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VOLTA9: Quiet halls, but strong sales speak volumes
A VOLTA9 VIP interacts with Satoru Tamura's Point of contact machines (TEZUKAYAMA GALLERY, Osaka).

BASEL.- A steady flow of serious buyers to Dreispitzhalle all week long signaled sustained sales for VOLTA9, despite the overall quieter collector climate in Basel this year.

"Being the tortoise is kind of unsexy, but slow and steady does win the race," quipped Amanda Coulson, VOLTA's Artistic Director. "When I could find street parking downtown every night, plus get a table without a reservation, I have to admit it got me a little concerned about the visitors to Basel this year. Yet while attendance was certainly affected -- whether by the train cancellations, the air traffic controllers strike, or the insane stacking up of events from New York to Hong Kong to Venice -- in the end the adage of quality over quantity was clearly illustrated in the confirmed sales across the board."

Incremental transactions kept the momentum going. CHAPLINI (Cologne) calculated over 30,000 EUR in total sales for Düsseldorf-based artist Philip Seibel, selling large and medium-sized polished frames to collections in Rotterdam, Germany, and the UK, plus a minimalist sculpture to a Swiss museum interested in other works from Seibel's oeuvre. Meanwhile Rebecca Hicks of Purdy Hicks Gallery (London) admitted "sales are not amazing but very steady" and was "quite pleased by selling quite a few" of Bettina von Zwehl's petite photographic portraits. Hicks fielded strong interest from two big American collections previously unfamiliar with von Zwehl, plus confirmed two commissions from Swiss and Italian private clients. Over the course of the week, ADN Galería (Barcelona) sent Carlos Aires' installation De natura deorum plus several smaller works to 21c Museum (Louisville, KY), an Adrien Melis print suite to a Turkish collection, plus sold to Germany, the United States, Switzerland, and France.

Institutional invitations added a deeper perspective for participating galleries. Laura Bulian (of her namesake Milan gallery) was thrilled for exhibiting video and performance artist Said Atabekov, who received an invitation to participating in a major museum exhibition of contemporary Central Asian artists. "It's all going forward for Said and our program," said Bulian, "and I'm happy for that." ARANAPOVEDA Gallery (Madrid) navigated invitations for Susanne Themlitz at Osthaus Museum (Hagen) and for Ignacio Bahna's participation in a Spanish foundation. The gallery also recorded sales for several of Bahna's major recycled mixed-wood pieces. In the front hall, David Risley Gallery (Copenhagen) scored a major installation of Helen Frik's beguiling ceramics at Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen (Amsterdam).

The fair acted as a platform for artists of new and returning galleries. In her second year participating, Isabel Balzer of balzerARTprojects (Basel) noted tons of attention to Andreas Bauer's meticulous carved-book collages and sold two works plus a Superhome sculpture by young Basel-based artist Nicolas Kerksieck. Dillon Gallery (New York) enjoyed success in their Basel debut, selling a couple of Ultra Violet's etched-mirror Self-Portrait works ($6,000 each) to collectors from across the globe, plus clocked interest in a site-specific project for young Scottish artist Steven MacIver. First-time exhibitor PRO Gallery (Madrid) received much interest in Almudena Lobera's Superficial Reading series, with a new client from the Middle East purchasing 11 mixed-media 'books' from the final part of the suite. "For our first Basel fair, it's been a great experience for us," remarked dealer José Robles. In the tented area connection both Halles, Swiss artist STONEMAN (represented by art collective UNGUIDED, Zurich) was impressed with the reactions to his cultural caravan installation, which imbued an international take on localized issues of prostitution and political apathy. "People are telling me 'wow, this is already museum stuff!' or 'This is better than what I saw at Art!' -- I mean, what better compliment than that?"

