Marking it’s return to its usual spot in early summer, the 2022 edition of Art Basel has opened its doors for its early hours, preparing for a public opening this weekend with an expansive offering of works from European galleries and those further afield. Open once again at the Messe Basel, the fair continues its reputation as a flagship for the international fair brand, with over 200 leading galleries and more than 4,000 artists from five continents. Emphasizing it’s place as a central force in the run of events and fairs worldwide, Basel’s return to form is a tentpole in a run of reopenings in the wake of the Covid-19 shutdowns.
Spread out across the cavernous halls of the Messe Basel, this year’s edition of the fair’s Swiss flagship continues its run with another dynamic string of shows and special projects, from talks to films, sculpture to painting, and anything in between, compiling a broad range of works that underscore the breadth and diversity of the current art landscape. At Matthew Marks Gallery, one could peruse a range of works from gallery artists, including large sculptures by Simone Leigh, and an impressive set of new works by artist Gary Hume. Over at the Marian Goodman booth, one could explore new work by Gabriel Orozco, while Xavier Hufkens was showing a range of works, including commanding pieces by David Hammons. Also of note was Gagosian’s booth, pulling no punches this year with a selection of works by Theaster Gates, Gerhard Richter, John Currin, and many more, and clearly taking the fair’s return to full form as a prompt to push its strongest works.
Also returning for another year of monumental and challenging pieces was the fair’s Unlimited section, where artists had full-run of large spatial layouts to execute immense works: sculptures, installations, and long rows of paintings, drawing on the Messe Basel’s scale to allow for museum-grade installations of work. Of particularly impressive note was artist Folkert de Jong’s cartoonish and colorful, yet equally haunting sculpture for Sofie van de Velde, an immense rendering of a pair of soldiers that called to mind the violence of Europe’s past while providing a sense of space and distance from which to ponder it. Elsewhere, artist Huang Yong Ping’s installation for Kamel Mennour suspended a domestic kitchen on a canted angle, surrounding it with a series of immense cockroaches. Similarly jarring and surreal, the work made for a fitting counterpoint to the jovial atmosphere of the fair’s reopening, referencing the social and political strife occurring worldwide outside of the Messe Basel. Also of note was a striking series of new works by Wolfgang Tillmans, using the space provided to render a a series of images of powerlines in a deep blue and purple hue.
Over the course of the fair’s dauntingly huge install, the sense of an art world gathering back together was particularly well felt, especially in consideration of the fair’s assorted satellites happening around the city. With Art Basel back operating at full capacity, some things seem to have returned to something of a normal state.
The fair closes June 19th.
– D. Creahan
Art Basel [Fair Site]