Miami Art Week 2016: Creature Keepers

Animated sculptures that kept us on our toes at the fairs this year

Ceramic or bronze, old or new, subliminal or overt, this year’s Miami Art Week ushered in a range of sculptures which gave off delightfully animated appearances. Visiting the plethora of fairs that are part of the inspiring, week-long event, we saw no shortage of exemplary works, each of which has charisma and charm of its own. However, below are nine artists culled from across the shows who stand out for creating whimsical works that are just a little bit creepy—in the best kind of way.

Katie Stout: “Girl Lamps” (2016)

Over at R & Company we expected to see the kings of sculptural creatures—the Haas Brothers—but we didn’t anticipate stumbling upon newcomer Katie Stout. The young, Brooklyn-based artist showed “Girl Lamps,” a set of unabashedly naked female figures taking shape as ceramic bedside lights. One seemed to carry the world on her shoulders while the other (pictured here) stands on her head with a cord running through her body (in a not-so-faint reminder of female empowerment). Seen at R & Company at Design Miami/.

Beate Kuhn: “Monster” (2010)

One of the last ceramic pieces produced by the late, celebrated German potter Beate Kuhn, “Monster” is the type of effortless sculpture that can only be created after decades of mastery. The simplicity of the individual shapes, the perfectly contrasted colors of glaze and the delicate balance of imagination and reality—is it a rhino?—make this piece so easy on the eyes, but curious enough to thoroughly draw you in. Seen at Jason Jacques Gallery at Design Miami/.

Bruce M Sherman: “Equi Lib Reeum” (2016)

NYC-based artist Bruce M Sherman caught our eye with his bright red stoneware sculpture, “Equi Lib Reeum,” which, with its totem-like stance, reminded us of an elementary school crossing guard commanding us to stop in our tracks. Seen at Nicelle Beauchene Gallery at NADA.

Cristina Tufiño: “Reliquary” (2016)

The smoothed-out porcelain sculptures by Puerto Rican artist and photographer Cristina Tufiño gave off a mysterious glowing appearance that was hard to ignore, but more unnerving were the objects staring back. The trio included a nose protruding from a giant nose, a Humpty Dumpty-like form with a belly button and a creepy hand coming out of a vase. Seen at Agustina Ferreya at NADA.

Joakim Ojanen: “What A Time To Be Alive :(” (2016)

Richard Heller’s booth was brimming with ceramic sculptures by Swedish artist Joakim Ojanen. From duck-billed adolescents sporting backpacks to endearing dogs in sneakers, each conflated character was as charming as the next. It comes as no surprise that Ojanen’s background is diverse: graffiti beginnings were followed by a degree in illustration and graphic design, which led to painting and working with clay. Seen at Richard Heller Gallery at Untitled Art.

Guðmundur Thoroddsen: “Troll”; “Spirit and Smoke”; “Nude Boy” (2016)

Shown alongside works on paper and paintings of the same nature were Icelandic artist Guðmundur Thoroddsen’s brute ceramic sculptures, which poetically explore the concept of contemporary masculinity. Seen at Asya Geisberg Gallery at Untitled Art.

Erwin Wurm: “Psycho” (2016)

Now a contemporary household name, Austrian artist Erwin Wurm popped up in smaller-than-usual form this year with his “Psycho” artworks, produced in 2010 using acrylic and pink paint. Like a sculptural performance, each awkward figure seems to be fighting his way out of a life-sized ballon. Seen at Lehmann Maupin at Art Basel.

Joan Miró: “Souvenir de la Tour Eiffel” (1977)

Stopping passerby in their tracks at bustling Art Basel wasn’t the latest Jeff Koons’ work (although his puppy float plopped on a ladder gained a lot of looks), but instead, that of Surrealist legend Joan Miró. Situated in a hallway outside Galerie Gmurzynska’s booth was one of his bronze sculptures, “Souvenir de la Tour Eiffel.” Conceived in 1977, when Miró was toward the end of his career, the work is at once creepy and elegant. Seen at Galerie Gmurzynska at Art Basel.

Atang Tshikare: “Le Bone Lebone”; “Maotwana Finyela (Small Infinite Footprints)” (2016)

The only thing wilder than South African artist Atang Tshikare’s multi-patterned outfits are his works of art. The Bloemfontein native started his creative output by doing graffiti and custom sneakers, but today his vision takes shape in large-scale, anthropomorphic creatures that are part furniture, part sculpture, but always stunning. Seen at Southern Guild at Design Miami/.

Images by Karen Day or courtesy of respective galleries