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Andehn Schiptjenko, Tony Matelli

Basel’s Mega Art Fair is Here! 0

By Elīna Zuzāne

Before the galleries switch off to their well-earned summer holiday status, there's just one art fair left on the busy schedules of gallery owners. The season's last annual fair, which will be held June 14-17, is held in the highest esteem by every art dealer – nothing can beat Art Basel's self-confident charm, serious circle of collectors, wide array of art on offer, and the city's collective creativity. This is the 43rd year for Art Basel in Switzerland, and the date has already long been marked in the calendars of art fair regulars. (Unsurprisingly, it's nearly impossible to reserve a hotel room in the city for that period already six months prior.) It goes without saying that visitors should prepare themselves for a rich dose of creative energy – this year, there will be 300 participating galleries, their expositions filled with the works of more than 2500 artists. The list of galleries includes such international big-names as Gagosian Gallery (New York, London, Paris, Hong Kong, etc.), Hauser & Wirth (London, Zurich, New York),Galerie Perrotin (Paris, Hong Kong), The Pace Gallery (New York, Beijing, London), White Cube (London, Hong Kong) and Marlborough Fine Art (New York, Madrid, Barcelona, etc.).

Cajsa von Zeipel

A Substantial Program

The fair's program is already quite full with just the main exhibition area – “Art Galleries”, but there's also the “Art Statements” section, which features solo expositions by new artists, and the “Art Feature” section, which is put together by curators. And, of course, there's “Art Unlimited” – the part of the fair designated for large-format installations, grandiose sculptures and live performances – created this year by the famous New York curator, Gianni Jetzer. “Art Parcours”, which is a collection of art objects tailored to the urban landscape and dispersed among various art spots in Basel, has been entrusted to Jens Hoffmann, Director of the CCA Wattis Institute in San Francisco. This year's “Art Parcours” includes the latest work by the Danish artist Simon Dybbroe Møller – “Animate V” (sited at St. Johanns-Rheinweg 55); the Swedish artist Henrik Håkansson's 2008 video work “Monarch – The Eternal” (showing at Water Pump  Station); and the installation “La 600” (sited at St. Johanns-Vorstadt), by the Swedish-born Aleksandra Mir.

Visitors will also have opportunity to become acquainted with the latest art publications in the section “Art Magazines”, watch artistic cinema at “Art Film”, and purchase souvenirs from the fair at “Art Edition”, which carries considerably more affordable pieces of art (prints, photographs, posters). In any case, one day is simply not enough time to take in all that the fair has to offer.

Jeppe Hein. 4-Dimensional Circle. 2011 

Nordic Galleries

Galleries from the Baltic States have yet to get into this prestigious art fair; however, several neighboring Nordic countries always take part every year. This year, galleries from Finland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Iceland and Russia are participating.


The Danish Galleri Nicolai Wallner (hall 2.1, stand H4) is showing mirror sculptures by the notable Scandinavian artist Jeppe Hein, Joachim Koester's photographs, and Elmgreen & Dragset's installations, among works by other significant artists. Founded in 1993, Galleri Nicolai Wallner has become one of the most serious contemporary art galleries in Denmark. Its current location – the old Carlsberg beer brewery, which has gathered under one roof the art-publishers and four individual art galleries – is considered an important creative crossroads in Copenhagen. At this year's Art Basel we'll also see the Nils Stærk gallery (hall 2.1, stand K4), another resident of the former brewery, which will be showing the kinetic sculptures of the young Danish artist Tove Storch, installations by the American Matthew Ronay, and the works of two Norwegian artists – Nils Erik Gjerdevik's paintings and Torbjørn Rødland's photographs.

Torbjørn Rødland, Striped. 2007-2012


Once again we'll have the chance to see the wares of the Swedish gallery Andréhn-Schiptjenko (hall 2.1, stand K18), which has decided to place their main emphasis specifically on the works of contemporary sculptors; this will give visitors insight on the traditions of the artists' method of expression, as well as the various different contemporary off-shoots of the medium. The sculptors' sketches and other aids will be displayed alongside their featured works. Artists represented by the gallery are: Siobhán Hapaska, Tony Matelli, Xavier Veilham and Cajsa von Zeipel. 


Finland's only representative at the fair this year is the gallery Anhava (hall 2.1, stand K16). It was established in 1991 and has experienced several changes, one of the main ones being its consolidation with the legendary Finish Galerie Artek in 1997. Nevertheless, it has remained true to its young, Nordic artists. This time these will be: Grönlund-Nisunen, Pertti Kekarainen, Anne Koskinen, Matti Kujasalo and Elina Merenmies.

