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Online Highlights from Art Basel 2020

Ten groundbreaking artworks from what would have been the fair’s Swiss edition

The centerpiece of the annual art fair circuit, Switzerland’s Art Basel celebrates its 50th anniversary with their latest edition, now accessible to all who register online. Of course, all the work this year is presented within Online Viewing Rooms, where each participating gallery hosts 15 works. As expected, some pieces offer unfathomable amounts of inspiration—even though they’re set behind computer screens. We’ve selected 10 highlights, drawn from the 282 galleries, that represent the breadth and depth of the artistry, and include sculpture, painting and photography.

Lynette Yiadom-Boakye’s “Sister to a Solstice” (2018)

Shown through Jack Shainman Gallery (and already sold), British painter Lynette Yiadom-Boakye’s stunning “Sister to a Solstice” (2018) depicts three women in an intimate but celebratory moment. This oil-on-linen work emphasizes the connection between the figures through the body language of its meticulously staged figurative subjects.

Genevieve Gaignard’s “The Line Up (Grey)” (2017)

Genevieve Gaignard’s chromogenic print “The Line Up (Grey)” (2017) achieves an intense connection between the woman who is its subject and the viewer. The photograph, presented within Vielmetter Los Angeles’ booth, which celebrates their 20th anniversary as a gallery, represents only one facet of the type of work Gaignard produces.

Toyin Ojih Odutola’s “A Parting Gift; Hers and Hers, Only” (2019)

Another from Jack Shainman Gallery, American-Nigerian visual artist Toyin Ojih Odutola’s “A Parting Gift; Hers and Hers, Only” (2019) highlights two figures engaged in a passionate kiss—rendered in nuanced grayscale by way of chalk and charcoal on board. The work hails from her series that “imagines the archaeological discovery of a repository of black shale sheets depicting scenes from a lost civilization in the Jos Plateau region of Nigeria,” according to the gallery.

Kerry James Marshall’s “Untitled (Blot)” (2015)

An acrylic work on PVC, Kerry James Marshall’s “Untitled (Blot)” (2015) hails from his acclaimed Blots series, wherein the artist “utilizes the language of abstraction to suggest alternative ways in which Black experiences are formally manifested in painting.” These abstract works are a departure from his more familiar figurative imagery, but carry the same captivating vibrance. David Zwirner presented the work.

Wangechi Mutu’s “The Claw” (2018)

Assembled from wood, cow horns, paper pulp, acrylic, glass beads, and more, Kenyan-American artist Wangechi Mutu’s “The Claw” (2018) incorporates material found in the dirt around her studio. Presented by Gladstone Gallery, the mesmerizing, metaphoric piece references the sense of uprooting and displacement the artist felt in moving from Nairobi to NYC.

Sonia Gomes’ “Colméia” (2005)

72-year-old Brazilian artist Sonia Gomes’ “Colméia” (2005), shown by Mendes Wood DM gallery, utilizes fabrics, laces and various bindings to build a multi-dimensional sculpture that hints at the person missing from within it. This work in particular aims to celebrate the artist’s Black heritage.

Derrick Adams’ “Neil deGrasse Tyson” (2019)

From the New Icons series of acclaimed American visual artist Derrick Adams, the “Neil deGrasse Tyson” (2019) work features two large oil paint emoji that come together to represent the identity of its title subject matter. Presented by Luxembourg and Dayan, the work was completed by hand after a process through an adapted CNC milling machine.

Sanam Khatibi’s “Seymour” (2020)

Born in Tehran, Belgian artist Sanam Khatibi works from Brussels on a repertoire that includes sculptures and tapestries. With “Seymour” (2020), an oil-on-panel landscape painting shown by NYC’s PPOW gallery, she presents a moment of contemplation. The setting requires close attention and captivates with its mystery.

Min Yoon’s “<Picture 13>” (2019)

Presented by Lars Friedrich gallery, South Korean artist Min Yoon’s oil on linen painting “<Picture 13>” (2019), with merino wool, aims to examine “the small shifts between different cultures of identification. The way they interweave mystical with capitalist rituals can be understood as a pragmatic evaluation of the present.” There’s a muted beauty to the work—as well as others in the series.

Jeffrey Gibson’s “I Gotta Get Ahold of Myself” (2020)

Jeffrey Gibson’s acrylic on canvas “I Gotta Get Ahold of Myself” (2020) incorporates beads and “artificial sinew,” set into its wooden frame. The colorful, patterned work—presented by Sikkema Jenkins & Co—channels the artist’s mission to “investigate issues of race, sexuality, religion, and gender—a reflection of his own layered identity,” according to the gallery. In their statement, they continue that “Gibson’s work is a vibrant call for queer and Indigenous empowerment.”

Hero image of “Puerto Rican Day Parade II” (1998) by Martin Wong, courtesy of PPOW


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