by Paddy Johnson on December 5, 2014 Art Fair

NADA entrance

NADA entrance

Unlike years prior, where the sales were so quick dealers actually lost track of what they sold to whom, NADA was a little quieter. Nobody was complaining, as pretty much everyone had made back their costs and then some, but perhaps some of the other satellite fairs such as UNTITLED. have finally managed to tear away a share of the emerging market.

As far as quality goes, NADA still attracts the strongest and most conceptually-driven exhibitors. This is a fair where dealers will talk to visitors about more than just the materials and hours that happen to make a work (though you can never fully avoid those conversations). Yesterday afternoon I challenged CANADA’s Phil Grauer to sell me on the merits of a work he thought I’d hate, and he took me up on it. I was shown three paint doodles by Michael Williams that looked like nothing, and was swayed on two of the three pieces. That conversation gets laid out in the slide show below, but to make a long story short: don’t miss this fair. It runs through Sunday at The Deauville.


Eleven Rivington, Installation view, Jackie Saccoccio

I don’t know what NADA’s calling the two different wings of the fair any more—the names have been removed—but this is the side with the view of the ocean. And Eleven Rivington’s Mika Tajima installation is the first work you see. Tajima’s resin gradient works mounted on wallpaper pack a punch. 

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The yoga figure as the central design element made me think Tajima sees the gradient as a visual resting point.

Eleven Rivington

Milky horizons. Mika Tajima at Eleven Rivington.

Lisa Cooley

This was the only decent shot I could get of the Lisa Cooley booth, as it was filled with visitors. The staff were grinning ear to ear as they told me they’d done well—they may have hit the jackpot.

Bjarne Melgarde

Is life on earth doomed? A growing number of scientists seem to think so, as does artist Bjarne Melgaard. At Rod Bianco, Melgaard prepares for life on Mars with an attempt to envision a mobile existence through colored pencil drawings. Melgaard’s stream-of-consciousness use of text and line overlap, often into a thick mess of scribbles. Heads and lips are everywhere; his homes look like aliens, and fashion is what keeps the air clean (it’s unclear from the picture, but it looks like he’s designed clothing that filters the air). Naturally, this planet is filled with acid and meth. Life on this new planet is utopia, but perhaps only for Melgaard. They’re great drawings, but this is really just a collection of his interests.

Bjarne Melgarde, Reich Der Trume

Bjarne Melgarde, Reich Der Traume



P! invited Moniker, an Amsterdam design collective, to produce a set of stickers that could be laid out on the NADA floors.  The fair had only been open five hours when I arrived, and already, the floor was coated with stickers.

The Lodge Gallery

Mostly, I’ve included Kent Henricksen at The Lodge Gallery because it’s another example of wallpaper use. It’s definitely a trend.

This is what sold me.

This alien ghost floating towards a woman in a tree is what really sold me, though. Aliens are also a trend at this fair.

Michael Williams, early work

Three early works on paper by Michael Williams that don’t look like much of anything at first. CANADA’s Phil Grauer never managed to convince on the merit of “One Fourth Jew”: a clipping of that title pasted on paper with paint scribbled on it. He describes the paint as viral-looking and pleasingly nonsensical. I don’t buy it. Are those grease stains made by the paint really a comment on jewishness and antisemitism?  Are those germs or just undirected marks? I vote for the latter. Meanwhile, Grauer did convince me on the merit of the two works to the left, by pointing out the absurdity of applying such common decorative doodling to cut outs that least seem to be asking for it. In the center conformity is embellished with curly cues, and an artforum ad to the right gets framed with a looping doodle.

Sarah Cynar

Sarah Cwynar’s career is going gangbusters right now, so we’re not surprised to see her at Cooper Cole

Vanessa Maltese

Cooper Cole also brought Vanessa Maltese, a Canadian artist who recently won the RBC prize for painting. Here, Cole shows off some of her mixed media work.

Invisible Exports

Leave it to Invisible Exports to find Nick Doyle, who painstakingly created the doll pictured above, cast its sexual organs, and then fucked the doll to pieces in the woods. Apparently, this work sparked quite a bit of discussion when it made at Skowhegan this summer. Is it creepy or kind of sweet and sad that he spent all this time making a doll that doesn’t give back? I suspect knowing the artist will help answer that question, though the fact that all of this is supposed to be a product of “Steven”, his alter ego, certainly adds a degree of creep.  Also, let’s keep in mind that “Hello Daddy. Hello Mommy. I am your ch ch ch ch ch cherry bomb” is a cast tongue on a motorized lazy susan.


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