Anchored by Art Basel Miami Beach, a labyrinthine display forming what is arguably the art world's most elegant balance of breadth and quality, Art Week is the stuff of legends that transform millions of feet of convention spaces and tent installations into forests of concepts and a market of ideas, where the most eloquent abstract thinkers mate their minds with craft and offer for us a look at the inner workings of ourselves. For a time, the city itself becomes a textured canvas of international life teaming with gallerists and collectors traveling from the Americas, Europe, Asia, and as well as Diasporic regions such as Brazil and South Africa to chronicle, to buy art or to simply experience progressive works standing in temporary reference to one another with a sheer density-an experience that is unlike that of any museum. Works ranging in periods from the first strokes of modernism to those developed within the last year, hang across from one another forming what has been called a deep, engaging and yet ephemeral commentary on the state of human being.
"Art Basel Miami Beach is now the stuff of legends transforming millions of feet of convention spaces into forests of concepts where the most eloquent abstract thinkers mate their minds with craft and offer for us a look at the inner workings of ourselves."
In this precious maze of precious ideas, everything is fair game as conventions are exposed and potentially uprooted. Familiar elements are re-contextualized within an individual work; by the symbols it stands beside, and in best cases, these elements are seen anew. An element of a warship rendered not on its own but within a volume of water; setting the mind beyond the object of force and intimidation to the conditions and limits within which it exists. An element of an unblemished white and crisp kimono boldly extended amidst hundreds or thousands of intersecting chords which all but force the viewer to contend with the space surrounding the object as much as the object itself. An element of words formed of delicate glass, infused with neon gas and struck with electricity parallel a kind of emotional content as powerful and ephemeral as the flow of electrical current that brings those words to their proverbial life. These kinds of mind boggling elements are fueled by artists who in some unseen studio, struggle and pull together what may have once been only dreams; shadows of these uncommon ideas, or reflections in the dark pool of the idiosyncratic mind, to works that are have some crystallized essence of an idea through wit, cleverness and practiced craft. As gallerists further crystallize the artists' visions in presentation by managing an often-brilliant balance between progressive themes and rigorous quality controls, patrons enthusiastically search for, and collectively spend billions acquiring inspiring, thought provoking pieces with which to build collections that often mirror and preserve their deepest truths.
"…an element of an unblemished white and crisp kimono boldly extended amidst hundreds or thousands of intersecting chords which all but force the viewer to contend with the space surrounding the object as much as the object itself…"
What was not obvious, at least within Basel itself was any strong current of work resonating from the perspective of the notorious other identity defined in opposition to the European norm. I suspect, but cannot confirm that the idea of this otherness is the founding kernel behind the move to abstract and non- figurative work, and also it is actually endemic within contemporary art. In addition, I suspect that its resonance with non-European peoples will be, or perhaps already is measured in the choices of collectors who share such heritage.