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Getting Wild and Political at NADA Art Fair

In a busy weekend for art in the city, the NADA (New Art Dealer’s Alliance) fair, at Pier 36, feels like an unstructured, playful break from the events at Frieze, Spring Masters or Design Collective.

 

On Saturday, the approach to the fair brought you past the Know Wave 3 on 3 basketball tournament – wherein art and media personalities played streetball alongside community groups like Downtown Girls Basketball. The event was organized and MC’d by Aaron Bondaroff, the former Supreme poster boy who now, through Know Wave (his radio station) and Moran Bondaroff (his gallery) has come to represent a certain youthful, street-level voice within the New York art community.

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It is this voice which typifies the scene at NADA – young galleries like Tempo Rubato and Callicoon Fine Arts co-exist with smaller dealers like Regina Rex. The overall feeling at the fair is immediacy – powerful, vibrant experiments in color and form that can be found throughout the fair.

 

At the booth of the Swiss gallery Sebastien Bertrand, this immediacy comes in the form of classic 1980s works by the Russian artist Alexander Kosolapov. The Pop-political imagery seems dated, and possibly all the more relevant hung among the contemporary works it shares space with. Also at Sebastien Bertrand, the work of Chloe Wise poses questions about religion and femininity in quiet, elegant gestures.

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At ROBERTO PARADISE, Puerto Rican artists deliver the most politically charged visuals of the event. Jose Luis Varagas’ work is damning and a brutally honest depiction of an island which is sinking under the pressure of debt. Caroline Wells Chandler is an impressive presence at the fair – large crocheted sculptures in vivid purples and yellows cover the booth which, initially extremely saccharine, quickly darken under the burden of dysmorphia and gender subversion.

 

The general sense of playful impermanence at the fair is only heightened by Tyson Reeder’s commemorative basketballs, for sale at the entrance. We are reminded that this space is normally used as a sports hall, but also that this is an art fair. The alchemy of the art dealer is to blend the spheres of participation and commerce – an experience which, at an event like NADA, feels like a vital way to engage with the art world.

 

Top image// Courtesy NADA Art Fair.