Kamiar Maleki is a collector, curator, fair director, patron and philanthropist with over 15 years’ experience in collecting, curating and managing art projects and fairs. He was fair director of Contemporary Istanbul from 2016-2018. Fluent in English, German and French, he is also co-founder of the Agha Khan Museum UK Patrons Chapter and founder of ICA Young Patrons for the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) in London. Maleki is the director of the VOLTA art fairs (Basel/New York) and PULSE Art Fair (Miami).
Emma Bennett’s paintings at once recall Dutch and Flemish still-life painting, 20th century modernism, film and photography. Exquisitely composed, Bennett’s recurring motifs of fruit, flowers, drapery, fire, dead game and interior objects, set against black monochromatic grounds, operate on multiple levels as memento mori. Exploring the fleeting nature of existence, experience and encounters, Bennett’s work refers to the incomplete, fragmented nature of memory and thought.
“My paintings, like memories, contain small fragments of imagery – these are focused details surrounded by darkness and ambiguity. The imagery of the paintings locates memories in specific places and, as with memories, there are sharply focused details as well as inaccuracies and things that one can’t quite recall. Bennett continues to subtly introduce new imagery into her work. Most recently, interior details including stairs, mirrors, lamps and personal artefacts reference regularly frequented places that were once intimate or familiar, but now resonate only in memory. Lamps illuminate areas partially, reflections in the mirror are abstracted, and curtains or drapery conceal the unknown. Unanchored objects are employed in combination with the void to suggest absence, longing and uncertainty.
Bennett was born in Wales in 1974. She graduated with a Master’s in fine art from Chelsea College of Art and Design in London in 1998. Bennett was recently included in 100 Painters of Tomorrow and Nature Morte, both published by Thames & Hudson, and the iArtBook 100 London Artists. She has exhibited globally in galleries and museums, including Aberystwyth, Amsterdam, Berlin, Bremen, Cardiff, Frankfurt, Helsinki, Klaipėda, London and Los Angeles. Bennett’s work is also represented in prominent private collections in Australia, Germany, Italy, Monaco, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States.
Ruprecht von Kaufmann (b.1974 in Munich, Germany) studied illustration and painting at the Art Centre College of Design in Los Angeles. After living in Los Angeles and New York, the German painter is now based in Berlin. In his paintings, the artist explores such aspects as human relationships or the restlessness of our existence. His works are rich in emotional, literary and other references and often combine realistic and surreal elements. For a few years, Von Kaufmann has used coloured linoleum instead of canvas for his work. By cutting into the material and by building up paint structures on the linoleum surface, the artist creates paintings that feature a 3D, sculptural aspect. Until October 2020, works by Von Kaufmann can be seen in the group exhibition Feelings at the Pinakothek der Moderne in Munich.
After studying painting in South Korea, Yongchul Kim (b.1982 in Yeosu, South Korea) moved to Stuttgart, Germany, where he has been studying at the Academy of Fine Arts since 2014. He will finish his studies in 2020. The characteristic brushwork of the young painter plays an important role in his figurative works – his figures seem to be swallowed by coloured brushstrokes. Everything in Kim’s paintings is in a fluid state. By presenting such an unfixed state, the painter raises questions about the uncertainty of our existence. Kim describes his painting process as an attempt to get a better understanding of himself, our world and the influence of society on the individual.
“I’m most interested in exploring ideas of perception and the ways that we experience the world around us. For 2D works, I think about creasing a rigid structure and warping it into three dimensions to shift the parallel lines upon its surface. But instead of creating a 3D construction, the form is compacted back into a 2D surface, setting up opportunities for exploring perspective.
Depending upon your viewpoint, this fixed perspective of the individual, 2D piece can align the work with the environment around it, or with just a few steps to the side, the piece inhabits another perspective plane and seems at odds with its surroundings. Combined with a field of other pieces, each with their own vanishing points, this view forces you to take time to interpret what cues your eyes are receiving.
I’m curious about the same effect with my mural work but on a more encompassing scale. This shift in scale is particularly interesting to me as I’m inspired by architectural constructs, and how simple lines can construct perspectives, helping us to solidify (or question) our ideas about the space we inhabit. Similar to the smaller pieces, shifts in your viewpoint skew the lines and create alternate interpretations of what’s happening around you.
