The Felix LA Art Fair returned to the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel this week for its third full-scale edition, after a slimmed-down one last summer that featured mostly hometown galleries. An international selection of 60 galleries was split between ground-floor cabana suites surrounding a David Hockney–painted pool, and hotel rooms on the 11th and 12th floors, harkening back to an earlier generation of hotel fairs before the rise of the current global art fair circuit.
In keeping with the fair’s informal mood, many galleries mounted general presentations of their rosters, offering broad, if unfocused booths. Among the eclectic displays, however, some galleries did choose to mount thematic mini-surveys or one-person shows. Identity, the natural world, and material exploration were a few through lines that flowed throughout the fair.
Although Ranch founder Max Levai, a former president of Marlborough Gallery, may be an undisputed art world insider, his gallery’s booth mainly featured people who exist outside the canon, including visionary abstract painter Forrest Bess, Viennese occultist actor and director Renate Druks, and lowbrow godfather Robert Williams. There were some works by some relatively established artists—paintings by Peter Saul, sculptures by the duo Freeman & Lowe—but even these pieces were pretty out there. Freeman & Lowe’s works, some of the booth’s most notable offerings, are related to the fictional psychotropic drug Marasa, opening up a rabbit hole through their immersive invented histories.
Lin May Saeed, Sophie Barber, and Tom Allen at Chris Sharp
Chris Sharp’s spare presentation focuses on nature, a fitting theme for SoCal and one that popped up throughout the fair. Sophie Barber’s paintings of birds, done on puffy chunks of canvas, are the standout works here—they are intimate and funny, and they appear to be in dialogue with David Hockney visions of L.A. These works appear alongside Lin May Saeed’s carved foam relief scenes and Tom Allen’s unsettling, precise floral images.
Thania Petersen at Nicodim
South African artist Thania Petersen can trace her lineage back to Tuan Guru, an Indonesian prince brought to South Africa by the Dutch in the 18th century. Fittingly, her work interrogates colonial histories and explores hybrid identities. Her dazzling embroideries fuse styles derived from history painting and textiles, and provide both visual delight and subversive content through their rich symbolism.
Tanya Aguiñiga at Volume
L.A.-based artist Tanya Aguiñiga grew up in Tijuana and San Diego, and much of her practice—in particular her ongoing project AMBOS (Art Made Between Opposite Sides), which seeks to address issues related to communities along the U.S.-Mexico border—relates to the duality of border life.. Her textile sculptures and wall works have their basis in traditional Mexican weaving, but are also in dialogue with fiber artists like Sheila Hicks. They also incorporate the border, sometimes quite literally, as with Corazón Fronterizo (Border Heart), 2021, which includes a real fragment of the fence dividing the U.S. and Mexico woven into the piece’s rope and terracotta lattice.
Clayton Schiff at Harkawik
Clayton Schiff’s paintings are cartoonish, bizarre, and materially enticing. The New York–based artist depicts odd beasts or nude men in various states of mental distress or physical confrontation. Modernist Eastern European children’s book illustrations, Surrealism, and expressionism are all touchstones for his deceptively straightforward work.
Bojan Sarcevic at Galerie Frank Elbaz
Paris’s Galerie Frank Elbaz brought a lot to get lost in, from Kaz Oshiro’s impeccable facsimiles of mundane objects like a truck tailgate to Mungo Thompson bronze stacks of Amazon boxes to a photo from Bruce Weber’s “Chet Baker” series that is full of pathos and tragic beauty. But the work that proves most striking is by Belgrade-born Bojan Sarcevic, who melds body horror, adolescent rebellion, and material curiosity in his sculptures. Framed by snakeskin, these constructions featured boils, teeth, wounds, and desk doodles on BMW car mats in poetic and unnerving juxtapositions.
“Information” at Tom Solomon Art Advisory
Perhaps the most well-researched historical booth was Tom Solomon’s, which paid tribute to the Museum of Modern Art’s landmark 1970 show “Information,” which helped usher in Conceptualism and was curated by Kynaston McShine. Solomon’s presentation featured work created during the following decade by artists included in the original exhibition, as well as those who extended the show’s field of inquiry, including Laurie Anderson, Christopher Knowles, John Baldessari, Chris Burden, and William Wegman. Given the current NFT mania, one Robert Barry work from 1970 seems prescient. That piece states: “It is wholly indeterminate, has no specific traits, is entirely ineffable, is never seen and is not accessible.”
Ayan Farah at Kadel Willborn
Ayan Farah’s sewn minimalist canvases add personal and political significance to supposedly universal abstraction. Born in the U.A.E. to Somali parents, Farah is now based in Sweden, and her works reflect her identity. She incorporates natural pigments derived from substances like indigo and terracotta, leaving material traces of her global travels.