The Best Booths at ADAA’s 2021 Art Show, From Vodou Flags to Tour-de-Force Abstraction

Maximilíano Durón, ArtNews, November 4, 2021

Last night, the Art Dealers Association of America opened its Art Show, with an evening preview to benefit the Henry Street Settlement. Top art collectors like Agnes Gund and J. Tomilson Hill were in attendance. Artists KAWS, Leonardo Drew, and Chloe Wise; Museu de Arte de São Paulo artistic director Adriano Pedrosa; actor David Cross; writer Fran Lebowitz; and many more could also be spotted at the fair. ADAA members typically present booths that focus on one or two artists from their rosters. This year’s focused presentations didn’t disappoint, with a range of great art on view from knockout pieces by Melissa Cody (who also stopped by the Art Show), Myrlande Constant, and Young-Il Ahn. Below, a look at the best works on view.


For her debut presentation with New York’s Garth Greenan Gallery, fourth-generation Navajo weaver Melissa Cody is showing a selection of works made since 2009, including small- and medium-sized pieces like Dopamine Regression (2010) and Good Luck (2014). The focal points of the booth are two of Cody’s awe-inspiring large-scale weavings, Walking Off No Water Mesa and The Three Rivers, both made this year. With her pieces, Cody is trying to create a new kind of Navajo weaving. “In 50 or 100 years, my work will be considered traditional Navajo,” she said in an artist statement.


New York’s Yancey Richardson has a stunning two-artist booth showing off the famed photographs of Tseng Kwong Chi from his “East Meets West” series, for which the artist dressed in a Mao suit and stood in front of storied sites like the Empire State Building, the Lincoln Memorial, and the Grand Canyon. (Also on view is Tseng’s documentation of a Keith Haring and Bill T. Jones performance in London in 1983.) Yancey Richardson is also showing work by the L.A.-based Kang Seung Lee, whose art is also on view right now in the New Museum Triennial. In his intimate graphite drawings, Kang has recreated some of Tseng’s photographs, including one devoted to the artist’s visit to the Empire State Building, though Kang has replaced Tseng’s with a blur of graphite, a nod to the devastation that AIDS wrought on queer artists in general.


Philadelphia-based painter Moe Brooker creates exuberant abstract canvases that radiate energy and draw on his love of jazz. June Kelly is presenting several works by the artist, who was the subject of a solo show at the New York gallery earlier this year. Among the works on view is this large-scale diptych, titled Everything is On Its Way to Somehow #2 (2008–09). In a statement about his work, Brooker said, “As an artist, new information and experiences are vital to my work. The shifting and selection of those bits and pieces of information that are most useful spark and enlighten my creative energies. The need to know compels further exploration in the search for new ways of making ‘visible.’”


For its booth, Luhring Augustine had a bit of an unconventional approach. Rather than showing the work of one of the artists on its roster, the New York gallery invited painter Tomm El-Saieh, whose show opens at the gallery’s Chelsea space this week, to curate their booth at the Art Show. El-Saieh chose to highlight the visually stunning and intricately detailed work of Haitian artist Myrlande Constant, who is showing a selection of drapo Vodou (“Vodou flags”). The art form has traditionally been taken up male artists, who typically work with sequins in their decorations. Since the ’90s, Constant, one of the few women to make drapos, has been redefining the form, introducing laborious beadwork into her flags. Shown here is Constant’s 2010 mixed-media work Baron Lacroix.


For its booth, Chicago’s Kavi Gupta offers a tribute to Young-Il Ahn, who died last December. His large-scale gridded abstractions are tour de forces. To make them, Ahn used a palette knife to smear paint in loose rows and reflect on a time during which he was lost at sea. Through the paintings, Ahn aimed to combine his interest in music and nature. Completed in 2020, the piece shown above, Water GLGV 20, was likely one of the last completed by the artist.


Peter Freeman Inc. has the Art Show’s only custom-built environment, which the New York gallery is using to showcase the work of Fernanda Gomes. In fact, Gomes designed the booth, which includes a false wall that allows for intimate viewing, as well as a scrim that diffuses the light. In her work, Gomes often uses found wood and paints over it in white. Balance and equilibrium are key to several of the works, which have beams jutting out from their edges.


Melvin Edwards’s “Fragments” (1963–2016) were the subject of a 2018 survey at the Museu de Arte de São Paulo timed to coincide with that institution’s groundbreaking “Histórias afro-atlânticas” exhibition, which is currently on view at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, as part of a U.S. tour. After that show’s debut, Edwards was invited to participate in an artist residency in 2019 at the São Paulo alternative space Aurora, where he collaborated with local foundries and scrapyards to create many of the works now being shown in Alexander Gray Associates’s booth. Edwards “welded together steel elements like chains, shackles, and hammers to construct nuanced compositions that reference the country’s role in the Atlantic slave trade,” according to a release.


Soon to be the subject of a major survey of his groundbreaking art at the Benton Museum of Art at Pomona College as part of the Getty Foundation’s science-focused Pacific Standard Time in 2024, Fred Eversley presents three recently fabricated lens sculptures that he first conceived in the 1960s. These elegant sculptures, done in shades of violet, orange, and lilac, are showstoppers.

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