The illusion of depth and space are crucial to how we take in our environments and navigate the world around us. We build up these images through movement, and I ultimately want to get the viewer moving around in physical space. Vanishing points shift, shapes get skewed, and a form on the wall looks more like an entrance into another universe. This movement and subsequent experience hopefully plants some curiosity about how we automatically construct views of the world around us given cues via visual phenomena.” ~ Katy Ann Gilmore
Yaw Owusu (b.1992) creates sculptural installations that repurpose found objects, shifting the value of otherwise worthless materials into things of beauty. Built from countless pieces of loose change known as “pesewa” coins, his work activates urgent questions around economic and political independence in contemporary Ghana. First introduced as an attempt to cure the economic inflation in 2007, these small copper coins have almost no value in today’s financial climate, enabling the artist to use them as a primary material. Typical of Owusu’s approach to working with local agencies to develop his work, the artist acquired the coins by negotiating with Ghana’s banks – a bureaucratic process that is as important to the artist’s practice as the final works.
Created as structural works that embrace the same organic qualities of their materials, his sculptures have incorporated as much as 24,000 coins, transforming under various conditions and processes. The bronzed coins undergo various natural and chemical treatments, using salt from the south coasts and vinegar from the mid and eastern regions to reveal their age and quality. They can appear fixed onto wooden panels, draped over walls or loosely hanging onto surfaces to form a camouflage, however they are anything but decorative displays of natural beauty. Instead, these installations are an expression of the artist’s reflections on the complex processes that demarcate Ghana’s social and political systems. Like the economy itself, the sculptures seem robust due to their dense façade, yet they are in flux and constant movement with their surroundings. The surfaces act both as protective layer of indestructible metal and a shiny foil made up of empty matter.
Through his socially engaged yet visually rich practice, Owusu’s continues to question the non-functionality of the country’s on-going infrastructural development. In his new body of work, devalued coins are transformed into detailed surfaces resembling maps. In one instance, they could be images of old colonial maps representing economic power structures drawn by history, or they could be alternative typographies that map out new possible relations for a more resourceful future. While the material itself is inseparable from the failure of socio-economic structures in Ghana, the artist’s playful approach is rooted in a sense of alchemy that embraces the complexity of notions of value, exchange and locality in an increasingly global environment.
“Sometimes I feel alone or being different space-time. It is like clouds and smoke that change shape themselves irrelevantly from time we spend or my own space. I put those feelings into the shapes as my works. Now I put into the shape of the feelings of freedom, time and desires, which are slipping away from my memories. I think this is important for me to be myself and ones to be themselves.” ~ Kunihiko Nohara, 2020
For this new version of VOLTA New York Lyle O. Reitzel Arte Contemporáneo (Santo Domingo) present the fantastic Spanish duo Los Bravú, an emerging artist couple named Dea Gómez & Diego Omil, who work on each piece with four hands with a fresh, original and solid proposal. Los Bravú are the gallery’s most recent discovery. Their original style results in works that evoke a Renaissance style intertwined with everyday contemporary elements, and a distinctive language that identifies them on an aesthetic and conceptual level.
“Mother with Child. We found her visiting a very small village near St. Louis. The girl had so much flow that she didn’t have to pose – she already knew how to put on. We asked her if she liked hip-hop music, and she didn’t know what we were talking about, it was in her blood.” ~ Los Bravú
Paul Villinski (b.1960) is an American sculptor best known for his large-scale installations of individual butterflies made from aluminium cans found on the streets on New York City. “A pilot of sailplanes, paragliders and single-engine airplanes, metaphors of flight and soaring often appear in his work. With a lifelong concern for environmental issues, his work frequently re-purposes discarded materials.
Villinski has created studio and large-scale artworks for more than three decades. Villinski was born in York, Maine, United States, in 1960. He’s the son of an Air Force navigator. He has lived and worked in New York City since 1982. A scenic route through the educational system included stops at Phillips Exeter Academy and the Massachusetts College of Art, and a BFA with honours from the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art in 1984.
