Under blue Basel skies and glimmering gold signage visible from the Swiss railway station some 200 meters away, VOLTA10
ushered in its decade edition and triumphant return to Markthalle, with a combination of swift sales and bold curatorial projects. The former is celebratory, as it is relevant and exciting to any art fair. But the latter, the proliferation of bold booths that highlighted VOLTA for what it has stood for in its 10 years in Basel -- a place for artistic discovery, via salient and challenging positions alike -- sustains it as the city on the Rhine's renowned art fair for new and emerging art for decades to come.
"We are so pleased to be back right in the centre of Basel during art week," said Artistic Director Amanda Coulson. "Looking back, our 10 year track record proves the extraordinary quality of artists and galleries that were discovered at VOLTA, but since time is always a precious asset, this is our anniversary present to our audience. The energy is right, the art works are stunning and the sales strong. What's not to like?"
The morning preview carried a flurry of activity. Along Markthalle's central thoroughfare, Ethan Cohen New York (New York) sold young Ivorian artist Aboudia's large, rose-toned figurative canvas The Change of Face immediately after doors opened. "The client saw it on the wall, and they'd seen it in the preview announcement before so it put the pressure on them," recounted Cohen. "They bought it straight away." He noted several other collectors wanted that particular painting, which was encouraging as it was Aboudia's foray into a new grander scale. Cohen clocked interest in Aboudia's other paintings from top European collectors, adding "reactions from [VOLTA10 Official Media Partner] GalleryLOG's video on Aboudia inspired interest in him and drove traffic to VOLTA." BERLONI (London) sold all five of William Bradley's small-scale neo-AbEx paintings (in the region of 17,500 Pounds total), and co-owner Robin Mann noted huge interest in Carl Randall's massive Tokyo Portrait painting, plus overall regard for the gallery's entire booth presentation. "This is the strongest booth we've done," he said. "It's coherent." "It's curated," corrected co-owner Margherita Berloni.
"This was my best first hour that I've had at an art fair," said Zavier Smith, director of CHARLIE SMITH LONDON (London). "John Stark ripped it apart, and the other boys are chipping in." Ellis moved four Stark paintings, from small-scale to monumental, to collectors around Europe and across the Atlantic, for approximately 50,000 EUR total (approximately 30,000 EUR alone for Stark's prodigious, Bosch-ian landscape The Atonement), along with several intimately scaled Sam Jackson punk portraits, plus museum interest and a reserve on Eric Manigaud's massive, macabre graphite drawings. Thanks to his booth presentation Corpus Deorum, centered around contemporary trends in cultism and worship, Ellis will curate a new version for Saatchi Gallery (London) in October. Patrick Heide, of his namesake London gallery, sold a major frosted glass and iron sculpture by veteran Dutch sculptor Reinoud Oudshoorn within the first half hour of the fair to a new client. Balancing his booth presentation of the physical and metaphysical, Heide sold multiple works on paper by Hungarian artist Kàroly Keserü (with others on reserve), along with one of Keserü's acrylic and thread paintings to the Frankel Collection (New York).
Daring and site-specific presentations dotted the Markthalle layout, from Brenna Youngblood's new work Revolver (a revolving set of salvaged doors) as centerpiece for Honor Fraser's (Los Angeles) booth project, to The Hole's (New York) chain-link curtain, veiling their process-artist suite behind a clanging curtain of locally sourced heavy metal. Owner Kathy Grayson described the installation, part of Danish artist Kasper Sonne's modus operandi, as "crossing the threshold in an art fair booth, and we've literalized that." She added that there was no desire to keep people out, "but it intensifies what you're committing to by entering the booth." Clients committed to two of Sonne's industrial paint and chemical burn paintings, both of which sold immediately, plus Grayson noted interest in Kadar Brock's abraded abstract wedges and Matthew Stone's "gestural" prints on aluminium, respectively. LARMgalleri (Copenhagen) filled their booth with a unique mode for display: three large-scale custom Wunderkammer cabinets from late Danish artist Poul Gernes, each filled with small to medium artistic treasures. Co-owner Lars Rahbek counted multiple sales before the day was up, including Gavin Turk's major true-to-scale painted bronze tyre, plus works by Morten Masri, Nicola Samori, and cross-generational Deutsche Künstler Moritz Schleime and Joseph Beuys. "People loved the presentation," said Rahbek. "We presented so many works, but the Gernes' cabinets worked really well." The cabinets themselves have generated institutional interest.
