Solo Presentations Shine at Armory Show’s 25th Run

Monumental hanging installation by artist Pascale Marthine Tayou. Pascale Marthine Tayou, "Plastic Bags," 2019. Presented by Richard Taittinger Gallery (New York) and Galleria Continua (San Gimignano, Beijing, Les Moulins, Havana).

The Armory Show, now in its 25th year, has come a long way from its inception in 1994; yet with a focus on solo presentations and providing a stage for fresh artist perspectives, the fair has remained true to its roots.

Originally housed at the Gramercy Park Hotel (and aptly branded as the Gramercy International Art Fair), the Armory Show was founded by four New York dealers whose mission was to create a platform for presenting and promoting “new voices in the visual arts.” Since then, it has moved its exhibitors out of cramped hotel rooms to the seemingly miles-long Piers 92 and 94 (this year expanding to Pier 90, for safety reasons).

In a decidedly focused, curated approach to art fair presentations this year, nearly half of all exhibitors – 88 in total – have presented solo- or dual-artist booths. Additionally, the Armory Show’s latest edition offers a voice for rising stars and under-represented artists. Particularly notable is the fair’s selection of booths featuring women artists as well as a range of emerging artists, prominent in the “Presents” section. These fresh faces offer some of the more intriguing selections from this year’s fair.

Below, our editors take a closer look at some of the standout offerings by exhibitors at the stalwart New York fair’s 25th anniversary.

Solo- and Dual-Artist Booths

Two works by artist Alex Gardner

Installation view of works by Alex Gardner at The Hole (New York).

A selection of highly focused presentations of solo- and dual-artist booths were prominently featured across all sections of the fair. Works by Alex Gardner at The Hole (New York) top our list of solo presentations. Gardner’s works are infused with an art historical sensibility, recalling 16th century Mannerist paintings replete with the drama of dynamic composition and elongated, graceful features.

LED-panel works by artist Leo Villareal at Pace Gallery

Leo Villareal, “Instance” (installation view) at Pace Gallery.

Artist Leo Villareal’s “Star Ceiling,” a 75-foot LED installation spanning the corridor between Piers 92 and 94, is undoubtedly one of the most immersive works at the fair – and one you’re likely to see it in your Instagram feed this week. Villareal’s solo presentation at Pace’s booth echoes similar visual motifs as his “site-responsive” installation between the piers. The presentation at booth 514 comprises a mesmerizing series by Villareal titled “Instance,” and touches upon themes of chance and spontaneity.

Other notable mentions include the minimalist works of Tadaaki Kuwayama at Whitestone Gallery (Tokyo), Octavio Abundez at Curro (Guadalajara), and the work of Edson Chagas, exhibited alongside Olivier Mosset at APALAZZOGALLERY (Brescia, Italy).

Women Artists

Exhibitors at the fair also provide a more in-depth look at contemporary women artists with vastly different perspectives. Topping the list are a series of recent works by Haitian-American artist Florine Démosthène. On her work, Démosthène has said that it is “more about femininity and sensuality and what it means to be a woman, within the body you reside (which is heavily coded with race, size, skin color, etc.).”

Three works by artist Florine Démosthène at Mariane Ibrahim Gallery (Seattle).

Installation view of work by Florine Démosthène at Mariane Ibrahim Gallery (Seattle).

In contrast are works by artist Celia Paul on view at Victoria Miro. “Celia Paul’s art stems a deep connection with subject matter and is quiet, contemplative and ultimately moving in its profound attention to detail and deeply-felt spirituality,” the gallery’s website explains. Paul’s quiet contemplation offers a welcome pause amid a vibrant sea of 20th and 21st century works.

Three abstract works by Fiona Rae.

Installation view of work by Fiona Rae at Galerie Nathalie Obadia (Paris, Brussels).

Other standout presentations of work by women artists include London-based artist Fiona Rae, one of the leading figures of abstract art in the Young British Artists movement. Rae’s whimsical paintings at Galerie Nathalie Obadia are some of her most recent work and offer a new approach to her “Figures” series, which she began in 2014 and was originally composed entirely in greyscale.

Similarly, Dorothea Tanning at Alison Jacques Gallery offers a breadth of work from the artist’s career, including paintings and works on paper recalling her Surrealist roots and is well-timed amid the Tate leg of a large-scale solo exhibition of her work, which was organized by the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid in collaboration with Tate Modern.

The Armory Show is open to the public March 7–10, 2019. For details, click here.