Since it took up residence at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel five years ago, Felix LA has always been the scrappy companion to Frieze Los Angeles. When Frieze announced that it would move to Santa Monica, Felix doubled down on staying in Hollywood, opting instead to open a day earlier than Frieze—an acknowledgement that no sane person would try to make the drive between the two locales in one day.
Unfortunately, that translated to a more crowded affair than past editions. (This is Felix’s fifth.) The death-by-slow-elevator effect was still felt this year, only in a more intensified form due to the amount of people there.
Still, great art abounds in this tight, curated affair. In addition to the expected paintings and sculptures, textile-based works is present this time around in abundance, reflecting a trend felt throughout the art world as of late.
Below a look at the best booths at Felix LA.
Jeffrey Dalessandro at A Hug from the Art World
The most talked about presentation from this year’s Felix is likely to be a hallway installation by London-based artist Jeffrey Dalessandro. Though the hallway space, right off the Hollywood Roosevelt’s iconic David Hockney pool, might seem like a bit of a throwaway location compared to some of the cabana rooms nearby, these environs are the perfect location for Dalessandro’s 53 custom-made figurines of art world personalities, since they get the most attention here.
Presented by A Hug from the Art World, the project started out when the enterprise’s founder, Adam Cohen, received a figurine of Larry Gagosian from Dalessandro. Cohen, whose is a director at Gagosian gallery in New York, subsequently gifted it to the mega-dealer as a birthday present. That led to Dalessandro to create a figurine of notorious specu-collector Stefan Simchowitz. Over the past 18 months, the series has grown in scale from there. These action-hero-size works, which Dalessandro fabricates and paints himself, come with a monochrome box. They’re simultaneously reverential of these figures and irreverently tongue-in-cheek. Among those I recognized were Jeffrey Deitch, the Rubells, Yayoi Kusama, Damien Hirst, Rashid Johnson, Beth Rudin DeWoody, David Kordansky, Ai Weiwei, Maurizio Cattelan, Kenny Schachter, and many others.
Maia Cruz Palileo at Monique Meloche
Another sculpture-related highlight at the fair was a piece by Maia Cruz Palileo, who’s better known as a painter. Palileo received their MFA in sculpture from Brooklyn College in 2008, but eventually focused more on painting. Just ahead of the pandemic, Palileo was preparing for a solo show at CCA Wattis in San Francisco that was ultimately delayed until 2021. The postponement allowed them to experiment and find ways of bringing the figures from their paintings into the third dimension. The top of this work is a hand-carved and painted wooden rendition of a Filipina woman, with her base made from found chair caning—a nod to the artist’s Filipino heritage.
Sophie Stone at Europa
One of the best textile-based works at Felix comes courtesy of New York–based artist Sophie Stone. These intricately braided, woven, latticed, and tied works are made from dozens of found materials that she gets from friends and family or sources at thrift stops. Often, these materials have rips or strains, and she uses these imperfections as a departure point to guide her in making the work. Her pieces can be hung on the wall, displayed on the floor, or even laid out on a bed, as the one she had specifically made for Felix was.
Queens-based gallery Mrs. made the most of its hotel room. Oona Brangam-Snell made a bedspread, curtains, and accompanying tapestry in a figurative mode; Chris Bogia contributed a bright green headboard; Marc Mulroney offered a bedside table and accompanying old-school phone; and Rose Nestler had a cylinder pillow with two mirrors that seem to melt into it. Overall, it’s an interesting approach to showcasing how art can really live in one’s home.
Ayan Farah at Kadel Willborn
Artist Ayan Farah was born in the United Arab Emirates to Somali parents. The family then moved to Sweden, where she grew up, and Farah lived in London for a decade while pursuing her undergraduate and graduate degrees before moving back to Sweden. Her biography has shaped her practice, which manifests as elegant abstract works. To create them, Farah collects soils, minerals, flowers, and other organic compounds from all over the world and then via a labor-intensive process transforms them into dyes, which she then applies to the linen fabric in a patch-like pattern. The works then act as a map of the places she’s visited.
Suchitra Mattai at Kavi Gupta
In its large hotel room, Kavi Gupta has dedicated an entire back wall, as well as some surrounding space, to a salon-style grouping of works by Suchitra Mattai, who currently has a solo show at the Chicago gallery and recently relocated from Denver to LA. The gallery brought three works made from bunched and sewn saris to its Art Basel Miami Beach booth and wanted to present a different side of her multifaceted mixed-media practice. On view here are wall-hung pieces that toe the line between collage and assemblage, with photographs, painted elements, and affixed items like a fanny pack clip or a string of pearls. One especially eye-catching work shows a red-and-white china plate against a floral background; the trick here is that about a third of the plate has been broken off and Mattai has recreated it in paint, a metaphor of filling in an absence with a sense of fiction.
Karla Ekatherine Canseco at Charlie James Gallery
Emerging artist Karla Ekatherine Canseco is part of a community of LA-based artists that includes rafa esparza, Guadalupe Rosales, Gabriela Ruiz, and Beatriz Cortez, her former teacher. She recently collaborated with esparza on retrofitting a kid’s mechanical pony machine to resemble a low-rider for his performance Corpo RanfLA: Terra Cruiser, which he showed as part of Art Basel Miami Beach’s Meridians section in December. An expert welder, Canseco is showing two of her sculptures with LA-based Charlie James Gallery (as well as one in M+B’s booth at Felix). These are mystifying, beautiful ceramic and steel works that ooze a sense of cool. In one, a black dog snuggles up atop a vase that sits on spray-painted cinder blocks, while in another, a brown dog is rolling around on his back atop a plate of steel-diamond floor plate. This is an artist worth following.
Shellyne Rodriguez at P.P.O.W.
New York–based Shellyne Rodriguez is offering a preview of her first solo show with P.P.O.W., which will feature art about an array of pressing societal issues. An activist and educator in addition to being an artist, Rodriguez often focuses on gentrification, displacement, and the violent policing of Black and Brown people. In this 2022 painting, Rodriguez shows how officers who are people of color can also uphold systemic racism. The work’s title also cleverly points to this: BICOPs on the Third of May, a rearranging of the term BIPOC and a nod to Goya’s famed execution painting The Third of May 1808.
Mohamad Abdouni at Marfa’ Projects
Mohamad Abdouni has a 10-minute video alongside two photographs that discuss his life as a Lebanese American who grew up in the Bay Area, moved to New York as an adult, and then recently relocated to Beirut. We see him, though never his face, as he goes about life in Beirut, buying jewelry from an outdoor market in male-presenting clothes and getting ready and performing for a drag gig. When he did drag in New York, he felt “complete freedom”; in Lebanon, that wasn’t the case. “My circumstances don’t fit this country,” he says at one point. In another moment, he recalls how his father spat at the television when the news was discussing the legalization of gay marriage in California. This hasn’t stopped Abdouni from bravely documenting and archiving the histories and stories of trans people in Lebanon and the surrounding region. At a moment when trans rights are increasingly being legislated against in the United States, this work is more important than ever.