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Independent Projects Unveils New Art Fair Concept: A Show

By Martha Schwendener

The art fair has become a primary vehicle for viewing and selling art, but this doesn’t mean it’s a static form. Independent Projects, a hybrid art fair and exhibition installed in the former Dia Art Foundation space on West 22nd Street in Chelsea, is a welcome mutation. With 40 solo shows, it’s a fair this weekend, but on Monday, the gallerists’ tables will disappear, and docents (just as in museums) will arrive. Best of all for artists and students, the Independent is free.

Among the strong historical exhibitions on view is a project conceived by Yves Klein in the 1950s but unrealized until now. I won’t divulge the contents of his white box on a pedestal at the Dominique Lévy space, installed next to a small, signature IKB (International Klein Blue) painting of his. But the question heard most often around the fair is “Did you stick your hand inside the Yves Klein?”

Lesser-known but still alive and very present is David Medalla, a Filipino-born artist who has been kicking around various art worlds since the ’60s. You can talk to him at the Venus Over Manhattan space and see a remake of his “Cloud Canyons” from the ’60s, a sculpture made with large plastic tubes emitting slow cascades of tiny bubbles created with dishwashing liquid. (Someone like Primary Information, which reissues old artists’ books and publications, should reprint Mr. Medalla’s Signals, a journal he published from 1964 to 1966 and on view here.)

The performance and video pioneer Joan Jonas has an installation of giant tin cones and a vintage video — both recycled from earlier projects — at Gavin Brown. Gianfranco Baruchello, a staple of the Italian art scene and friend of Marcel Duchamp’s has a work that refers to Duchamp’s “Large Glass” on view at Massimo De Carlo.

Although a tad overexposed, Raymond Pettibon, at David Zwirner, and Mike Kelley, at Skarstedt, have solo presentations that are still pretty great. Mr. Pettibon has two walls of drawings, most new or created this week in the current space. Kelley’s felt banners from the mid-’80s, inspired by hippie-inflected church art, are good examples of his pitch-perfect baby-boomer ennui.

Ambitious sculptural installations include Yngve Holen’s arrangement of cool but curious objects — part industrial, part classical — at Galerie Neu, from Berlin. Virginia Overton’s installation of repurposed boards plays with the light coming through the windows at Mitchell-Innes & Nash. Liam Gillick’s video about the British Pop artist Richard Hamilton, installed in a mirrored nook at Maureen Paley, recalls Dan Graham’s video-and-mirror projects.

Haroon Mirza’s jolting sound installation at Lisson, which features electronic feedback tones, and Nicolas Deshayes’ slick but menacing pictures of fashionable, cutoff bodies at Jonathan Viner are not to be missed.

There is plenty of good painting at the Independent, too. Mark Barrow and Sarah Parke, at Elizabeth Dee, are a young married team; she weaves canvases, and he meticulously paints their individual threads. Mary Ramsden is a British painter fresh out of art school. Her panels at Pilar Corrias are scuffed and sanded, some from a new series called “Licks” (referring to the motion of the brush, but also to guitar licks).

At Andrew Kreps, the Irish painter Padraig Timoney’s canvases are made by adding layers — literally creating different paintings on top of one another — and stripping portions away. Mathew Cerletty’suncanny post-Pop is at Jay Gorney; Aura Rosenberg’s paintings sourced from vintage pornography are at Martos; and Marina Rheingantz, at Fortes Vilaça, makes spectral, Whistler-like abstractions that are currently popular in Brazil.

Stefan Brüggemann’s wall of graffiti on canvas at Parra & Romero is impossible to miss: The black and orange text is taken from recent headlines and from some last lines in movies like “Citizen Kane” and “The Wolf of Wall Street.”

Somewhere between painting and prints is a rather nice installation at Gladstone by Allora & Calzadilla, the team made up of Jennifer Allora and Guillermo Calzadilla. Better than their overly labored performance work with singing children at the gallery recently, it consists of deep blue images: watercolors made from photographs of water coolers taken covertly in the corporate offices of financial institutions like Goldman Sachs and Credit Suisse. 

There are more historical paintings, like Marcia Hafif’s monochromes at Fergus McCaffrey and Robert Moskowitz’s Minimalist canvases, made from rubbing window shades, at Kerry Schuss. John Tweddle’s folky paintings from 1967 to 1973, at Kayne Griffin Corcoran, have wonderfully scalloped edges, and McArthur Binion, an African-American artist who explores racism and identity in his abstract Minimalist paintings and “DNA Studies,” has works from the early ’70s at Kavi Gupta. 

John Giorno, best known as a poet (and subject of Andy Warhol’s 1963 film “Sleep”) remakes the word painting in a series of recent works at Max Wigram. Mr. Giorno will also be doing spoken-word performances during the fair. 


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