Art Basel Miami Beach Plays It Safe in the Sun

Brian P. Kelly, The Wall Street Journal , November 30, 2022

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The art fair, now celebrating its 20th anniversary, features thoughtful work but shies away from taking chances.


The Miami area has always been known to push boundaries. It gave us genre- and game-changing personalities like Gloria Estefan and Antonio Brown. It serves as a financial gateway to the Americas and dared to put the Key lime into a pie. It arguably invented the hurricane party and had no small role in America’s 1980s cocaine habit. Which makes the risk-averse nature of 2022’s Art Basel Miami Beach especially surprising. 


This year’s edition of the sometimes notorious, always well-attended art fair marks the event’s 20th anniversary and is its largest iteration to date, filling the Miami Beach Convention Center with 282 exhibitors from 38 countries and territories. And while there are few if any revolutionary works at the bloated proceedings—it took me nearly eight hours to make my way through the labyrinthine booths—technical skill and thoughtful compositions mean that there is still plenty of art that stands out.


Smart curation is also a highlight at several booths. First among them is Kavi Gupta’s space that features several artists playing with art history, albeit in very different styles. Arghavan Khosravi’s Our Hair Has Always Been the Problem (2022), in which a woman stares out at us, her locks about to be chopped off by a guillotine, is a potent, timely commentary on the place of women in the Iranian-born painter’s home country, and the delicately rendered garden behind her calls to mind Persian miniature painting. Nearby, Tomokazu Matsuyama’s brightly colored tondo portrait employs a visual language drawn from contemporary pop culture and Japanese manga while nodding to Renaissance compositions, and Suchitra Mattai’s wall textile combines vintage saris and embroidery to wrestle with colonial history while riffing on the tradition of European tapestry.  

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