Hreinn Fridfinnson. Dropping by Jon Gunnar's. 1965-1992


As usual, Iceland will be represented at the prestigious art fair by the gallery i8 (hall 2.1, stand K3), which will be showing the following seven acclaimed artists this year: Elin Hansdottir's projections, Olafur Eliasson's edgy “lamps”, Roni Horn's photographs, Ragnar Kjartansson's works on paper, Ignacio Uriartes' ink drawings, Ivar Valgardsson's watercolors, and Hrein Fridinsson's video work. In addition, Ragnar Kjartansson's 144 painting-series “The End”, which he created as part of a performance at the 2009 Venice Biennial, will be exhibited in the section “Art Unlimited” (hall 1.0, stand U50).


Norway is being represented at the esteemed fair by three galleries from Oslo, one of which is Standard, founded in 2005 (hall 2.1, stand J5). Artists featured are Gardar Eide Einarsson, Fredrik Værslev and Chadwick Rantanen, among others. The second gallery from this Nordic country is Galleri Riis (hall 2.1, stand H16). It has also brought a large selection of artists, among them – Dan Wolgers, Martin Erik Andersen and Olav Christopher Jenssen. Working together with Galerie TschudiGalleri Riis is exhibiting the large-format work “Tibet Tibet”, by Hamish Fulton, in the “Art Unlimited” section (hall 1.0, stand U35). In the same section, the gallery is also collaborating with Galerie Nächst St. Stephan – Rosemarie Schwarzwälder and Galerie Nordenhake, to display the painting installation “Territorium 17, 2012”, by Günther Umberg (hall 1.0, stand U14).

Ane Mette Hol

Opened in 2007, the gallery Lautom Contemporary (hall 1.0, stand S4) has been included in the solo show section “Art Statements”, where the gallery's exposition is devoted to the young Norwegian artist Ane Mette Hol's creative interpretation of the fair's exposition stand. The conceptual artist's ideas and their execution are often likened to magic – because it's practically impossible to tell Hol's creations apart from real objects. As the artist herself says – in art, technique is more important than the signature.


The only Russian gallery at the fair this year is Regina Gallery (hall 2.1, stand K21). Founded in 1990 by Regina and Vladimir Ovcharenko, it is known as one of the pioneers in contemporary art in Moscow. Although the gallery's work is still oriented towards highlighting young and promising Russian artists, by opening a branch in London in 2010 they've supplemented their exhibition program with works by international artists. This time, the gallery's stand at Art Basel will feature the voo-doo-like masks of Evgeny Antufiev, Sergei Bratkov's photographs, and Sergei Zarva's collages, among other artists and their works.

Sofie Bird Moeller. Interferences 58. 2009

Nordic Galleries at Basel's Satellite Fairs

Alongside the jam-packed Art Basel program, art-lovers have the opportunity to visit the smaller satellite art fairs also being held this week; their merchandise and atmosphere is in stark contrast with those of the prominent Basel fair. This is a chance to see the latest trends in contemporary art from a different viewpoint; oftentimes, this is where future sought-after artists debut their portfolios.

LISTE 17 – The Young Art Fair In Basel

One of the oldest Art Basel satellites is LISTE, the fair for young and promising artists, in its 17th year this summer. If other fairs give priority to galleries with serious experience, then this fair only allows entry to the very youngest art establishments. This year's fair includes 64 galleries from 22 countries, including Christian Andersen from Denmark and Johan Berggren and Elastic from Sweden.

Mikkel Carl

Volta 8

Volta is called the leader of the alternative art fairs because it is precisely the artists featured in this fair that have the greatest chance of gaining future fame in the world's most notable biennials, curated projects and art collections. Quite possibly, Volta has earned its status due the conditions levied upon the participants – every gallery's stand is strongly advised to display the works of just one or two artists, so that visitors can get a better sense of each artist's and gallery's creative vision. This year's fair has more than 80 creative establishments taking part, including eleven galleries from the Nordic region. Sweden is being represented by Stene Projects; Finland – Heino and Kalhama & Piippo Contemporary; but from Denmark – Martin Asbaek, Christoffer Egelund, Henningsen, LARM Gallery, Peter Lav, SPECTA, V1 Gallery and David Risley. It seems that the presence of gallery-owner David Risley in the board of curators of Volta 2012 has played a big part in the voluminous attendance of the Nordic galleries.

The Solo Project

The Estonian gallery Temnikova & Kasela is participating in the individual-project art fair The Solo Project, where the gallery will introduce Basel's art critics, collectors and the simply curious to the large-format works by the Estonian artist Kaido Ole. At this fair, visitors will mainly see well-established galleries and the works of artists who have already found their artistic identity.