Art fairs are the center of the attention in Miami this week, with more than a dozen satellite events swinging open their doors in conjunction with the main attraction, Art Basel Miami Beach. But galleries in the city also time some of their most important shows for the week of the fair, and there is exciting work on offer. On a cruise through galleries in Miami, two exhibitions stood out far in front of the pack.
One was a razor-sharp display of New York–based artist Nancy Davidson’s hilarious and, at moments, frighting sculptures at the stalwart local nonprofit Locust Projects. There are looming eyes, swirls of DNA, and other enlarged corporeal forms, made out of fabric and displayed together in a wildly lit room that points to Pee-wee’s Playhouse, bygone amusement parks, and ’80s dance clubs. It is a seductively sinister display, a Venus flytrap of a show.
The other stunner was a solo outing by Tschabalala Self at the new Miami space of Thierry Goldberg Gallery, a longtime denizen of the New York’s Lower East Side. Self’s bewitching stitched and painted fabric portraits have been popping up in prominent places over the past couple of years now (in the gender-themed group exhibition “Trigger” at the New Museum, most recently), and they keep getting better and better—more inventive and crisper in composition without losing any of their radically loose, provisional feel. (No easy task when thread and needle are involved.) Her latest works are set in bodegas, and seeing them in the dystopian luxury land that is the Miami Design District could be discomfiting (designer stores fill the area). But Self makes it all work by setting down a checkered floor and and wallpaper with her drawings of corner-store buys. She channels a world that radiates energy, where identity and form are always in delirious, thrilling flux.
What else is on view? Quite a lot. White Cube, the powerhouse gallery with branches in London and Hong Kong, has a show of jute-sack paintings and one hulking sculpture by Ibrahim Mahama (a veteran of the 2015 Venice Biennale and Documenta 14) at a temporary space in the Design District. Fredric Snitzer Gallery is showing paintings by Enrique Martínez Celaya. Katie Stout’s extroverted design-sculpture is on view at Nina Johnson. And four solo shows take up Spinello Projects (by Agustina Woodgate, Antonia Wright, Naama, and Tsabar Sinisa Kukec). There is still more: Bill Brady is showing paintings by Danny Fox, Locust also has an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink installation by Pepe Mar, and and just a short walk away Derrick Adams is presenting a show at Primary.
And of course this woudn’t be a Miami Basel if Gagosian and Jeffrey Deitch weren’t cooking something up. They have organized a show called “Abstract/Not Abstract” at the Moore Building in the Design District, and while the curatorial concept is just slightly north of David Letterman’s old bit Does It Float?, there is a lot of superb work, like a trio of intriguing new Urs Fischer paintings, some Steven Parrinos and Blair Thurmans, a couple Kerstin Brätsches, and more.
Below, a look around Miami’s galleries.