NEW YORK, NY.-
When the 15th edition of the Sculpture Objects & Functional Art Fair (SOFA NEW YORK
) opens on Friday, April 20 at the Park Avenue Armory, it will do what it has always had done best-spur visitors to wrestle with the topic: What is art? As always, attendees will be drawn to a thrilling collection of masterworks representing the gamut of contemporary art and design from around the world. Upon entering the exhibition hall, fairgoers will be instantly transported into a celestial mise-en-scene created by architect David Ling.
Here is an armchair tour through some of the fair's top highlights, starting at
Ceramicist Bonnie Seeman at St. Louis-based Duane Reed Gallery explores the utilitarian object as narration. Blending the macabre with the beautiful, the anatomical with the botanical, she expresses the fragility and resiliency of life (Booth 108).
Cristina Cordova, another noted ceramic artist, at Ann Nathan Gallery of Chicago, IL has been selected for inclusion in 40 under 40: Craft Futures at the Smithsonian's Renwick Gallery. Cordova's art emanates from psycho-emotional spaces that speak deeply to the human condition (Booth 110).
Ferrin Gallery, from Pittsfield, MA, presents Covet, an installation of new works by ten top ceramicists including Molly Hatch, Kurt Weiser and Sergei Isupov. From simple updates of content and cultural perspective to recreations in new technology, Covet artists reinterpret historic museum artworks in collaboration with curators from the likes of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Arts and Design, Museum of Fine Arts Boston and others (Booth 111).
New exhibitor Ruthin Craft Centre of Wales presents painted, hand-stitched applique on cloth by Eleri Mills, recipient of Arts Council of Wales' Creative Ambassador Award. "Influenced by the landscape of mid-Wales and its glorious Bardic tradition," Mills is a visiting artist at Columbia University (Booth 113).
London's flow, a first-time SOFA NEW YORK participant, presents noted Danish porcelain ceramist Henk Wolvers, who creates a wide range of subtle, colorful shapes with a touch of mysticism as he leaves it up to the clay "to find its own way" (Booth 115).
London's brand new Erskine, Hall & Coe (the former Galerie Besson) presents seminal modernists Hans Coper and Lucie Rie. "The works we are showing at SOFA are now very important museum works with a global following," says Matthew Hall (Booth 200).
The Danish artist Jeannet Iskandar, featured at Heller Gallery of New York, arranges undulating hand-blown glass tubing in sparse geometric forms, their milky light-emanating cores appearing to open and close simultaneously in marvelous depth illusions (Booth 201).
Here from London, Sarah Myerscough Fine Art presents wood artist Christian
Burchard, who organically exploits the Northwest Coast's native Pacific Madrone Burl with its wide range of beautiful color and textures, "letting the green wood find its own shape as it dries." (Booth 203).
Santa Fe's TAI Gallery presents Nagakura Kenichi's finely plaited freeform bamboo sculptures inspired by human and natural forms like fallen leaves, emerging shoots and cocoons. He was the first recipient of the prestigious Cotsen Bamboo Prize in 2000 (Booth 206).
The Tel Aviv-based Litvak Gallery offers seminal cast glass sculpture Head T by Stanislav Libensky and Jaroslava Brychtova. The Czech couple is perhaps the most influential and widely collected in contemporary glass, the first to demonstrate its sculptural possibilities (Booth 207).
browngrotta arts celebrates 25 years in business with 25 different artists, including Sue Lawty. Her 3-D paintings appear be made of hundreds of dots arranged in grid patterns, which upon closer inspection reveal to be tiny stones smoothed by hand and the sea (Booth 208).
At Ornamentum, from Hudson, NY, Stefan Friedmann presents David Clarke, one of Britain's most highly innovative silversmiths, who whimsically subverts entrenched silversmithing and metalsmith traditions, often taking them to surprising extremes. In 2010, Clarke was awarded the UK's prestigious Jerwood Contemporary Makers Award (Booth 209).
Bodil Manz takes top billing at Lacoste Gallery from Concord, MA. With works in the Victoria and Albert Museum, and National Museums of Sweden and her native Denmark, she is a world-known master of paper-thin eggshell porcelain whose cylinders are often so translucent that light passes through both walls (Booth 210).
Citing great designers of the past such as Jacques-Emile Ruhlmannt and Edward Barnsley, furniture artist Kent Townsend at Santa Fe's Jane Sauer Gallery enjoys the challenge of complex design, his recent works influenced by Art Deco style (Booth 301).
Also new to SOFA NEW YORK is Cavin-Morris Gallery which presents Rafa Perez, whose highly awarded artistry blurs the boundaries of ceramics, painting, sculpture and even performance (Booth 305).
Vivian Beer's furniture and objets d'art at the Philadelphia-based Wexler Gallery test boundaries between ergonomics and image, play and use, intimacy and performance. Her "sophisticated daydreaming" process selects from a cocktail of images and forms that embody beauty and power (Booth 306).
Ninna Goetzsche, featured at Cultural Connections CC, Great Missender-Bucks, England, garnered her reputation in porcelain tableware designs, resulting in an Arts Council of England's commission. Her recent studio work is "inspired by ice-clad oak and beech tree forests in her native Denmark." (Booth 308).
Carrying on a rich tradition of Belgian silversmithing are Thalen and Thalen, a father and son team from Francorchamps. Rob Thalen invites collectors and savvy investors alike to "enjoy the touch, the light reflecting in this precious material, and the sheer being of (our) objects." (Booth 310).
Earning his stripes as principal team member with the likes of Lino Tagliapietra and Dale Chihuly, John Kiley's glass sculpture at Schantz Galleries, Stockbridge, MA, explores internal and external form, expressing the shifting relationship between shape, light and color (Booth 311).
The Philadelphia-based Snyderman-Works Galleries presents poetic Korean artist/jeweler Sowon Joo, who calls her work "fairytales for grown-ups." Inspired by nature's order and harmony, Joo richly references its interconnectedness in her design and materials (Booth 318).
Furniture artist/designer Roger Heitzman at William Zimmer Gallery, from Mendocino, CA, strives for harmony in visual design and function with his flowing lines and graceful curves carved out of solid wood (Booth 331).