Michael A. Robinson, all images by Elisa Etrari for Art Observed
As The Armory Show returns to the Piers on the West Side of Manhattan, so too comes the annual opening of the SPRING/BREAK Art Show, the adventurous, curator-driven program that takes up space at a pop-up location for a week of compelling and unique exhibitions and projects.
Ever the intrepid event, the fair has moved once again this year, taking over a full two floors of 625 Madison Avenue between 58th and 59th Streets, right in the heart of the city. The fair’s curatorial focus this year, IN EXCESS, was an intriguing concept, offering any number of jumping points for the artists on hand. Massive installations and hulks of material were the order of the day, like Michael A. Robinson‘s enormous cluster of utilitarian lights, bathing the surrounding space in a gentle glow, while in another space, artist Super Future Kid had built a dream-like world, filling the space with clusters of clouds and colorful pieces. Other works relied on historical allusions to periods of historical excess, harking back to the gilded age, pre-revolution France, and more, like Victoria-Idongesit Udondian‘s pieces, which translated similar epochs into a strangely evocative environment. By contrast, artist Kate Klingbeil’s transmutation of the bizarre stylings of Thomas Kinkade made for another entry on the idea of excess, one relying on the idea of a world beyond the bounds of traditional modes of practice, and the visual excess of the ornamental and banal.
Embracing a playful reputation and an emphasis on young artists and curators pushing enigmatic projects that do away with the sales-first mentality of the fairs across town, SPRING/BREAK offers a striking intersection of styles and practices. Given the size and scale of the proceedings around it, SPRING/BREAK has edged out an impressive niche for itself among the bustle of Armory Week, a space where exploration and adventurousness seem to win out over the sales-focused proceedings of its bigger sister fairs around New York.
Encouraging exploration and the unexpected as a welcome counterpoint to the Armory Show and its high-gloss counterparts, SPRING/BREAK is a colorful reminder of the power and joy art can have away from the sterile aisles of rote fair events. One can only hope that this sense of the unexpected continues to sit at the core of its mission, offering a refreshing respite from the all too familiar fair fatigue of the week.
The fair closes March 9th.
– D. Creahan
SPRING/BREAK Art Fair [Fair Site]