Solo presentations and curated booths of two or three artists did notably well this year. Galleri Christoffer Egelund (Copenhagen) sold four of Christoffer Joergensen's kaleidoscopic Euro Spheres (6,400 EUR each) of various European Parliaments, plus sold a two-part woven C-print (6,000 EUR) and fielded offers on several Portrait Series works (3,800 EUR each). "We nailed our target," dealer Christoffer Egelund said with conviction. Across the hall, Jarmuschek + Partner (Berlin) moved Nika Neelova's monolithic, rippling wood sculpture (range 20,000 - 25,000 EUR) to a major German institution, and dealer Kristian Jarmuschek was pleased with positive feedback on his booth's curation. Meanwhile, dealer Kazuhide Miyashita of TEZUKAYAMA GALLERY (Osaka) recorded intense interest from Swiss and German collectors in Satoru Tamura's intricate 'emotive machines'. The gallery sold the supersized athletic icon Puma (11,500 EUR approx) and Tamura's interactive installation Point of contact for 80 incandescent lamps (10,500 EUR approx), plus smaller works from his Machine series. Nearby, Muriel Guépin Gallery (New York) sold four of six Joanie Lemercier Light Canvas projections on Sintra Prints ($20,000 each), placing one in the collection of the 21c Museum (Louisville, KY). The gallery also sold numerous interactive video projections on glass bottles by Gabriel Barcia-Colombo to Swiss and German collectors ($10,000 - $12,000), and dealer Muriel Guépin noted interest from renowned local institution Museum Tinguely in Colombo plus long-term collaborative projects with Lemercier from another institution.

"There was serious interest from the word 'go' today," remarked Christopher Yeats of Vane (Newcastle Upon Tyne) earlier in the week, who sold multiple works on paper by artists Stephen Palmer and Michael Mulvihill to a major Australian collector and others. "We've had a returning collector audience," added co-dealer Paul Stone, noting the many collectors they had met at VOLTA NY who made the Basel voyage. Arne Linde of ASPN (Leipzig) counted selling 10 pieces by artists Johannes Rochhausen and Jochen Mühlenbrink (range 1,800 - 21,000 EUR) to an international cast, including Germany, Sweden, China, Japan, and Switzerland. Plus, Martin Kudlek, of his eponymous Cologne gallery, admitted that while he'd "expected the fair to be a little more lively, but sales have been fine and contacts have been fantastic." He sold both of Belgian artist Sofie Muller's patinated bronze and burnt wood figurative sculptures for approximately 18,000 EUR each, plus sold from the gallery's other artists, Jonathan Callan, Angela Glajcar, and Alexander Gorlizki. The uncanny array at CHARLIE SMITH london (London) drew business all week long. Zavier Ellis calculated selling three John Stark paintings, five manipulated albumen prints by Tom Butler, and two massive Eric Manigaud graphite drawings to The SØR Rusche Collection (Oelde/Berlin), plus sold other Butler prints to Switzerland and Russia. Gauging intense attraction to Manigaud's Klinikum series, Ellis noted that if collectors said they were interested, they seriously meant it.

A distinguished array of discerning international visitors attended VOLTA9 this week, including Dr. Christina Leber (Head of DZ Bank Photography Collection, Frankfurt), who commented: "The selection of photography at VOLTA is more wide ranging of what I have seen until now, even at the main fair, and of extremely high quality." Other notable guests included Sherry and Joel Mallin (New York); Julian and Stephanie Grose (Australia); Rabih Hage (Designer/Architect, London); Joel and Zoe Dictrow (New York); Renée and Bob Drake (The Netherlands); Uli Sigg (Zurich); Dr. Annegret Laabs (Director, Kunstmuseum Magdeburg); Dr. Thomas Rusche (Sammlung SØR); Galila Barzilaï Hollander (Director, Aedifica SA, Paris); Knight Landesman (Publisher, Artforum International); Laura Lee Brown (Co-founder, 21c Museum Hotel, Louisville, KY); Joshua Chuang (Photography Curator, Yale University Art Gallery); Roland Wetzel (Director, Museum Tinguely, Basel); representatives from LACMA (Los Angeles) and other international institutions and guests.

Plus, GalleryLOG highlighted a dozen New York-based talents who showed at VOLTA9: Katherine Bernhardt (V1 Gallery, Copenhagen), Orly Cogan (ETHAN COHEN NEW YORK, New York), Gabriel Barcia-Colombo (Muriel Guépin Gallery, New York), John Copeland (V1 Gallery, Copenhagen), Dumitru Gorzo (SLAG Gallery, Brooklyn), Debra Hampton (Poulsen Gallery, Copenhagen), Armando Mariño (532 Gallery Thomas Jaeckel, New York), Anna Navasardian (Galerie Andreas Binder, Munich), Holton Rower (The Hole, New York), Hooper Turner (frosch&portmann, New York), Ultra Violet (Dillon Gallery, New York), and Michael Zelehoski (ETHAN COHEN NEW YORK, New York).

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