I wish Pulse Miami looked a little bit more like its New York incarnation because it would likely be a lot less cheesy. I suppose this is overkill but I visited the fair three times this week to be thorough, and each time I went I became more bothered by the quality of work. To the fair’s credit however, their building design and exhibition layout is so good it initially makes the work appear better than it really is. This is a noticeable improvement over last year; thankfully the ghastly tent ghettoizing a few lucky dealers has been scrapped.
While Pulse easily takes the second place position within the contemporary fairs here, they are still a far weaker than NADA. Certainly, you’d never see FTC Gallery’s dime a dozen stripy resin paintings by Markus Linnenbrink at the New Art Dealers Association, nor Margaret Thatcher Project’s similarly contrived paintings by Robert Sagerman. This is work that belongs at Red Dot, not Pulse.
Kim Dorland, Woods #5, 2008, Oil acrylic and spraypaint on canvas, 96 x 216 inches, Freight and Volume. Photo AFC
Not to state the obvious, but the problem with the number of mediocre to outright bad booths in the fair, is that even the stronger galleries begin to look a little tacky. Torch gallery’s Yves Klein-esque Plexiglas table of pink pigment, by the hilariously named Judd Klein simply doesn’t need to be there. Meanwhile, Angles Gallery has a great Kevin Appel painting, Freight and Volume a moving Kim Dorland landscape, and Kinz + Tillou Fine Art — an unusual pick for us — a strong, if slightly limited series of Brian Dettmer altered books. All take some time to spot due to the surrounding visual noise.
The highlight of the fair comes from Angell, a gallery in Impulse, (the curated emerging galleries section), exhibiting a pair of Dorland portaits. In particular the headshot with paint moved through the sitter’s face is amongst the best paintings I’ve seen this year. Certainly it improves ten fold upon Julian Schnabel’s Big Girl with No Eyes. Work this good is worth the price of admission alone. In fact, it even resists the cheesification the bulk of the fair imposes on the strong work.