Picks from VOLTA NY, 2015

This year VOLTA has taken up residence at Pier 90, a lovely spot on the Hudson right next to The Armory Show, which sprawls across Piers 92 and 94. A more manageable size than many of the other fairs, VOLTA is selective, and galleries that have been invited to participate present curated exhibitions of single artists. This year plenty of good paintings are on view, though some of the figurative work seems out of synch with the most compelling contemporary work in that vein. Although well painted, many of the pictures come off as too earnest and overwrought, perhaps reflecting the difficulty of finding a new subject amenable to traditional painting techniques.

The most impressive work in the show considers the relationship between physical and digital space. Artists continue to be fascinated by the distinction between what’s real, what’s on our screens, and how we make sense of the two worlds in our heads. Here are some snaps from the press preview yesterday.

[Image above: David Hayward presents an inventive series of small-scale abstractions at Frosch and Portmann that rely on a rigorous process of reworking and overpainting.]

Michelle Grabner has an installation of wonderful small-scale paintings of dish cloths and other domestic textiles at  Richard Heller.

BravinLee presents a group of 16 x 20 inch paintings that Thomas Nozkowski made between 1980 and 2003. This one is the earliest, from 1980.

From Leipzig, Galerie Kleindienst presents the work of Tilo Baumg�rtel, a painter who pairs odd figurative activity with stage-like woodsy spaces in a series of large-scale drawings, unframed and pinned in a grid format. Baumg�rtel had a solo show at Slag in Bushwick this past fall.

Lavar Monroe, who will have work in the Venice Biennale’s 2015 group exhibition “All the World�s Futures,” presents a series of exuberant painting-objects rooted in his research about 19th century human zoos. At Nomad, a gallery from Brussels.

At SEASON, Peter Scherrer presents landscape imagery from his hometown in the Pacific Northwest. Looming dank forest is palpable in most of his work.

Ryan Schneider brings a bunch of lively face paintings–sort of a mash up of Picasso, Nicole Eisenman and Mark Grotjahn–to the Two Rams booth.

At Kevin Kavanaugh’s booth, Robert Armstrong, a painter from Dublin, presents a series of gestural paintings inspired by other pictures, with a particular fondness for Poussin‘s landscapes.

At Fred Giampietro, Jonathan Waters presents small abstractions painted on the backs of old nautical charts and some beautiful small sculptures crafted from solid steel. Both series are inspired by the 160-ft freighter he bought in the 1970s and kept on Staten Island for live-work space. He told me the ship was in bad shape–he lived in fear it would sink.

 Giampetro also has a series of  Clint Jukkala’s new paintings that reference observation and surveillance.

Joshua Reames conflates different types of spatial illusion at Luis De Jesus

Steven Palmer at Vane seems to be a more sincere version of William Powhida (without the art market angst).

At Ada Brian Novatny tames and domesticates natural disasters, painting them thinly in monochromatic washes on wood panels.

At Scaramouche/The Pool, Eric Mistretta recontextualizes text from popular culture and advertising. He also presents a less interesting series made from nylon panty hose stretched over canvases. 

Guillermo Pfaff presents some meta-paintings at Hionas. What is a painting, and so forth.
Olivier Masmonteil thinks about image overload and how to make a masterpiece in the digital age. At Galerie Dukan, Paris.

Karsten Konrad makes clever paintings and sculptures from deconstructed objects and furniture at Pablo’s Birthday.

Hulda Guzman at Lyle O. Reitzel Arte Contemporaneo.

The impressive abstractions from Rubens Ghenov at Morgan Lehman are inspired by an imagined poet, Angelico Morand� (b. Spain, 1940 � d. Portugal, 2006).

Rose Wylie at Union Gallery. Her endearing installation includes a wall of paintings on paper inspired by celebrity culture. I wondered if the energetic octogenarian had been collaborating with some kids…?

Andrej Dubravsky’s barn-like installation at Dittrich & Schlechtriem includes hay and a painting shaped like a tent. Or a painted tent? He cites the sexual tension of Egon Schiele, Oskar Kokoschka, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Otto Mueller, and other Die Br�cke artists as touchstones for this body of work.

Paul Henry Ramirez fashionably installs his biomorphic abstractions over wall paintings at Ryan Lee.

At Galerie Heike Strelow, Hendrik Zimmer tears, pastes and paints a series of collages comprising photographs and abstract form. 
“Belonging to the post-internet art generation and experiencing the
changes brought from a long-since digital age and the network ideology,
Zimmer develops his paintings concerned particularly with their
materiality and their ways of presentation and dissemination in the
physical and digital space,”  the press release reads.
The same could be said about many of the artists at VOLTA this year.

VOLTA NY, Pier 90, New York, NY. Through Sunday, March 8, 2015.

Related posts:
Heads and tails: The figure @ Volta (2014)
Brece Honeycutt’s book report rom the Fairs (2013)


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