Thursday, September 24, 2015

The Miami Project tent at Art Basel offered plenty of surprises.


This sketch of the entry to the Miami Project tent at Art Basel in Miami Showcases a sculpture by Mei Chin titled Cabinet of Craving. The large spider, 9 x 14 x 14 feet, was made of white oak, antique English bone ware (circa 1843), footed silver tray, steel, pigmented dye, and shellac.The sculpture is an homage to Louise Bourgeois, a Houston artist and friend, Jesse Lott, and Victoria artist, Madeline O’Connor. It assembles cross cultural adaptations found in furniture, ancient motifs mix bred with nationalist symbols, all under the influence of addictions that shape historical destinies. This crouching spider like monumental sculpture pushes it’s abdomen to the ceiling. Just behind this decorative mongrel visage, of an English bulldog and ancient Chinese “gluttonous” taotie mask, is Victorian-style glass case revealing it’s curious diet, an antique 1843 teapot upon a silver serving tray. The sculpture is a hybrid monster born out of addictions and manipulations of empires, in this case, the Victorian English craving for tea and porcelain, the Chinese desire for silver and the insidious and illegal trade of narcotics that lead to the Opium War.

A lounge chair and coffee table contrasted the sinister theme inherent in the spider. Catalogs where placed on the coffee table periodically that showed many o the artists works. I never picked up a catalog since I didn't want to carry around the weight. I was already carrying 3 sketchbook ins in my art bag.

I had wandered away from the crowd I was with so that I could find a quick sketch subject. Re-finding my friends was a challenge since every tent was packed with patrons. It was easy to develop "art burn" after a few hours at which point very work of art seems pretentious and homogenized. Most of the time I was focused of winding my way through the crowds rather than focusing on the art. I also rather enjoyed the fashionable people watching.

Terry's friend Elaine Pasekoff, had parked at a local parking lot, but Terry and I decided to stay later and then we took a bus back up to the condo in Miami Beach. Traffic is crazy at Art Basel, so taking the bus was a relief.

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