SLIDESHOW: UNTITLED’s Strongest Showing Yet

by Paddy Johnson on December 4, 2015 · 1 comment Art Fair + slideshow

Untitled entrance

UNTITLED. entrance

UNTITLED. organizers should be giving themselves a big pat on the back. Now its fourth year, the fair is clearly its strongest iteration yet. Part of this is just natural maturing of exhibitors over the course of the last few years—Asya Geisberg, SITE LAB, and Microscope are just three examples of programs that have consistently improved. But the fair’s also done a good job picking up strong new exhibitors, perhaps most notably this year, the Hole and Postmasters.

For uninitiated, the UNTITLED. fair takes place in a beautifully lit tent on the beach with perfect sight lines to virtually any gallery and art work on view. It’s impossible to take a bad picture. The showroom is designed to make the art they show look as good as humanly possible, though the work that looks best in this kind of environment tends to be a little too market friendly for my taste. Certainly, there’s no shortage of mediocre painting here.

That said, it offers a far more unified viewing experience then any other fair. In fact, AFC Senior Editor Michael Anthony Farley has consistently championed UNTITLED. over its competitor NADA for this reason. As he describes it, “Everything has a salable co-ordinated aesthetic while having some conceptual depth below the commercial surface. It’s obvious that they are curating for the market but creating a crowd pleasing fair isn’t the only objective.” UNTITLED. is the only fair with a curator, Omar Lopez-Chahoud.

Aside from the exhibitor changes, which probably contribute the most to the quality of an art fair, the show gets points with me for a collection of work that seems more current and contemporary than in years past. This means a little less heavy-handed conceptual art and an increased focus on digital based practices.

Those highlights and more below:


You gotta hand it to Postmasters for consistently finding strong new talent. Austin Lee, who painted the blue guy giving the thumbs up is the best recent example of this; his fluency with digital tools and paint seems so natural, you get the sense he dreams in Photoshop.


These 3D printed heads by Austin Lee may be my favorite work in the booth: he digitally prints the heads then paints over them. The process isn’t significantly different then his paintings, though the approach of covering one material that typically doesn’t need a patina with another seems more obvious here. The process reminds me a little of Trudy Benson’s experiments with paint, who similarly has never found a surface she didn’t want to paint over—including her own. And since Lee’s work is so tied to figuration it’s hard not to think about this in the context of identity, which in the hands of the artist is infinitely mutable.

Montreal Gallery

A fully printed installation by Dominique Petrin at the Montreal based galerie antoine ertaskiran. The piece has an immersive op art quality to it, as though Petrin were at times channeling Bridget Riley. By Petrin’s standards, this piece may be a little small—she’s also covered buildings with this material.


Julie Schenkelberg made her piece “Lemurian Shift” from found and reused material such as wood, sheets, plaster cast cups, and scrap metal. Much of it was repurposed from a recent exhibition at Aysa Geisberg and it’s the clear stand out of this show. Nearly every sight line leads to this stunning, monumental work of art that seems to be blooming a light filled bouquet of ladders and light stands.

Kath Grayson at The Hole

The award for best exhibition concept goes to The Hole. (That’s founder Kathy Grayson and her dog above.) The whole booth is designed to look as though it were a photoshop program and the works images that were made with in it. And of course, it’s all digitally influenced/made work; lots of patterns, gradients and air-brushy looking work. No one particular work stuck out for me—though David Bradley’s vaguely figurative digital washes may be the most influential. According to Grayson the Australian artist made a big impression on stars like Michael Manning and Michael Staniak.

Friedrick Frasier John Wesley

Posted purely out of bias: I’ve never seen a John Wesley painting I didn’t like—even this relatively simple water and cloud works at Fredericks & Freiser.

LVL3 Lauren Clay

Lauren Clay made these wallpaper and modernist paper pulp sculptures at Chicago’s LVL3 gallery. The grayish patterns in the background resemble water tidal pools or tree rings whereas the sculptures seem almost bone like. What makes this exhibition so compelling, though, is the sheer scale of these swooping undulating lines; it’s art that literally envelops the viewer.

ADA Gallery

As per usual the ADA booth out of Richmond presents a strong collection of generally strange and unusual work. Owner and Founder John Pollard has an eye for illustration and abstraction and though the program is more diverse than just that, I often find myself most strongly drawn to that work.

Try Harder

Ryan Browning’s small post card like illustrations on copper plate were probably the least precious work in the ADA booth, and the most likely to be coveted by Dungeons and Dragons geeks. The image above, a sword with a handle topped by a skull and backed by a sunset, comes with the words “try harder” written below. I took those words, paired with the weapon, to mean that we’re not dead enough yet. We need to work hard to make that happen.

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