Art Basel 2019, four things I liked among the thousands at 290 galleries

Art Basel is, I’d say, a bit safer than usual this year: hardly any film, plenty of ‘another one of those’ moments, artists from the Venice Biennale out in force. But if course there are plenty of works of fresh interest. Here are four things I liked among the thousands at 290 galleries:

Rebecca Ackroyd: ‘EAVE!’, 2019 at Peres Projects, Berlin (Image Above)

This is the – necessarily long-legged – body as tower block, the title suggesting the biblical Eve as well as making an oddly singular reference to the edge of a roof. The windows and visor set up gazes and exclusions. Ackroyd’s figure seemed to be taking shelter in a separated-off part of the Peres booth – perhaps a take on homelessness, of your house and being simply your body.

Evan Holloway: ‘Lyre Form’, 2019 at David Kordansky Gallery, Los Angeles

What are the bulbous shapes animating the surface of this classical myth-referencing bronze, part of a recent move into ‘outside sculpture’ by LA artist Evan Holloway? They are casts of spent batteries, which he has previously employed as the ultimate useless item, and one speaking to environmental concerns. Here, though, the batteries’ chemical decay is perversely memorialized to make for a charged – and yet uncharged – take on what will last.

Tacita Dean: ‘The Lady Painters’, 2019 at Marian Goodman Gallery, New York, London, Paris

One stream of Tacita Dean’s practice uses old postcards typically sourced from the flea markets of her home city, Berlin. Finding six which were identified as ‘lady painters’ in a male fantasy presentation of female dalliance, she intervenes to asserts the primacy of the paint over the restricting construction of the artist’s image.

Carl Cheng: ‘Alternative TV #5’, 1974 at Philip Martin Gallery, Los Angeles


The widely travelled Asian-American Carl Cheng made a range of ‘nature machines’ in LA, Japan, Indonesia and China during the 1970’s. He stated, rather presciently, that they were intended to ‘model nature, its processes and effects for a future environment that may be completely made by humans’. They included an erosion machine, which wears away hand-made ‘stones’, and this restful alternative to television, which proposes a return to nature I preference to the artificial worlds in which we get lost.

Art writer and curator Paul Carey-Kent sees a lot of shows: we asked him to jot down whatever came into his head

About Paul Carey-Kent

Art critic and curator, based near Southampton. I write most regularly for Art Monthly, Frieze, Elephant, State, Photomonitor... and, of course, FAD.