So the Big Lamington International Art Series 2014 kicked off in the formal sense with the Pulse Art Fair. This was my 'bonus' art fair as I had planned for Frieze on Monday and Kara Walker for the Sunday outing. But just like that concrete jungle where dreams are made* I managed to be in the right place at the right time. Pulse just happened to share the Metropolitan Pavillion on 18th street where yours truly had already planned to visit for the pop up flea (think obscure menswear brands). So we paid up and strolled in.
I've been to Pulse a few times, but not for a while. It is probably the main 'American' owned fair (as distinct from Art Basel Miami and Frieze NY). It is a great compact show and they have a few great things like the Pulse prize for the best artist at the show (where a gallery has only done a solo hang, so that does whittle it down a bit). This year's pulse prize winner was Hassan Hajjaj (pictured top) who was being repped by LA gallery GUSFORD. It was the first booth I saw but I walked all around the show before I realised it was the winner. Not only were the photos so colourful and stunning (and I love that kitschy Dutch wax cloth) but the innovation in framing was particularly clever with all sorts of exotic produce completing the larger photos. Continuing the African fabric theme another highlight was Martina Bacigalupo whose series of rephotographs (pictured above) of an actual African photo studio (Gulu real art) were made mysterious by the cropping / censoring of the heads. Privacy concerns or just merely aesthetics? You be the judge. I thought I saw a Tom Polo as part of a great hang at NY's Keeler and Co. but realised messy text works are taking over the whole world and enjoyed a William Powhida print where he gives tips for artists to sell. Some great ones, like '5. Remain sexually available' and '12. Performance and video are for porn.' Other highlights included Ryan and Trevor Oakes' match stick dome, price $25k but likely only $50 in matches. That's art right there! No Australian galleries but did see an Aussie (Rosemary Laing) being shown by a US gallery. Great work. Also liked Pulse commissioning some projects like Tamara Gayer whose "I'll be your mirror" (pictured below), featured in the bathrooms (boys and girls).
Points: I am in agreement with the officials here. Hassan Hajjaj is getting 3 points to go with his Pulse prize. Not only did I love his works but also really liked the merchandising he did for the fair with different sized editions as well as a cheaper smaller one just for the Fair. 2 points to Martina Bacigalupo for her Gulu real art series. 1 point will go to William Powhida for his tips for artists who want to sell. Very appropriate for a fair.
* okay, I will see if I can stop lyric checking that song but it really does get in your head, let's hear it for New York!