Art Basel: Other Worlds

A selection of mind-bending, multimedia works from Switzerland's expansive art show

While several works at this year’s Art Basel touched upon the animalistic side of humanity, another parallel looked to the future with otherworldly and scientifically driven design. From a Nouveau Realism throwback to forward-thinking student work, there were numerous sculptures, paintings and more to stimulate the mind’s analytical side.


In studying experience design at Stockholm’s renowned Konstfack University, Farvash Razavi explores the possibilities of blending science and design. By working closely with scientists, Razavi’s work holds a fragile, if not sterile feel, lending it an aesthetic that blurs sculpture with science experiment. In her “Scale of Existence”, at Design Miami/Basel, suspended, beaker-like globes encircle meticulously detailed miniature circuit boards like a nucleus within a cell, reflecting the “invisible, macro-level” of creation.


Often described as “Outsider Art”, Chris Hipkiss‘ intricate drawings of elaborate scenarios immediately draw in the eye and threaten not to let go. Heightened with striking red accents, these mostly black-and-white works seem to center around an imposing subject engulfed in repeating characters and structures. Presented by Galerie Susanne Zander, Hipkiss’ “Fucking Plasma Sun Hater” and “Forget The Sun” present a menacing landscape dominated by whirling barbs and sharp slogans.


Resembling an alien fungi and constructed entirely of wood, Tony Cragg‘s “Round The Block” measures nearly seven by eight feet in size. The smooth surface of the massive sculpture leads the eye through the stratified structure of the individual wood plains, allowing one to look past the knots and imperfections to comprehend the piece as a whole. The way the undulations of the brilliantly polished wood both absorb and reflect light is the truly transforming characteristic of this beautiful contemporary sculpture. Keep an eye on Galerie Hans Meyer for more from Cragg.


While California-born artist Doug Aitken is best known for his experience in photography, sculpture, film and sound installations, his paint series “To Give It All Away” offers insight into his endless artistic talent. The 24 framed watercolor on paper works achieve incredible depth while managing a bizarre balance between chaotic and calm with cooling color choices and a large-scale presentation. By presenting the works in a grid, Aitken gives order to his cubist-inspired paintings while inviting the eye to explore the varied landscapes.


Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson is best known for his elemental use of basic materials to enhance his large-scale sculptures and installations. For Basel he presented “Your Two-Tone Dawn Light”, a hanging sculpture made of colored glass and LED lights encased in an aluminum and steel skeleton. The transfixing orb of burnt oranges and deep blues conjures images of science fiction movies and early ’70s psychedelic art. See NYC’s Tanya Bonakdar Gallery for more from Eliasson.


“Open Universe”, Ricci Albenda‘s suspended wire sculpture on view at Andrew Kreps Gallery, takes a three-dimensional approach to his signature optical illusion installation paintings. The sculpture presents an imaginary space seen through a fish-eye lens, bending the framework—and one’s mind. The minimalist material approach is particularly intriguing, showing how a simple take on a complex idea often holds the strongest impact.


Destined to be one of the shortest art movements in history from the very moment of its inception, the Nouveau Réalisme movement began in 1960 and fell apart shortly after. Galerie Georges-Philippe & Nathalie Vallois pays tribute to two of the 13 artists attributed to the movement with an exhibition of works by Ultra-Lettrists Jacques Villaglé and Raymond Hains. Focused on the symbolic use of letters and decolletage to make statements on capitalism, the duo’s distinct take on poster art is eternally relevant.

Images by Josh Rubin