There’s no denying that beauty (or ugliness) is in the eye of the beholder. Whatever your artistic taste — abstract, gestural, figurative, photographic or sculptural — if you have the budget, you won’t leave this year’s Dallas Art Fair empty-handed.
To say it was hard to pick the highlights in an understatement, but here are just a few of the weekend’s must-sees for open-minded fairgoers.
Andrew Kuo at Marlborough Chelsea
Data meets color in the abstract expressionist works of Andrew Kuo, the perfect pieces for our social media-obsessed, status-update-addicted generation. Kuo’s oversized paintings on wood are bordered at the bottom with little reference charts linking a specific hue to a feeling, emotion or event. Inspired by sabermetrics, they just may inspire the viewer to turn the ephemera of their own lives into something beautiful.
Aura Rosenberg at Martos Gallery
Hold onto your hats and hide your children: These acrylic paint-on-inkjet print canvases are most definitely NSFW. Depicting all manner of key party-esque escapades, Rosenberg’s small but impactful pieces revel in the hirsute era of the original Joy of Sex. It is surprising to learn Rosenberg is in her 60s, but perhaps it shouldn’t be: Only someone who lived through the Me generation could capture that decade’s take-no-prisoners sexuality in all its lurid glory.
Chris Engman at Luis De Jesus
A master of angular optical illusions, Chris Engman’s works on paper are simultaneously more and less than they appear. Photographs challenge the viewer’s perception as they distort ordinary sight — none more so than Corner Cube, which seems to jut out from the wall in three dimensions. It’s the perfect piece for a home with lots of angles.
Chul Hyun Ahn at C. Grimaldis Gallery
Trip the light fantastic and immerse yourself in the works of Chul Hyun Ahn. The South Korea-born, Baltimore-based artist plays with illumination and illusion in a way that makes the viewer feel as though he is entering an infinite — yet never unpleasant — void. Divine and disconcerting, his works are rabbit holes you’ll be happy to tumble into.
Louise Despont at Nicelle Beauchene Gallery
Both mathematical and lyrical, the graphite drawings of Louise Despont mix sacred geometry with more free-form shapes to make patterns that recall everything from architectural blueprints to Oriental carpets. That they are executed on a canvas of antique ledger book pages gives them a historical provenance beyond contemporary works.
Michelle Grabner and Brad Killam at the Green Gallery
When couples merge, they bring their own personalities — and aesthetics — to the table. This is especially evident in the collaboration between Brad Killam and Whitney Biennial curator Michelle Grabner. The duo — founders of the Illinois artist-run exhibition space The Suburban — paired her repetitive tondo dot paintings with his steel locker and car parts for Inside Trip, a larger-than-life mobile that embraces both space and movement in an industrially aggressive fashion.
Mungo Thomson at Galerie Frank Elbaz
Remember in 2006 when Time magazine’s “Person of the Year” was you? Now you can relive that moment each and every day with Mungo Thomson’s enameled aluminum version of that storied news magazine. Owing more than a little to the great pop art works of the ’60s, this mass culture-inspired piece can do double duty on a wall: making a statement while you make sure that your outfit works, head to toe.
Nick van Woert at OHWOW Gallery
Willy Wonka with a sinister side, New York artist Nick van Woert’s fiberglass and Sculpey pieces look delicious and disturbing all at the same time. Rainbow busts share space with figures dripping in vibrant polyurethane, trying to escape the material world as they drown in their own fluids.
Van Woert and other eye-popping artists make the LA-based gallery’s booth one to watch, and OHWOW is also notable for bringing its no-format radio programming KNOW-WAVE to the Comme des Garcons PLAY storefront at The Joule throughout the weekend.
Penelope Umbrico at Mark Moore Gallery
For Penelope Umbrico, more=more. Best known for appropriating images found through search engines, her work benefits through variants in repetition of everyday objects or views of the natural world. This safety-in-numbers effect feels strongest in her Signal Stills variations, a collective of 12 digital c-prints that recalls the loneliness that kicks in when a television station ceases to broadcast.
Ridley Howard at Koenig & Clinton
Anyone who lived through the ’80s knows a Nagel when they see one, and painter Ridley Howard’s 3:15 perfectly captures the pastel ennui that defined that decade. Another work from the artist for sale at Koenig & Clinton embraces geometric prettiness of Memphis furniture, assuring his work hits the sweet spot for anyone who launched their social career at the Starck Club.
Tony Oursler at Galerie Forsblom
Part of Helsinki’s emerging art scene, Galerie Forsblom has plenty to please — and confuse — the eye. Most impactfully: new media pioneer Tony Oursler’s Molt, featuring a disturbingly surrealistic projection on a large “S” of foam resin acrylic. As the eyes blink and mouth opens in hopeful greeting, Molt resembles nothing as much as a sweet anatomical freak who just really wants a new friend.