Celebrating its ninth edition, FOG Design+Art returned to San Francisco’s Fort Mason Center for Arts and Culture with an international roster of 48 galleries, including longtime participants and first-time arrivals. Benefitting the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art’s education and exhibitions program, the fair’s preview gala on Wednesday evening drew notable faces such as Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, curator Larry Ossei-Mensah, and actor Owen Wilson.
With an emphasis on group presentations, exhibitors offered the packed aisles of collectors a host of media and materials. Because many booths were filled with sculptures, photography, assemblage, textiles, works on paper, and more, it was difficult to feel fatigue over figurative painting or painting in general, as has been a recent trend at fairs. While some galleries brought the work of New York’s art darlings, a number of exhibitors chose to highlight Bay Area legends and promising local artists beginning to gather larger recognition.
After the first day, blue-chip enterprises had reported a few notable sales, including Hauser & Wirth selling a 2022 Pat Steir painting for $850,000 and Gladstone Gallery selling works by Anicka Yi, Matthew Barney, Rirkrit Tiravanija, and others.
Below, a look at the best booths at the 2023 edition of FOG Design+Art, which runs through Sunday, January 22.
Andrew Kreps Gallery and Casemore Gallery
The work of Oakland-based Raymond Saunders is immediately identifiable in his solo booth jointly presented by New York’s Andrew Kreps Gallery and San Francisco’s Casemore Gallery. Featuring thick, gestural strokes of paint paired with delicate and barely visible line drawings in chalk, Saunder’s blackboard surfaces are covered in found ephemera, including shards of blue-and-white Chinese porcelain, a street flyer handwritten in Spanish, a doily, and a plank of wood.
One untitled work even includes an old page from a Chinese newspaper with a photograph of a former mayor of San Francisco, the late (and divisive) Ed Lee. Saunders’s disparate, overlapping materials attest to the cross-cultural exchanges that have shaped history and continue to inform daily life. Here, his large-scale, mixed-media pieces—all circa 2000—continue to captivate audiences more than two decades after their creation.
Participating in FOG Design+Art for the first time, Los Angeles’s Night Gallery is presenting new works by Claire Tabouret and Nathan Thelen. The presentation pays homage to early 20th-century artist and occultist Pamela Colman Smith, whose illustrations appear on the Rider-Waite Tarot deck. In two paintings, Tabouret reinterprets historical photographs of Smith in gestural swathes of earth tones; in the third, shades of green and blue.
Mounted on the adjacent wall are six altars to Smith—a collaboration between the married Thelen and Tabouret. Working with the historic Judson Studios, Tabouret translated a series of watercolor portraits of Smith into stained glass. Framed by Thelen’s hand-carved African mahogany, Smith’s face is illuminated by a small votive candle.
Drawing visitors in to Micki Meng’s booth is a giant peach, rotten to the extent of being covered in yellow, green, and brown mold-like warts. The stoneware sculpture is the work of Cathy Lu, a 2022 SECA Art Award recipient whose work is currently on view at SFMOMA through May 29. Protruding out of the porcelain fruit are dozens of joss sticks. Though unlit, the sheer quantity of incense is enough to emit a subtle fragrance.
Another standout in the group presentation are Heesoo Kwon’s lenticular lightboxes from her 2019 “Premolt” photography series. Manipulating old family photographs, Kwon inserts ghostly 3D models of her female ancestors into the image. Appearing nude to represent female liberation, the apparitions have either lifelike “yellow skin,” as the artist described, or snake skin after molting into their new form.
Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly referred to the gallery by its former name; it is Micki Meng, not Friends Indeed.
Ratio 3 and Nonaka Hill
Occupying nearly an entire wall of the booth presented by San Francisco’s Ratio 3 and Los Angeles’s Nonaka Hill are rows of individually framed polaroid photos by Daido Moriyama and Nobuyoshi Araki. The represented scenes feel true of the medium—fleeting, intimate, and impossible to recreate. The quotidian moments convey a specific time and place that has already passed, soaked in the ambient, hazy light of memory.
This sense of nostalgia continues on the opposite end of the booth in Ulala Imai’s painting of a teddy bear. Dressed in a checkered bathrobe, the plushie stands alone on a rocky terrain, backdropped by green underbrush. In the quiet scene, the stuffed animal feels almost animate, as if posing for a photo rather than forgotten and lost in nature during a family trip.
In Gallery Fumi’s booth, an artisanal touch appears everywhere, literally. Hands are a key motif, appearing in the stoneware vessels of Glithero (the creative partnership of Sarah van Gameren and Tim Simpson), a sculptural console by Casey McCafferty, and the figurative sculptures of Saelia Aparicio.