Hiva Alizadeh (b.1989, Tehran, Iran)
The landscape can be an extremely volatile and ephemeral subject. The sky is constantly changing, nature is never still, colours are repeatedly transforming and, consequently, our perception is also affected. Often, when we have the impression of having caught a static image, it has already become something else. It can happen almost imperceptibly, but it is a relentless dynamic.
Sometimes we remember the smells of the landscape, the noises of the place, our body temperature when we were immersed in it, the emotions that gave us. All this leads us to create an overall idea of the scenario we have experienced, which is not always a precise picture of what we have actually seen. What appears in our minds is an internalised vision.
This feeling seems to emerge from the works of Hiva Alizadeh, who offers us not merely a reproduction of some landscapes belonging to his native land, but also the perception he had in observing and walking through them.
The artist creates works that, although intended to hang on walls, have an actual sculptural character. These are canvases on which strands of synthetic hair of infinite shades of colour are hand-sewn. Weaving is a traditional and ancient practice, but here it belongs more than ever to the present, because of the material used, which is definitely not canonical and undoubtedly related to our contemporary era.
There are countless overlaps made by the artist in the arrangement of the coloured threads, and it is precisely this that gives a marked 3D effect to the works. The sensation is one of being in front of changing, vibrant and almost visionary landscapes, landscapes that, although speaking of emotions and personal sensations, are endowed with a strong and suggested tactility. Sceneries, those of Alizadeh, even though they seem impalpable, are the result of a dense material combination. And despite the shocking and almost pop colours, they express all the delicacy of an interiority that wishes to make itself manifest.
Ashley Norwood Cooper’s large-scale imaginative works engender dialogue surrounding the history of male dominance in the art world, while shedding light on the schizophrenic role of the artist-mother-wife-teacher, with which so many women can identify. Norwood Cooper feels she became a serious artist despite receiving feedback that having kids would diminish her career. She says: “It informs my art even as it devours the time and energy I have to create.” Using the heroic lens of the ordinary, Norwood Cooper creates textural expressive oil paintings that pulse with the idea that “nothing makes a mess like paint and life.”
Leading up to VOLTA New York 2020 and the debut of these large-scale works with ZINC Contemporary, Norwood Cooper has been asked to participate in 14C with Steven Harvey Fine Art Projects. Recently featured on the “I Like Your Work” podcast and in New American Paintings, Norwood Cooper has exhibited her work in solo and group exhibitions throughout the United States including First Street Gallery, Kathryn Markel Gallery, M David & Co, SUNY Oneonta, and ZINC Contemporary. She received her MFA in painting from Indiana University.
ZINC Contemporary, founded and curated by Laura Zeck, represents emerging and mid-career artists from the Pacific Northwest and beyond, most recognised for their love of colour, concept, and visual storytelling. ZINC has a mission to make women in the art world both visible and successful – and passionately believes that art inspires curiosity and fuels the positive change needed in our world.
“When quizzed about their top three favourite artists, most people I ask respond with the names of male artists. While it is great that these names are known, it does not say much about a world comprised of more than 50% women. Art should reflect the culture. We all know that art can inspire new neural pathways. What if the art we saw more regularly in our homes and institutions was created by women, minorities and the other? What would that do to make our world more balanced and how would that inspire and seed the solutions for so many of our problems? This is nothing that has not been said before. I am just trying to do my part to make it heard.” ~ Laura Zeck
While Raquel Maulwurf’s previous work dealt with the remnants and destruction of war, her new work now also captures our world’s chaos when hit by the forces of nature and ecological disasters that are closing in on us.
Making something evocative and beautiful from horrific events, these images, both destructive and monumental, are manipulated in such a way that only the essence of the event remains. The drawings no longer show what we see, but that which we know, making current events tangible, posing the question of why mankind is so eager to destroy.
Drawing on museum board allows her to brutalize the surface with sharp objects, depicting violence through violence by scratching, the artist is materializing destruction in both subject and process. For VOLTA, Maulwurf developed a special concept as a continuance of her recent solo exhibition The Carbon War Room at the Gemeente Museum The Hague, an installation of large scale charcoal drawings in contrast to “smartphone-size” drawings.
A VERSION OF THIS ARTICLE APPEARED IN PRINT IN SELECTIONS, ART GLOSSARY #52.