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AIPAD New York 2011

March 31, 2011

I’m struck by how very show has its own personality, even from year to year, as in AIPAD 2010 vs. AIPAD 2011.

2010 was the year of the large almost fluorescent Photoshop image with incandescent colors. In retrospect, the dealers and photographers must have been anticipating a buoyant buying season.

2011 was the year of the antique photo, even from contemporary photographers. It seemed as though every gallery was showing old work, even if it wasn’t. Perhaps the art world isn’t buying although many, many pieces had the ubiquitous little red dot meaning “sold” – so that can’t be it. Perhaps there’s a cycle to what’s shown – well, I haven’t gone often enough to know. Perhaps Jefferson Hayman is having an influence through his work – that would be excellent as is his work.

The antique photos are always interesting but I don’t see them as the basis of an art movement. Ansel Adams work is fantastic, but he isn’t taking photos at the moment. Nor is Cartier-Bresson or any other classic photographers.

It was interesting afterwards to speak to galleries not at AIPAD about the show. Universally, the sentiment was “fantastic show”. Couldn’t get a straight answer why though. Do we really prefer traditional black and white photography? As it happens, I’m a big fan of B&W photos and do gravitate to them. Maybe the art world is reflecting my taste but I have to say that, on the whole, I found the show rather ho-hum, just too similar.

I believe that the whole point of AIPAD is to showcase talent from currently producing artists, giving them the flexibility show their gifts. There were some standouts:

Soo Kim, showing at Julie Saul Gallery, had the knockout piece of the show. Ironically, they didn’t take a picture of it, even though it was their focal piece of art. Soo Kim is known for producing one-of-a-kind pieces. In this case, she took a close up of a white birch thicket. Then she cut the image along the tree lines in such a way that many of the tree trunks looked like peeling bark. Soo Kim successfully created a compelling 3-D photograph, albeit using non-traditional techniques. The whole was framed under glass but retaining the dimensionality. According to the dealer, Soo Kim will not make another of these. Ironically, no one at the gallery took a photo of this piece. I think they thought there was time before it sold. Well, they were wrong; the best piece in the show sold very quickly and for a pretty penny.

Soo Kim, if you’re reading this, can I have a photo of your superb piece? Everyone should see it. You can email it to me at chris@thsecondhanging.com and I’ll repost this article.

Robert Gunn Ketchum showed a wonderful piece entitled Turn, Turn, Turn at Wach Gallery. Ketchum has been designing very intricate and wonderful embroideries which are created for him in China. He takes extremely limited edition photos of the artwork designs and makes them available in life-size images. Unfortunately, Ketchum has forbidden reproduction of this image. So think of a Chinese scroll painting in wonderful autumnal colors. Now imagine a delicate tree branch with the wind moving the leaves which are turning color. Ketchum is disappointed that there isn’t more interest in his embroideries; so are we so let’s raise interest by referring you to his blog: http://rbtglennketchum.blogspot.com/2011/03/aipad-photography-show-new-york-march.html. (Now for an aside for the curious [and a personal note for the even more curious]. My grandmother was educated in a convent in Aleppo, Syria. The French nuns taught her to read (French and Arabic), to speak French, religion and needlework. No math, science or anything else. The girls were always making embroideries much like Ketchum’s, which the nuns sold. The process starts with a watercolor drawing which is the master to be followed with incredibly delicate stitching.)

Hackelbury Fine Art Limited showed two excellent photos by Doug & Mike Starn. It’s always curious when local (Beacon, NY) talent appears through an overseas gallery. These are the guys who made the bamboo structure on the roof of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2010. Their images of bamboo with spots of color were factual yet abstract.

Michael Hoppen Contemporary, also from London, showed diorama maps of London, New York and Istanbul created by Sohei Nishino. He starts with photographs of the city and ends with a marvelous collage construct of buildings, parks, streets and waterways which is then rendered into a print. This time, a picture speaks a trillion words.

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