Three works by Queens-based artist Sarbani Ghosh
Nov 7, 2022
Highlights from the Other Art Fair
The bright and boozy arts bonanza returned to Brooklyn this weekend, allowing artists and their (potential) customers to rub elbows
For over a decade, The Other Art Fair has offered a bright and boozy forum for artists from around the world to show (and sell) their work in Brooklyn. For the longest time, it went down twice a year at the Brooklyn Expo Center in Greenpoint — until the space was converted into a ninja training gym. For the fall 2021 edition, the art fair, produced by Saatchi Art, moved to Knockdown Center in Queens.
This weekend, though, the Other Art Fair was back in Brooklyn, at Agger Fish building in the Navy Yard, in an industrial warehouse with towering ceilings and a bar stocked by sponsor Bombay Sapphire. Good vibes keep crowds coming back to The Other Art Fair, wherever it pops up — it’s fun and accessible by design.
Normally, galleries are the exhibitors at art fairs — artists vie for the opportunity to present with them, and split half their profits. At The Other Art Fair, on the other hand, artists are the exhibitors, selling directly to enthusiasts. A rotating panel of professionals selects each year’s exhibiting creatives. For the Other Art Fair’s Fall 2022 edition, three women chose 120 artists.
Each installment of the fair also stakes out free floorspace for a few outsider or non-traditional artists who may not have access to the broader art world as part of the fair’s New Futures section. (Full disclosure: For this, my fifth time attending the fair, I was on the panel of jurists.)
Many fresh talents across the festivities celebrated their first-ever art fair experiences this weekend, too. Here’s a roundup of some select highlights at this season’s The Other Art Fair.
Swiss artist Noëmi Manser has been based in Mexico City for the last two years. The surrealist artworks submitted for her first appearance at The Other Art Fair were inspired not only by the movement’s many legends who also spent time in Mexico like Leonora Carrington and Frida Kahlo, but also her personal experience with epilepsy. Having suffered grand mal seizures in childhood — she now only experiences partial seizures known as auras, not unlike Lewis Carroll or Dostoyevsky — thanks to self care. “Through painting, I found a tool to navigate in between those two worlds,” she tells Brooklyn Magazine. “I found art to be a healing space, a safe space for me to create and find my own sanity in the insane world.”
As I left Queens-based painter Yanqing Pei’s booth, I overheard a group of girls coming upon it. “I like these,” one said. “Wait, I feel like I’ve seen these before.” That’s how I ended up at Pei’s booth in the first place, pulled in by her artworks’ hypnotic amount of detail. Pei, who mixes textures to explore the interconnection of everything — from germs to gods — across our universe’s various realities, is featured in the latest issue of artist-run Maake Magazine. This weekend was Pei’s first art fair showing. She presented recent works that use time as a medium as much as drawing and painting, rendered in immense detail during 30 minute installments over seven or eight months.
Forrest Hills-based Pratt grad Sarbani Ghosh first showed with The Other Art Fair in 2019. For her post-pandemic fair return, Ghosh presented the latest, chaotic series from her mixed media practice. The first and largest canvas in that series was the centerpiece of her booth, which Ghosh painted red in part to spark emotional connections with the work’s multidimensional movement, its collages of found digital content, and its overall intensity. “Why not take a chance, show it to a big audience, get some reads on it, see how people react?’” Ghosh wondered out loud. Next, she wants to get bigger, from 36 x 48 inches to 40 x 60. “I want to expand even more and feel like it’s a portal that I can walk into,” she tells Brooklyn Magazine.
The variety of artworks on view by artist, designer, and Parsons faculty member Tomaz Capobianco, who’s appeared in Architectural Digest, are immediately striking, with their subtle and shimmering dimensions. The piece on the right features sculpted paper in a frame, but the work on the left is pretty much two-dimensional, engraved paper and gouache paint, with illusory depth emphasized by its sheen. You just have to look intently to ensure that the work isn’t entirely jutting past its picture plane. Other works on view featured paint alongside engraved wood, open ended movement flowing any direction the mind’s willing to be taken.
Spanish-born and New York-based genderqueer sculptor SiiGii shared three sculptures with New Futures. Using their fashion experience in hats and latex alike, SiiGii’s sculptures capture choreography mid-motion. Clothing appears to dance along with the deconstructed bodies they’re ostensibly covering. “My art practice is where I have the power to own my stories and create positive transformation,” reads their artist’s statement. “During the process of creation, I’m in an almost meditative state in which something that lives in my head gets born through my hands. It goes far beyond making something to look at.”
Toronto-based Dionne Simpson studied at Ontario College of Art and Design and the Cooper Union here in New York City. She’s shown with galleries since the aughts, but Simpson’s staff said she prefers selling straight to the public to maintain control over her businesses and, perhaps, closer communication with her fans. Each self portrait has its own world within it, like crosswords on one image, and miniscule brand names affixed on this one, stippling the visage’s contours. “My self-portraits discuss influences,” Simpson tells Brooklyn Magazine. “That particular piece critiques the influences of corporations and how they shape us as consumers.”
Andrea Arias’s art caught my eye on my first sweep through at the fair. Based in Panama, the artist got her Bachelor’s from SCAD and her master’s at Pratt, here in Brooklyn. This was her first citywide fair appearance, but she also had works in The Other Art Fair in London, which went down this weekend too. Arias’s tactile art harnesses her admiration for Pantone through gradient backgrounds in oil paint, which takes ages to dry in the humidity. Liquid foam, however, dries in minutes, and is the more tactile punctuation mark here, modeled after meringue and paired with acrylic paint delivered through pastry piping. During Panama’s harsh lockdowns, Arias says, “I really wanted to make art that you would want to interact with.” Visitors were encouraged to touch. Her sculptures are 3D scans of actual meringue, too.
“My art is not for everyone,” Arias says. “And I’m happy about that.”
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