View Mobile Site


show nav
View Desktop Site


Miami Art Week 2013: Color Chaos

Our highlight of work that utilizes the power of color to overturn structure

by David Graver in Culture on 12 December 2013


There are over 16 million noted colors and artists have long sought to capture several—if not most—of them. Even Pantone's GEO system is composed of 2,058 new solid colors. Options are limitless, combinations even more so. Across last week's art adventures in Miami, we crossed expressive uses of the spectrum that defied structure, and even redefined it.

Chinese artist Liu Wei's "Liberation No. 1" (2013) plays with the idea of structure, unifying geometric patterning but without rhyme or reason. This oil on canvas triptych—seen at the Rubell Family Collection—alludes to a cityscape in form, but the vibrancy of its color usage lends itself to something more. Perhaps there's a pink horizon, maybe there are buildings of black and blue and green—it doesn't matter as much as the moving, combatant colors.


If the name were not thought-provoking enough, Cameron Gray's “I Have A Feeling I Shall Go Mad. I Cannot Go On Longer In These Terrible Times. I Shan’t Recover This Time. I Hear Voices And Cannot Concentrate On My Work. I Have Fought Against It But Cannot Fight Any Longer…Naww, Fuck It, I’m Good” (2011/2013), an installation at Art Miami (presented by Mike Weiss Gallery) also happened to use color in an explosive manner. The installation featured 27 stacked monitors looping a digital animation—collage work of bright light and movement. The installation did not end there, as the site was scattered with rubbish, sculpture and even an immobile man—often sleeping—sat in a recliner, directed toward the screens. It was vast in scope, with every entropic detail bursting with color.


Angular shapes atop a tartan backdrop form Zhao Yao's "A Painting of Thought III-69" (2013). Also seen at the Rubell Family Collection, this painting features acrylic on found fabric. While it can be argued that it's deeply structured, that's more of an illusion—thanks to its shape-orientation, with the color functioning as more of a conflict-driving puzzle, lacking symmetry but leading to a search for a through-line to its usage.

miami-chaos-1.jpg miami-chaos-2.jpg

"Bouquet" (2013), a wall-mounted sculpture by Emil Lukas, is composed of thread pulled across painted wood and nails. The meticulously random rainbow blends color and begets a shape, or lack thereof, based on density. Colors blend, colors pop. At times, the lack of color at the thinning center draws the eye in, as the viewer seeks a strand to follow. Seen at Pulse Miami and presented by the Hosfelt Gallery, Lukas' work offers a clean example of color dictating form and ultimately the message.

MiamiChaos-4b.jpg MiamiChaos-4a.jpg

"Nilsson Schmilsson" (2013) debuted at this year's Pulse Miami, shown by Freight + Volume. The work, by artist Erik den Breejen, replicates a portrait of musician Harry Nilsson, visible from a distance, while up close, a multi-colored rendering of his song lyrics form the inner-workings. What appears to be a smattering, is actually all in service of the greater image.


The most chaotic of the artworks witnessed, a throwback piece at Art Miami, was Naomie Kremer's "This Much" (1993). Slashes, swipes and layers of pastel, acrylic and charcoal on paper overwhelm—it's a blitz of dabs and dots. And all of that mayhem yields a unified onslaught of a rainbow gone wrong. Shown thanks to Modernism Inc., viewers can feel the inspiration behind this piece and recognize that it must have inspired others.


While exploring Miami's magnificent Pérez Art Museum, we crossed the path of "Wake and Wonder" (2013), by Adrian Esparza. Once again, structure took a backseat to color, as forms were granted new dimension through stripes of developing hues. Also composed of nails, thread and serape, this wall-strung installation—in the AMERICANA: Formalizing Craft gallery room—was visually stimulating and expansive.

Additional reporting by Josh Rubin, Karen Day and Jonah Samson

"Liberation No. 1," "A Painting of Thought III-69" and "Bouquet" photos by Josh Rubin, “I Have A Feeling I Shall Go Mad. I Cannot Go On Longer In These Terrible Times. I Shan’t Recover This Time. I Hear Voices And Cannot Concentrate On My Work. I Have Fought Against It But Cannot Fight Any Longer…Naww, Fuck It, I’m Good” and "This Much" photos by David Graver, "Nilsson Schmilsson" and "Wake and Wonder" photos by Karen Day


Get Cool Hunting delivered to your inbox every weekday morning