Headlines can be made of astronomical sales figures, luxury sponsors and exclusive parties, but the reason to attend art fairs is to see inspiring works we might not ever have the chance to see again. For this Miami Art Week—and Art Basel Miami Beach 2021 in particular—an overwhelming amount of art made its way onto the walls and floors of fairs and galleries in the Magic City. Further, highlights were abundant. The eight selections below possess a particular radiance that makes us yearn for their presence. Sculpture, painting and mixed media are represented, as is an array of artists.
Elizabeth Glaessner “Blue Recluse”
Brooklyn-based fine artist Elizabeth Glaessner exhibited her large-scale figurative work “Blue Recluse” (2021) with PPOW Gallery. The mesmerizing piece was produced from water-dispersed pigments with binders and oil, on canvas.
Ja’Tovia Gary “Citational Ethics (Toni Morrison, 1987)”
Composed of metal, neon and acrylic, Brooklyn-based artist and filmmaker Ja’Tovia Gary‘s “Citational Ethics (Toni Morrison, 1987)” (2021) was a beacon glowing forth from the Paula Cooper Gallery booth. The sculpture, which mimics a roadside sign, incorporates a quote from one of acclaimed novelist Morrison’s literary masterpieces, Beloved.
Raffi Kalenderian “Joe Barber”
Presented by Vielmetter Los Angeles, LA-based figurative painter Raffi Kalenderian‘s “Joe Barber” (2021) mesmerizes through perspective, pattern, texture and color. It’s a vibrant oil-on-linen painting.
June Clark “Harlem Quilt”
Originally debuting within The Studio Museum in Harlem, Toronto-based artist June Clark‘s “Harlem Quilt” (1997) graced the walls of Art Basel Miami Beach this year at Daniel Faria Gallery‘s booth in the Survey Section. For the work, Clark photo-transferred images she captured in Harlem onto swatches of various fabrics that she bought from a Harlem Salvation Army. These colorful, multi-textured strips are unified by a string of lights.
Elias Sime “TIGHTROPE:ECHO!?”
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia-born Elias Sime transforms reclaimed materials into intricately woven or layered works. With “TIGHTROPE:ECHO!?” (2021), presented by James Cohan Gallery, the artist assembles reclaimed electrical elements atop a panel, with one megaphone finalizing the vision.
Grayson Perry “Morris, Gainsborough, Turner, Riley”
A tapestry unlike any other, “Morris, Gainsborough, Turner, Riley” (2021) by beloved English contemporary artist Grayson Perry, was draped in front of Victoria Miro‘s booth. The work, produced in a numbered and signed edition of 10, masks a figurative portrayal with layers of patterned color. Within, there’s an exploration of class and social identity, gender constructs and perhaps even sexual orientation—all of which are frequent themes through the artist’s work.
Jules de Balincourt “Blowhards and Blowbacks”
With Pace Gallery, French-born, Brooklyn-based contemporary artist Jules de Balincourt exhibited “Blowhards and Blowbacks” (2021)—an exquisite, colorfully considered oil and oil stick on panel painting of a forest in the midst of a gale. Its palette and the movement it conveys give it meaning that only de Balincourt could impart. Pace also presented a profound mixed-reality work by Studio Drift, which involved a glowing physical installation and an augmented enhancement visible through an iPad and sold as an NFT.
William Cordova “spontaneous expression of quotidian resistance”
Partly composed of gold leaf on paper, Lima-born William Cordova‘s shimmering “spontaneous expression of quotidian resistance” (2021) is a large-scale mixed-media collage. Shown by Sikkema Jenkins & Co, the work investigates a central theme to Cordova’s catalog: a sense of displacement amid a multitude of cultural identities and influences.
Images by David Graver, including hero image detail shot of William Cordova’s “spontaneous expression of quotidian resistance” (2021)