At NADA, a glorious collision of paintings and ceramics


Two things are everywhere at NADA New York in Lower Manhattan: painting and ceramics. This makes sense, since the younger generation of digital natives (people who grew up with the internet and social media) that NADA typically showcases tend to favor art that is clearly non-digital and handcrafted. But I’m moving forward. First, NADA.

The New Art Dealers Alliance (NADA) is a group of mostly young new art dealers. This is the eighth edition of NADA New York (the last New York show was in 2018, although they appeared in Miami last December). Eighty-one members are represented at this fair, with a total of 120 galleries and non-profit organizations from the United States and around the world.

Young dealers presumably take more risks, and you see a lot of that here – in tone and attitude, mainly. The work ranges from scruffy, comical and irreverent to smartly polished – albeit with an edge. The last thing anyone wants to do is look old or out of place before their time. And yet artists and dealers have to make a living, hence the dominance of paint and salable crafts that knowingly copy the normcore aesthetic of thrift stores and folk art.

What is called pluralism – simultaneous strains of art – extends to painting and everything that falls under this umbrella is represented here: figurative painting, abstraction, paintings made without painting, and what ‘punk’ painting could be called, or works of art in which the artist appears as cool to spend a lot of effort. the New York one Kapp Kapp (Stand 2.02) covers that range, with a range of crisp, botanically inspired paintings by Molly Greene and homages to Hannah Beerman’s graffiti and collages. At the antipodes of painting are the socially engaged works of Karla Diaz at the Los Angeles gallery Luis DeJesus (Booth 5.03). Diaz’s deep, color-saturated canvases tell personal stories of migration from Mexico to the United States, while preserving the folklore of his heritage. Ryan Crotty at the Lower Manhattan Gallery high noon (Stand 6.15) revisits modernist formalism by achieving translucent abstractions with acrylic gel that creates ethereal, iridescent, almost holographic results. Other notable galleries showing paintings include Stephen Thorpe at Denny Demin (Booth 6.14); Mickey Lee at A pony ride (Stand 6.01) and a group exhibition at The pit (1.01)

Then there are the paintings associated with ceramics. Anna Valdez at the Los Angeles gallery Ochi (Stand 4.14) features both mediums. Brightly colored paintings based on tableaus made of books, plants, and animal heads or horns that she arranges in her studio include ceramic vases that she also created; some are displayed nearby, causing a sort of feedback loop between objects and images. Gustav Hamilton at the Denver Gallery David B. Smith (Stand 4.09) simply collapses the two: its wall reliefs are part paint, part ceramic.

Other galleries showcasing ceramics – many of which wildly invent the traditional clay vase – include the joint presentation by neighbors of the Lower East Side Gallery Proudman and Scenarios (Booth 6.10); the Los Angeles gallery Emma Gray HQ (Booth 2.06); Gallery Gaarepresenting Provincetown and Cologne; Lefebvre & Sons (Stand 3.13) from Paris; secret project robot (Booth P18); and Sebastian Gladstone and Harkawik (Booth 2.03). That’s a lot of ceramics.

While digital art is relatively rare at NADA, there is a tour de force digital work, a “Petshop” Metaverse created by artist duo Exonemo (Kensuke Sembo and Yae Akaiwa), mounted at Nowhere (Stand 3.15), a gallery dedicated to Japanese artists in New York. The installation includes cages stacked with computer screens on which appear strange animals “belonging” to various – sometimes anonymous – people. (You can, predictably, track the progress of these pets online at https://metaversepet.zone.)

The fair also includes a number of non-profit and conservation initiatives. One worth mentioning is the Children’s Arts Museum in New York (Stand C6), which presents a pocket installation in the section dedicated to cultural partners. I imagined that the proceeds from the works for sale here would benefit the Children’s Museum – but no. In fact, children were allowed to name their own prizes for their works. A child asks for a chocolate Easter bunny. Another wants three shoes (a pair and a half, apparently). And then there’s the 5-year-old whose work is priced at $55,555. I wouldn’t be surprised to see this young, enterprising man hold a booth at NADA in, say, five years.

NADA New York

May 5-8, at Pier 36, 299 South Street, Manhattan; newartdealers.org.

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