Organic forms carved from oak can be found throughout the presentation. Maria Bruun and Anne Dorthe Vester’s Comparing Conditions Oak (2021), for example, offers an elegantly simple design of smooth curves that mimic the wood material’s tree rings. Francesco Perini also opts for a minimal finish in Casamona (Oak, Verde Guatemala Marble), 2022. On the oblong tabletop are lines of embedded green marble that freely radiate outward in a variety of directions, evoking the beauty found in the natural world’s imperfections.
Jessica Silverman’s group presentation “Elsewhere Over the Rainbow” unites longtime gallery artists like Judy Chicago and Woody De Othello with new faces, including Loie Hollowell and Chelsea Ryoko Wong, both of whom joined the gallery’s roster less than a year ago. Chicago’s works arrive to FOG Design+Art on the heels of the New Museum’s announcement that it will mount the first New York museum survey of the artist’s work, opening in the fall.
A harmony of color draws the eye from Chicago’s azure and magenta Queen Victoria (2022), a hand-painted stained glass and lightbox, to Othello’s blue and green ceramic sculpture, which is beautifully paired with the gradient aqua sea and multitoned sunset of Wong’s Mussel Rock with Friends (2022). Meanwhile, Davina Semo’s circular acrylic mirror parallels the bulbous forms of Hollowell’s works on paper, absorbing and reflecting Hollowell’s burgundy and gold color palette.
Intimately tucked in a corner of David Zwirner’s booth were the beige works of Yayoi Kusama and Ruth Asawa. In contrast to the playful, colorful dots populating Kusama’s current collaboration with Louis Vuitton, here, visitors can engage with the more muted aspects of artist’s expansive practice. Her monochromatic painting from the long-running “Infinity-Nets” series invites viewers to become engrossed by texture and form instead.
On the adjacent wall are two delicate ink paintings on paper by the late Asawa, a Bay Area figure beloved locally and internationally. Depicting a closely cropped pine tree in one work and petunias blooming behind a seashell in another, the carefully composed pieces capture Asawa’s masterful handling of material. From the meticulous depiction of pine needles to the thin wrinkles of the petunias, the artist’s painstaking attention to detail feels fluid rather than laborious.
Six new paintings by Moscow-born, New York–based painter Sanya Kantarovsky occupy the entirety of Luhring Augustine’s booth. Their painterly surfaces are saturated with angst and anxiety—the cause of which are unknown. In Mary Magdalene (2022), for instance, a woman hangs her head downward, purple in the face. Her unkempt hair is rendered in loose, gestural strokes of dark brown paint.
Accompanying this religious reference is an art historical allusion. In one painting, a man and woman lean into a kiss, suspended in the moment just before their lips touch. The sharp tilt of the woman’s head is reminiscent of the pose in Edvard Munch’s The Kiss (1897), which depicts a couple lost in a passionate embrace as their faces blur into pure abstraction. Kantarovsky’s scene is complicated by its title, Mama’s Man (2022), suggesting that viewers are perhaps witnessing a more troubling moment between mother and son.
Salon 94 Design
On the walls of Salon 94 Design’s booth are photographs by Kwame Brathwaite and paintings by Australian Indigenous artists Yukultji Napangati and Warlimpirrnga Tjapaltjarri. Brathwaite’s radiant images from the 1960s and ’70s of Black women defined and popularized the “Black is Beautiful” movement. Salon 94 Design offers another opportunity for the Bay Area to become familiar with Brathwaite’s work if attendees happened to miss the photographer’s solo exhibition at the Museum of the African Diaspora, which opened in December 2019 and completed its run just before citywide lockdowns in March 2020.
Meanwhile, Napangati’s paintings represent a then-burgeoning initiative in the 1990s led by Pintupi women artists to create art independent of their male family members. Part of Australia’s Western Desert Art Movement, Napangati is informed by ancestral memories tied to land. Her wavy, abstract compositions are studies in color and motion. With similarly energetic surfaces, Tjapaltjarri, who happens to be Napangati’s brother, paints optical environments that undulate in hypnotizing swirls.
In Matthew Marks’s group presentation, the work of contemporary art star Simone Leigh meets that of Joan Brown from the mid-20th century Bay Area Figurative Movement. Titled Stretch (Erbium), Leigh’s light pink stoneware sculpture, from 2020, depicts the abstracted figure of a Black woman in the artist’s signature style. Fresh from receiving the Golden Lion for Best Participation in the 2022 Venice Biennale’s main exhibition, Leigh will have her first comprehensive survey exhibition at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, this April.
Nearby, Brown’s pieces from the early ’70s similarly serve as a teaser for a major museum exhibition. The two works on paper embody the late artist’s playful figuration, and appropriately complement the decades-spanning collection of Brown’s paintings and sculptures on view at SFMOMA through March 12.