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CULTURE

Miami Art Week 2016: Masked + Distorted Faces

CULTURE

Miami Art Week 2016: Masked + Distorted Faces

Conveying the essence of the human form amidst obstruction

by David Graver
on 12 December 2016

The human form has manifested in art since creativity's earliest days. Further, many of the most iconic works across time convey figures and faces—be it within sculptural realism or avant-garde poeticism. As expected, all of the fairs we attended during Miami Art Week contained pieces depicting people and their visage. This year, however, a substantial amount of work contained masked or distorted forms. A recognizable figure, in some ways, anchors the piece but through material choice or artistic deviations, there is an obstruction. The seven works below highlight the diversity of distortion we witnessed, all while managing to inspire new ways to intuit the presence of an "other" in the art.

WU Jian'an's "Mountain Stands for Autumn" (2016) + "Mountain Stands for Spring" (2016)

Each with a stunning depiction of two people in profile, Chinese artist WU Jian'an's "Mountain Stands for Autumn" (2016) + "Mountain Stands for Spring" (2016) are defined by their mixed media nuance. Composed of laser-cut paper and punctuated by vibrant water colors, each figure contains small characterizations—including other faces, creatures, and curious flora and fauna. Seen at Beijing's Beautiful Asset Art Project booth, these two works were Pulse Contemporary Art Fair standouts.

Raúl de Nieves' Various Works

Dedicated solely to emerging galleries and artists, NADA Art Fair played host to a dynamic installation by sculptor, performer and painter Raúl de Nieves. The entire NYC-based Company Gallery booth was focused on the multi-talented maker and therein a dazzling mannequin-like sculpture stood masked in the center, whip in hand. The mixed media work features stunning textiles and ostentatious patterning, signatures of the artist who will also make his debut at the 2017 Whitney Biennale this year.

Roberto Lazzarini's "M60" (2016) + "M72-2" (2016)

In many ways an optical illusion, Robert Lazzarini's Sharon Tate-inspired acrylic on canvas works both conceal and convey the actress with a stark dizziness. Seen at SOCO Gallery's install during Untitled, Art, the two paintings are part of a much larger series by the NYC-based artist. The darkness of Tate's untimely murder factors into the representation, but so does her beauty.

Carlo Fantin's "Oldman" (2016)

SF-based artist Carlo Fantin's paper work "Oldman" (2016) distorts the human face by way of its dimensions. They layering of his source material both creates and confounds one's perception of the figure within. Seen at 7th annual Bombay Sapphire Artisan Series atop the iconic 1111 Lincoln parking garage (designed by Herzog + de Meuron) and shown in detail here, tremendous value comes from the sculptural essence of this work.

Becky Kolsrud's "Eyes With Security Gate" (2016)

A the name implies, it's all about the eyes in Becky Kolsrud's "Eyes With Security Gate" (2016). This oil-on-canvas piece conveys the human spirit by way of numerous orbs, hidden behind one another and further set back behind a red chain-like fence. NYC's JTT Gallery presented the piece during Art Basel Miami Beach. The artist has a few more pieces in this series.

Tony Oursler's "Za(Gray)" (2016)

Another Art Basel Miami Beach work, "Za(Gray)" (2016) by American multi-media artist Tony Oursler takes the masked concept to a new level. A video of a human male face plays behind a Darth Vader-esque aluminum frame (which has been painted and given a resin application). Viewed at Galerie Hans Mayer, the engaging piece calls into the question the role of a frame and its impact on the artwork—here, with it all being one and the same.

Lene Kilde's "Untitled" (NA)

A sculpture of steel, concrete and wire, Lene Kilde's untitled piece at Galleri Ramfjord during this year's Scope Art Show implied a whole human form through only hands (and feet, not seen), a microphone and the wire than connects it all. It's the absence of form that delivers the strongest impact as one's imagination fills in the blanks to complete either the sculpture or its message.

Joyce Pensato's "Texas Batman" hero image by David Graver, Robert Lazzarini image courtesy of SOCO Gallery, all other images by Cool Hunting

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