Happy Anniversary, Art Basel & Miami Beach

It's all about the art for Tony Japour

Anthony Japour (AJ) is an independent curator, private art dealer and owner of AJ Japour Gallery. The gallery deals in contemporary art with a focus on the Chinese Contemporary Art Movement and its relationship to the pillars of Western Contemporary Art. Since 2003, AJ has produced numerous art exhibitions and installations in Miami and South Florida. In addition, the Gallery’s secondary mission is to support organizations dedicated to the health, education, and welfare of children. AJ has served on the Fine Arts Board and the Cultural Arts Council of the City of Miami Beach.


It was billed as the tenth anniversary of Art Basel’s arrival to Miami Beach, but those of us who know, know it was really the ninth year because the First Edition of Art Basel Miami Beach in 2001 was cancelled due to the events of September 11th. But art is illusory and we can go with the illusion since the 2001 catalog was produced even if the art fair was postponed to 2002.

The Cities of Miami Beach and Basel (Switzerland) officially became “Sister Cities” this week celebrated by a wonderful symposium on the impact of Basel Architecture on the world stage hosted at the Bass Museum.

Kehinde Wiley, Mizrah (The World Stage: Israel), 2011 Oil on canvas, 45 x 36 in (114.3 x 91.4 cm) Courtesy of Roberts & Tilton, Culver City, CA

Kehinde Wiley
Roberts & Tilton
Culver City, California

Kenhinde Wiley’s work once seen is never forgotten. For me, it was love at first sight when one of his works appeared on the cover of Art in America in 2004. Known best for his recasting of heroic figures drawn from nineteenth century portraits of the Gainsborough style with urban black men of the rap star genre, his works are eye-popping. His sitters often pierce straight into your eyes with the strength of black power in America.

Having thoroughly examined that theme through its course, Wiley turned to The World Stage where he travels to different parts of the world to be inspired by local customs and culture for new works of art. Mizrah – the work on display at Roberts & Tilton Gallery – sold within the first few hours of the opening preview. The work is from Wiley’s latest installment of the The World Stage – Israel – where he has taken Israeli youth from a range of social, religious, and ethnic backgrounds.

In his travels around the world, he has remarked: “After a while…I started to see certain patterns emerge, patterns such as ways of dressing, patterns of speech, a type of post-black urban sensibility that supersedes race and tribal group. It is, in many ways, something to do with class affiliation.”

Ai Weiwei
Galerie Urs Meile

Ai Weiwei, Tree #11, 2009-2010 Mixed Media

Beijing-based artist Ai Weiwei is most familiar to Americans for his strong opinions against Communist China and was recently imprisoned and charged with tax evasion. Weiwei’s work was exhibited in the Art Kabinett section of Art Basel Miami Beach. Whatever one thinks about Weiwei’s technical artistic talent, he is a highly intelligent maker of objects and uses art as provocateur.

Earlier in his career in 1995, at the Museum of Contemporary Craft in Portland Oregon, Weiwei dropped a Neolithic Chinese vase from the Han Dynasty. Later drawing on Andy Warhol’s Coca Cola series, he painted a series of vases with the familiar Coca Cola logo making reference to Warhol’s notion that in America, Coca Cola is the same whether you are Elizabeth Taylor or any other person off the street – Coca Cola representing democratic equality.

Possibly making a comment on all the dead trees in China due to the country’s abysmal environmental policies, Tree, was exhibited by Galerie Urs Miele originally from Lucerne. Made from wood collected from dead trees in southern China, Tree, is reconstructed into a new living tree using the branches from the old trees. Here the artist continues to use wood as a primary medium to make reference to China’s ancestral cultural traditions. I also make the connection to the Jewish tradition of planting trees as a symbol of celebrating life representing growth, responsibility and stability.

Nick Cave, Speak Louder, 2011 buttons, wire, bugle beads, upholstery, and mannequin Installed: 98 X 68 1/2 X 54 inches Mary Boone Gallery, New York Jack Shainman Gallery, New York Casa Fendi, Miami Design District

Nick Cave
Mary Boone Gallery, New York
Jack Shainman Gallery, New York
Casa Fendi, Miami Design District

American fabric sculptor and former Alvin Ailey dancer, Nick Cave, was exhibited at two galleries (Boone and Shainman) in the main fair of Art Basel Miami Beach, and with a video work at Casa Fendi in the Design District. He is most known for his Soundsuits made of fake and human dyed hair, beads, sisal, plastic buttons, and ornaments and fabrics of all kinds. The only common thread in all his works is the burst of color with the exception of his monochromatic works. His Soundsuits make reference to African ceremonial dance costumes. Having just come off incredibly popular and stunning exhibition “For Now” at Mary Boone in New York City this fall which I had the opportunity to see, the works at Art Basel Miami Beach combined with the video works at Casa Fendi were highly engaging.

2011 Art Miami

Amy Flurry and Nikki Salk
Greg Lotus

Paper Cut Project
Jackson Fine Art, Atlanta, GA

Art fairs and fashion houses alike have had the chance to house the chic paper wig sculptures that were featured at Jackson Fine Art this year at Art Miami. Amy Flurry and Nikki Salk, Atlanta natives, brilliantly hand craft each sculpture to accompany the fashion house in which they reside.

Greg Lotus, Pierrotte, 2011 Image Courtesy of Jackson Fine Art, Atlanta and Greg Lotus. Image Copyright Greg Lotus. Jackson Fine Art exhibiting at Art Miami 2011

I had the chance to see the ‘wigs’ that will be featured in pages of December’s Italian Vogue. Marie Antoinette, Elizabeth Taylor and Twiggy would have loved to wear these wig creations. Fashion photographer Greg Lotus captured these paper wig sculptures in beautifully rendered bl

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