Now in it’s 10th year, Volta features mostly solo artist projects, so you can get a better understanding of an individual artist’s oeuvre. Some of the highlights for me were:
Sapar Contemporary exhibited the work of Faig Ahmed. Originally a student of ancient languages, his current work is a deconstruction of the language of carpets. The artist takes traditional Azerbaijani carpets as his point of departure, deconstructing and reimagining them into unique, exciting pieces, often with sculptural elements, which are hand woven by local artists in the area around Baku.
OCP featured Permutations by Sandra Muss , who transformed seven doors from an old lumber mill in the Berkshires into portals to other dimensions. Dating from the 1800’s, these wooden doors had been encased in metal to make them fireproof (ironically, the lumber mill burned down). The artist kept her manipulations very simple, wanting to maintain the integrity of the doors, which she found quite beautiful on their own – in Door # 4, part of the wooden door is exposed. She noted that doors have their own mythology, of being simultaneously entrances and closures.
Charlie Smith London showcased Haunts by Welsh artist Emma Bennet, who combines old masters technique and subject matter – especially still lifes – against an intensely dark plain background, making the flowers, fruit and drapery seem to float in a void. Some of her pieces contain lamps which provide only partial illumination of objects that are then reflected in a mirror, playing on themes of absence, familiarity and memory. I’m keeping an eye on her.
It was a pleasure to meet Adrian Esparza, whose work I had previously seen in Brooklyn. Taubert Contemporary from Berlin showcased several of Adrian’s large-scale works, which he makes by deconstructing Mexican serapes, rewrapping the wool on wooden frames, and transforming them into abstract, architectural works. Several of his preparatory drawings were also exhibited. Adrian, who lives and works in El Paso, mentioned that he had studied painting at CalArts, where they took apart the notion of painting. I would say his work moves that concept in new directions.
Rockleman & from Berlin featured New York artist Kathleen Vance’s Traveling Landscapes, which are really that: aged suitcases, trunks and other pieces of luggage containing landscapes of soil, stones and artificial plants, often with water running through them like streams. The artist used this work to question ideas surrounding land ownership and water rights.
This was another great show from Volta, so be sure to put it on your list for next year!