Six Artists Whose Works I Can’t Stop Thinking About: The Armory Show 2022
Sep 16, 2022
The Armory Show 2022 was a work out for your eyes to say the least. This year featured 100 more exhibitors than last year. It was evident from the entrance of the fair. Walking through the fair, I felt like I would never be able to see everything and fully appreciate all the beautiful (and sometimes not to my taste) work I was seeing.
But your loyal eazel writer took on the challenge. I discovered works that made me just want to sit down and stare for hours trying to decipher every hidden message and reference. Works that trick the perception of what is ‘real’, what is history, who decides it, and how to remember. After taking it all in and leaving, there was some artworks that couldn’t leave my mind.
Recently, there has been one catastrophe after another including natural disasters, political upheaval, war and other tragedies. Yet within the chaotic world, there are moments, squished in between, filled with joy, excitement, rebirth, and hope. The artists that play between these extreme emotions, that dive into the uncomfortable, forgotten, the easy to miss is what drives me to keep looking and sharing art I interact with. In this sense, this year’s Armory Show did not disappoint.
There are many artists that I was drawn to, whose works I could see myself living with for a lifetime and never be tired of (if I somehow won the lottery of course). Alas, time is limited and one’s attention span these days seems shorter, so here is the narrowed down of my favorites six. I hope you fall in love with their work just as much as I have.
Presented by SOCO Gallery, New York
Walking by the booths at the fair I am constantly being confronted with bright colors, odd shapes and arrangements, confusing curation choices and art of course. When looking at the solo booths I was stopped by SOCO Gallery’s presentation of cheerful bubblegum pink and royal gold based large scale collages by Jackie Milad (b. 1975, based in Baltimore, MD). I was immediately drawn in and explored her map-like collages; recognizing references to ancient Egypt, art history, South America, and womanhood. I couldn’t get enough. The Baltimore-based artist creates collages that mirror her life and experience being a woman of Egyptian-Honduran origins, an experience that is completely her own, yet invites us to understand her narrative. By giving us a ‘map’, her own symbols intertwined with universal iconography, we see the unique path Milad has forged for herself in the artworld, and America.
Andisheh Avini and Iman Raad
Presented by Dastan’s Basement, Tehran, Iran
A duo presentation that left a stamp in my mind was that of New York based artists Andisheh Avini (b. 1974, New York) and Iman Raad (b. 1979, Mashhad, Iran) at the Dastan’s Basement’s booth. Each work by Avini echoes calligraphy and classical Iranian motifs, mesmerizes and transfixes onlookers' gaze. As someone who appreciates veneer and the classical craft of marquetry, I was excited to imagine these works’ processes and see the successful results. The geological stones that Avini has chosen as his ‘canvases’ are works of natural art that can stand on their own, but what makes these works valuable art is his own take on the subject of nature with the craftsmanship.
In contrast with the hardness of Avini’s stone wonders, are the fragile reversed glass paintings by Raad. Each of his painting is caringly painted, with beautifully designed artist frames, acting as a window into his bird world, with human and wit layered into each piece. Like with Sad Easterner, Crimson-headed Epochpecker, of crying bird with the body of a belly filled with a black and white image of ancient Iranian buildings. The past of Iran and its inevitable present, is balanced in each one of Raad’s works.
Presented by MAKI Gallery, Tokyo, Japan
Before heading to this year’s fair, I checked out the galleries that would be presenting to see if there were any works and artists; and I am glad I did because it would have been a real shame to miss LA based artist Kaz Oshiro (b. 1964, Okinawa, Japan) at the booth of MAKI Gallery. Oshiro’s paintings take the genre of realism to its highest level. Yes, I said PAINTING. Oshiro studies every detail of mundane mass produced objects that have been marked with use, such as a tailgate to the back of a truck or steel beam, down to its smallest dent, and recreates it with his brush and manipulates them onto the canvas. One of his works leaning against a wall at first just looks like a random discarded object but it is only on closer inspection and delight that it is revealed that it is not a metal object but a painting. It was the most “interactive” painting I experienced at the fair.
Erin Ggaadimits Ivalu Gingrich
Presented by K Art, Buffalo, NY
It is not often nowadays that I come across a young gallery whose entire booth presentation is strong, thoughtful, and stays true to their mission. The Buffalo based gallery, K Art with focus on Native American contemporary artists, does just that. One artist that stood out the most was Erin Gringich, properly known as Erin Ggaadimits Ivalu Gingrich (b. 1990, Fairbanks, Alaska). Gingrich is a Koyukon Athabascan and Inupiaq carver, painter and bead worker who lives and works in the Denaʼina Homelands of Anchorage and Cohoe, Alaska. Each one of her wood carvings are haunting and carefully crafted, referencing a vital and important environmental resource that is unique to Alaska and often seen as sacred. This is seen strongly with Sitnasuaq Asiat (Nome Blueberries), with four circular rich blue carved masks with empty eyes, and strings of purple beads pouring and connecting out of each mask's mouth. The evocative installation references the famous blueberries of Nome, Alaska and reminds me of the communal act of berry gathering, eating, and enjoying that takes place.
Presented by Wave Pool, Cincinnati, OH
The idea of playing with perception and what is ‘real’ is a theme well played at this year’s Armory Fair. One of those artists that did this most successfully was the Salvadoran multidisciplinary artist Loreana Molina (b. 1985, based in Midwest) with playful photographs presented as part of the non-profit Wave Pool’s Welcome Editions (limited edition art objects designed by nationally recognized artists and fabricated at least in part by refugee and immigrant women living in Cincinnati). Molina’s photographs trick the eye, confusing the viewer to guess what is exactly occurring in the image. In Making Lemons Out of Oranges, you can see the green background with a hand reaching down from the right side to place a lemon in the scene, but the lemon is in two-dimension and the arm in three-dimension, making us wonder how these two objects can interact; What are the rules? What does space mean for objects on two different planes? The works at first appear cheerful but on closer ad observation, the playfulness feels a controlled constrained, and echo one of core goals in her work - “an exploration of spatial inequalities and the challenges that oppressed groups face in constructing places and establishing a sense of belonging”. I can’t help but be reminded of the roles one is forced into whether in society, family, or self, to fit in and hoping to blend and be accepted into your environment.