Photography in the 2015 Pulse New York Contemporary Art Fair

With a number of art fairs already under my belt and the law of diminishing marginal returns starting to kick in with a vengeance, I ventured into this year’s Pulse New York fair with decidedly low artistic expectations. My goal was to find some lesser known photographic gems worth highlighting, some pictures overlooked by the other fairs but worthy of some discussion. With the benefit of a few days of hindsight, I’d say my aspirations were admirable, but my results were mixed at best.

Pulse’s low ceilinged, warmly lit venue feels more easy going and comfortable than other fairs, but that friendly lack of edge and grit cuts both ways – unless you’re the ADAA, you need some plausible threat of risk taking to keep things lively. My trip though the booths here left me with the conclusion that this was a show that was genuinely trying hard to be relevant and had lots of experiments going on, but just couldn’t deliver the consistent quality yet, at least photographically, to hold my interest for long. Put another way, there was more photographic chaff than wheat on view here (sorry Moby), with only a few ideas that made me think twice.

The slideshow below follows my winding path through the fair, with each image captioned by a linked gallery/venue name, the artist/photographer’s name, some relevant description/commentary, and a price as appropriate.

Uprise Art (here): While multi-image digital composites have become commonplace in contemporary photography, this one collapses space intelligently, mixing hard edges, softer brushstroke gestures, and pass through juxtapositions of glass/plastic forms. Charlie Engman, priced at $1000.

Lesley Heller Workspace (here): A Polish youth hostel offers a compositional blast of orange (plastic seats and painted wall), offset by an echo of triangles (floor tiles and angled stairs). Katherine Newbegin, priced at $4200.

Black & White Gallery (here): Cuban photographer Liset Castillo’s images are exercises in disintegrating destruction. Her photographs of studio sand sculptures are full of conflicting symbols, from a hammer/sickle and onion domes to the Chrysler Building and the Pepsi-Cola sign, all on the verge of falling apart and comingling once again. Priced at $12000.

Davidson Contemporary (here): Recent works from Neil Hamon turn vintage basketball photographs into clever heavenly ascensions, with players jumping for rebounds leaping upward toward puffy clouds and streaming bands of overpainted illumination. Priced at $4500.

Waterhouse & Dodd (here): Kim Keever’s billowing colored smoke compositions are actually made using pigment dispersing in a large fish tank of water. The abstractions are tactile, with sculptural volume. Priced at $4800.

Lower East Side Printshop (here): Sebastiaan Bremer’s mountaineering images are given a whimsical quality with overpainting. Bright dots like sunspots decorate the surface, like falling confetti. Priced at $2500.

Pictura Gallery (here): David Magnusson’s milky portraits of fathers/daughters who have taken a purity pledge (the daughter wanting to stay a virgin until marriage and the father supporting that decision) have a quiet sense of tension. While most are filled with authentic and touching earnestness, a few edge toward something a little more fervently uneasy. Priced at $3200.

mc2 Gallery (here): The sweeping acrobatics of an Italian airshow. Renato D’Agostin, priced at 2200.

Cynthia Corbett Gallery (here): Fabiano Parisi’s images of abandoned Italian theaters, full of rotted, burned grandeur, are yet another entry in the bursting genre of photographic decay. Priced at $7000.

De Soto Gallery (here): A gaggle of uniformed girls, chasing adventures with plucky curiosity. Osamu Yokonami, priced at $2000.

InSitu Works (here): Tight concentric circles in a dry Mexican lake bed, and the intermingling of Earth Art and photography. Aldo Chaparro, priced at $2000.

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Read more about: Aldo Chaparro, Charlie Engman, David Magnusson, Fabiano Parisi, Katherine Newbegin, Kim Keever, Liset Castillo, Neil Hamon, Osamu Yokonami, Renato D'Agostin, Sebastiaan Bremer, Black & White Gallery/Project Space, Cynthia Corbett Gallery, Davidson Contemporary, De Soto Gallery, InSitu Works, Lesley Heller Workspace, Lower East Side Printshop, mc2 Gallery, Pictura Gallery, Uprise Art, Waterhouse & Dodd, Pulse New York

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