Kinke Kooi, Everything is Vain, 2011; acrylic paint, marker, graphite on paper; 30.25 x 22.375
Kinke Kooi: before yesterday I wasn’t at all familiar with her work or her name, but doesn’t it just have a ring to it? Kinke Kooi. I walked into Feature Inc. with my friend Daniel Feinberg and immediately being at Basel felt better, the anxiety lifted. Kinke Kooi’s work resonates and it quickly became clear that I didn’t need to know anything about her because I knew everything standing in front of the softly echoing eroticisms that comprise her drawings. Fleshy, feminine forms draw you in, and once inside it’s almost cosmic, almost as if you’re surrendering to soft, sensual truths. “She’s over six feet tall and beautiful, her presence is commanding, she wears all this jewelry, you’d love her,” Feinberg explains. “She’s a Goddess,” Hudson, director of the gallery, remarks. I look again at her pulsating forms -- there’s no phallus in site, we’re not in NY, I can breathe -- Miami is another horizontal town like my hometown, Los Angeles. Thank God.
Young Art, aptly titled, the Los Angeles gallery seems to have a finger on the pulse of what that means -- a Jessica Williams painting hangs front and center, beckoning the viewer inside, literally inside and through the subject of the painting, who Kate Hillseth, the gallery director, mentions is the artist’s sister. Lines compose the form of the subjects’ torso, leaving the space in between the lines visibly transparent. The work is about intimacy, and a few minutes later I run into Jessica at Athen’s juice bar on Collins. “It’s about interior and exterior space, intimacy…personal narratives, memory.” I’m left thinking over a kale and coconut smoothie; what exactly does one see when one looks inside someone else and how can one represent this/how does the interior of the subject of the painting reflect the viewer’s interior/seeking to represent intimacy through painting is a noble gesture/and Jessica’s sister’s sexy lavender jeans are perfect for Miami.
Jessica Williams, Enraptured, and enraptured, 2012, acrylic and oil on canvas, 37 x 44 inches; Courtesy of the artist.
Next Feinberg and I head to Sabor A Peru for ceviche and conversation. “I think younger artists want to get beyond cultural critique and make something inspiring, beautiful, a different lens with which to view the world.” Feinberg relates that after all of the critical work of the 60’s and 70’s and beyond people came to the stark realization that it didn’t really create change -- the wool wasn’t lifted off the eyes of the majority, if anything the work was consumed and reiterated by the capitalist market. I think about Mike Kelley. He went on to inject anecdotes from a European theorists’ take on why abstraction is important again during an overwhelming state of pervasive economic depression and constant, habitual war. I talked about having gone to see a group show of paintings at The Box a few days before coming to Miami. “I just can’t handle abjection anymore, it makes me feel sick, I don’t need art to make me feel sick, you don’t teach an abused child by abusing them.” Intimacy and sexuality on the other hand, are things I feel we could all use a little more of. Call me a hippie, a utopian, a Reichian, an Angelino, or whatever (and yes btw I meditate).
Ohad Meromi, Grave Digger #13 (Warrior Sitting), 2012, Wood, aluminum, concrete, acrylic paint, 71 x 15 x 13 in; Courtesy of the artist and Gallery Diet.
We move on to Gallery Diet in Wynwood and a pretty rad show by Ohad Meromi in the front room. “I seek to address issues of class and the distinctions made between the individual and the collective,” the artist states in the press release. Colorful, totemic sculptural figures line the space of the gallery, invoking 80’s architecture, and primitivism alike. All the figures are equally spaced apart, none is given priority, lending an egalitarian, almost modernist-utopian feel to the installation. We see Ohad outside. “I think of cities and skyscrapers,” Feinberg says. “They’re all people,” Ohad responds. We walk inside and talk a bit about the process. “I can tell it’s an intuitive process,” I say. “None of them were finished before they had faces, once they had a face they were done,” says Ohad. Sculptural “people” set up with equanimity throughout the gallery, utopia, modernism, abstraction, I’m noticing a trend.
In the back of Diet is a group show organized by Nicolas Lobo. I momentarily watch a video piece by the LA artist Kenneth Tam that gives me the heebie-jeebies, but that’s the point right? Then I move on to a few stellar drawings by Unica Zurn that are worth the trip to Wynwood despite the chaos of Art Basel. Wait. Stop. Breathe. Unica Zurn. Kinke Kooi. Basel. The Beach. Basketball. I’m in Miami.
Ok Mami, what’s next?
(Image on top: Kinke Kooi, Everything is Vain, 2011; acrylic paint, marker, graphite on paper; 30.25 x 22.375”; Courtesy of the artist and Feature Inc.)