Photo Essays

Close Readings from a Cozy Art Fair

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Marcella Barcèlo, “Le Diablo” (2014), ink on Japanese paper (courtesy Galerie L’Inlassable, all images by the author for Hyperallergic)

As part of the frenzy of Frieze Week, Zürcher Gallery is hosting Salon Zürcher, a more intimate fair featuring both emerging and established artists. In its tenth edition, the Salon once again positions itself in opposition to the other large-scale, superstore-style fairs and offers a two-room gallery filled with unique and thoughtfully curated pieces. Six galleries are present: Galerie L’Inlassable, Galerie Mathias Coullaud, and Galerie Isabelle Gounod from Paris; Cathouse FUNeral from Brooklyn; Amsterdam outfit The Merchant House; and hosts Zürcher Gallery. Below, I’ve collected some of the highlights.

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Éric Rondepierre, clockwise from upper left: “DSL 17” (2011), “DSL 14” (2010), “DSL 1” (2011), “DSL 11” (2011), Diasec-bonded Lambda prints (courtesy Galerie Isabelle Gounod)

French artist Éric Rondepierre has been using movies as his medium of choice for many years, and recently made the transition from working with traditional celluloid film to digital film. These four images are video screenshots from classic movies that Rondepierre streams on his computer; he stops and captures moments where the file is buffering due to poor connections, freezing the image as it struggles to resolve, sometimes caught between two different frames. In Rondepierre’s screenshots, the pixels and eerie colors become reminiscent of painterly strokes, recalling the gas-lit figures of Degas’s interior scenes.

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Marcella Barcèlo, “La Noyée” (2014), ink on Japanese paper (courtesy Galerie L’Inlassable)

Marcella Barcèlo, a 22-year-old artist, creates “embedded collages” by layering Japanese paper; she covers up her drawings with successive sheets, sometimes sandwiching other elements like printed paper, until the pieces become thick and sculptural. Ghostly drawings of mythological characters, like the devil, a drowning woman, and religious icons, are trapped under paper. Behind swathes of watery colors, the barely perceptible lines of her underdrawings add dimension and depth, and, on the outermost layer of paper, disembodied arms grasp and gesticulate as if tenderly and anxiously holding the paper sheets together.

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Installation view of Farideh Sakhaeifar’s 8 postcards “ISIS/NASA” (2014), archival inkjet on metallic pearlescent paper mounted on sintra (courtesy Cathouse FUNeral)

Farideh Sakhaeifar who had a solo show at Cathouse FUNeral earlier this year had two series on display in the gallery. In “ISIS/NASA” she culls images from ISIS bombings and NASA spaceship launches, using Photoshop to conflate the two, and thus explores the dual themes of spectatorship and nationalism (and of course the similar formal appearance) present in the two types of images. The postcard-sized images are seemingly arrayed as tourist souvenirs.

In her other series, “Workers are taking photographs,” Sakhaeifar had 200 Iranian, male, working class laborers take their own photos. She stood directly behind them, holding up white backgrounds that framed their heads and upper bodies. The white background decontextualizes their bodies, catapulting them into the space of the sterile, white gallery.

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André De Jong, “Rosa-noir/The Folds Series” (2014), ink, gesso, chalk on 300g paper (courtesy The Merchant House)

For each of her pieces in “The Folds Series,” André De Jong spends years building the thickness of the paper through successive applications of ink, gesso, and charcoal. When the paper is ready, he shapes it, folding it to produce cracks and reveal the white paper underneath the color. The folds read as expressive, white chalky lines, producing sculptural drawings, and as De Jong told The Parool, “The destructive act [of the fold] is necessary to infuse life into these works. A remarkable thing about this type of object is that it retains the traces of this act, and that they are in fact decisive in determining its beauty.”

Form, as articulated through the handling of paper, is essential to De Jong’s cracked paper just as it is to Barcelo’s translucent drawings, while Rondepierre and Sakhaeifar grapple with the production and dissemination of the digital image. With these pieces, the ones that stood out to me at Salon Zürcher, the viewer can leave an art fair having contemplated the act of artistic creation.

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André De Jong, “Noir/The Folds Series” (2014), ink, charcoal on 300g paper (courtesy The Merchant House)
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Farideh Sakhaeifar, “Workers are taking photographs” (2008), archival ink jet, series of 18 edition of 10 (courtesy Cathouse FUNeral)
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View of Galerie L’Inlassable and Cathouse FUNeral’s installations

Salon Zürcher continues at Zürcher Gallery (33 Bleecker Street, SoHo, Manhattan) through May 17.

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