wild.” Oscar award winning actor Adrien Brody had his own showing of paintings entitled “Hooked,” and Kevin O’Leary, host of the popular TV show “Shark Tank” presented an exhibition of his photography “Irreconcilable Images.” Funds raised from these shows went to charities including the Perry J. Cohen Foundation, Parrish Art Museum and the Southampton Hospital. The fair is organized by Nicholas Korniloff, the founder of leading modern and contemporary shows including: Art Southampton, Art New York, and Art Miami.
It was a stylish and lively party, but as with most crowded openings, you almost always have to come back to see the art. And, with over 70 national and international galleries set up there for weekend, there was a lot to see. Nevertheless, included here are a few highlights, that I liked, that offer a bit of the flavor of the fair.
The aforementioned exhibit by Adrien Brody was actually great. Turns out Brody is the real deal – his work was also well received when it showed in May at Art New York. I liked it, even before I saw who it was by. The paintings and sculptures are bold and clever and are evidence of Brody’s talent as a visual artist in addition to his sensibilities on screen. The colorful eye-catching fish and other imagery are striking to look at, but also have meaning – a visual way of addressing consumerism and the need to care for our planet.
Colombian-born, Miami based Frederico Uribe also connects with nature. He likes to juxtapose material and meaning in his work, forming creative and ironic combinations. For example, the animal sculptures at the Fair this year are made of bullets – whimsical characters constructed of the very things made to destroy them. Like his other works, they are exquisitely crafted. They are beautiful and fun and have a nice liveliness about them.
Speaking of fun, there was some amusing Street Art and Pop Art pieces. Contessa Gallery of Ohio displayed the work of Mr. Brainwash. As many know, the relationship between French-born, Los Angeles-based street artist Thierry Guetta, aka Mr. Brainwash and street artist Banksy has been the source of speculation since the 2010 film “Exit through the Gift Shop” in which Guetta, camcorder in hand, documented street artists for several years. Some claim that he is either part of a Banksy prank or may in fact be the artist himself – both rumors however have been denied. Still, the connection is there, and the art is engaging and fun to look at.
Rooted in Harlem, LA-based artist Knowledge Bennett, at Galerie Virginie Barrou Planquart, Paris, added a lot of fun and funk with a selection from his series “Cojones.” Riffing a bit on Warhol, he presented big, bright, larger than life images of well-known figures such as Tupac, Basquiat, Beyonce, Biggie, JFK, Sinatra, and other influential names in history grabbing their balls. But unlike Warhol, who celebrated celebrity for celebrity sake – these represent brash forms of defiance and confidence. They are really cool, and getting a lot of attention from enthusiastic collectors and fans.
De Re Gallery, from Los Angeles, had an eye catching show of Brian Bowen Smith photos. The commercial turned fine art photographer presented gorgeous and mysterious nudes from his “White series.”
Another Paris-based gallery – Galerie Mark Hachem had two notable artists. The first, the sublime mixed media, wood paintings on canvas by Son Seock convey peace and tranquility all the while changing depending on the observer’s point of view. Second was self-taught, German-born artist Isabell Beyel. Her work is fascinating and powerful, and kind of edgy. She offered large scale, dark haired female faces, which upon closer inspection are made of mostly found materials. Admittedly, she had me at the wine corks embedded behind the plexi-frame on which the details of the face were painted.
In addition to the art, there were a series of events and talks throughout the “Art Southampton” weekend on topics such as: artists of the Hamptons, the art market, art of the 1980’s, protecting your art collection, and photorealism – to name a few.
Art Southampton Pavilion | Nova’s Ark Project, 60 Millstone Road, Bridgehampton, NY
July 7-11, 2016
FOR MORE INFORMATION: www.art-southampton.com