Inspired dialogue permeated the fair. Ashley Peeler of NOMAD (Brussels) fielded conversations on Congolese talent Aimé Mpane's carved and painted wood-relief portraits within a bustling booth populated by "very interesting and interested art consultants and head institutional curators." Guido Maus held court at beta pictoris gallery's (Birmingham, AL) art-historic booth and spoke to clients all day, which was anchored by sales from a selection of two decades' worth of Eugene J. Martin's elegant mixed-media "satirical abstractions". At MARC STRAUS (New York), dealer Tim Hawkinson enthused about the positive response to their four-artist booth, from Indonesian powerhouse Entang Wiharso ("they knew him from Venice [Biennale] and Hong Kong") to Native American rising star Jeffrey Gibson ("they want to know the backstory to his works"). By afternoon, the gallery had sold one of Gibson's signature intricate beaded and repurposed boxing bags for $72,000.
Both projects at the fair's entryway wings drew attention. Claudia Chaseling's site-specific mixed-media mural (presented by Galerie Kornfeld, Berlin) was executed for three extended days leading up to the fair, and the "installation painting"'s mirrored surface and vibrant tones attracted much interest. On the opposite side wall, Spencer Brownstone Gallery (New York) sold both brand-new and beguiling metal sculptures by Belgian shadow master Fred Eerdekens (range $17,000 - $23,000). Adjacent to Brownstone, Spinello Projects (Miami) cleared their entire presentation of new ink on mylar compositions from Farley Aguilar's vibrant series The Veil, noting support for and attention to the self-taught Miami-based Nicaraguan artist continues to blossom. Meanwhile, first-time exhibitor SCHEUBLEIN + BAK (Zurich) sold two editions of "philosopher of photography" Michael Reisch's untitled landscape print, pone to Fotomuseum Winterthur (Switzerland) and another to a private collector. "There is something in the air," dealer Josephine Fity (V1 Gallery, Copenhagen) commented about the overall energy in VOLTA's decade edition (and V1's seventh Basel outing with the fair). "You can't put your finger on it, but it's there."
Arne Zimmermann of Pablo's Birthday (New York) was ecstatic about selling Henrik Eiben's hefty minimalist mixed-media work Drop It! for 20,000 EUR, a brand-new work completed just last week. As well, he noted strong interest in Thorsten Brinkmann's wall works, including a collector considering purchasing the German artist's entire installation. Martin Kudlek, of his namesake Cologne gallery, sold enough works on opening day to pay for his booth and then some, including a monumental Martin Willing for approximately 20,000 EUR. "That's good for the road," he enthused. Good vibes were shared by Camilo Alvarez, owner and curator of longtime exhibitor Samsøñ (Boston), regarding their elegant presentation of all-new works. The gallery sold multiple gouache on Arches compositions by Matt Rich and clocked interest in the other three artists on view: Steve Locke, Todd Pavlisko, and Nicole Cherubini -- the former two enjoying major solo museum exhibitions at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Detroit, and the Cincinnati Art Museum, respectively, and the latter subject of an upcoming solo at the Pérez Art Museum (Miami). "It's been a big year for us," said Alvarez. "It was our 10-year anniversary for the gallery in March, and it's VOLTA's 10-year anniversary now. So of course we do it up, no slacking here!"
A stellar list of international collectors and professionals attended VOLTA10's preview, including Susan and Michael Hort (New York); Alain Servais (Brussels); Carole Server and Oliver Frankel (New York); Susan D. Goodman and Rodney Lubeznik (Chicago); Gail and Stanley Hollander (Los Angeles); Sassan Haschemi (Frankfurt am Main); Lee Weingarten (Houston); Spencer Tompkins (New York); Uli Sigg (Luzern); Thomas Rusche (Berlin); Sarah Kay (Director at White Cube, London); Joop N. A. van Caldenbough (Rotterdam); Frank Del Deo and Ben Barzune (New York); Marc and Josée Gensollen (Marseille); Stephanie and Julian Gross (The Antipodes); Catherine Cullen (New York); Todd Levin (New York); plus other distinguished and art-minded patrons.
VOLTA10 at Markthalle is located steps from Basel's main train station SBB and is five stops from Art Basel and LISTE (Tram Line 2, direction Binningen). Additionally, several underground public car parks are located within proximity to Markthalle. All travel information can be found on our website.