Offering a more focused counterpoint to the impressive sprawl of the Art Basel fair nearby, the LISTE Art Fair has also opened its doors for its 20th anniversary edition, bringing trademark selection of smaller galleries, curatorial projects, and a more relaxed, familiar atmosphere to the bustle of Fair Week in Basel, Switzerland. Having opened its doors to VIPs this Monday, LISTE has already drawn impressive praise and attention for its offering this year.
Taking its own path through the week of openings, exhibitions and sales events, LISTE has etched out a path of its own, one that is as focused on the galleries showing, and their relationships to the broader network of gallerists, advisors and artists that pass through the halls of Kulturbeiz. Even from a glance at their website, where exhibitors’ web pages are marked by photos of their staff or founders, underscores the human element of the fair, and the connections between parties involved that make the fair a mainstay during the broader proceedings of Art Basel.
This focus is also underscored by the fair’s express focus on young artists, charging a fee to galleries showing works by artists over the age of 40. The result is a show that feels perpetually fresh-faced and forward-thinking, with ample young artists and new practices spread across the exhibition space. Artist Anke Weyer was showing a series of vivid, gestural paintings at Office Baroque, while several booths away, Clearing Gallery had brought forth a selection of pieces by Sebastien Black, noticeably more balanced, geometric works that incorporated the artist’s striking sense of color and form. Also popular was Geneva’s Truth and Consequences, showing a roughly executed female nude by Liz Craft, blending a subtle sense of humor with the artist’s vernacular approach to realizing the human body.
Other galleries leaned towards more environmental approaches and installation-focused works. Brooklyn space Real Fine Arts had brought a series of wall drawings by Sam Pulitzer, cartoonish graphics that intertwined narratives and interpretations through their clean-cut forms and abstracted iconography, while Berlin’s KOW Gallery was showing a series of wall-mounted televisions by artist Hiwa K, each bearing deconstructed imagery and blocky, colorful arrangements.
The fair also features a series of curated performances, one each day, executed inside the space. While on-site, artist Alexandra Bachzetsis’s PRIVATE: Wear a mask when you talk to me commanded attention with its blending of cultural codes through representations of gender, pop culture and desire. Future performances are scheduled featuring keyon gaskin and Hayley Silverman, among others.
Running through the weekend, LISTE offers the adventurous fair-goer an impressive counter to the massive spectacle of Art Basel and its seemingly endless rows of booths and monumental sculptures, one that, by contrast, privileges human contact and a more intimate process of discovery. The fair closes on June 19th.
— D. Creahan