The First Art Newspaper on the Net   Established in 1996 Friday, January 15, 2021

VOLTA opens its 15th Basel fair
Jean de Malherbe, left, director of Galerie La Forest Divonne, Paris/Brussels, and artist David Décamp, in conversation around the artist’s solo installation.

BASEL.- VOLTA opened its 15th Basel fair on Monday with the mature triumvirate of quality: the artworks on view, the guests in attendance, and the sales recorded. Returning to Elsässerstrasse 215 for its second consecutive edition, near the Voltaplatz neighborhood and site of the inaugural VOLTAshow in 2005, VOLTA welcomed 1,800 visitors, retaining and reasserting its position as Basel’s destination for new international art.

“I’m especially thrilled at this year's fair, for a number of reasons, the first of which is that making it to 15 with this stellar turnout is extremely gratifying. We're still here—against many predictions—and stronger than ever, even after the unfortunate events surrounding our New York edition, which simply affirms how much trust there is in our brand from our gallerists, artists, and collectors” stated Artistic Director and co-founder Amanda Coulson. “Last year the new Basel location was perhaps intimidating for some, but the success of the move to our original neighbourhood calmed nerves and resulted in an extremely strong roster of galleries this year showing great work. This was reflected in the frenzy we saw today, which was almost reminiscent of times when the market was high. Increased familiarity with the new location has also allowed us to tweak it, so the flow is intuitive and enjoyable. Overall, it's a real high point in the inevitable ups-and-downs over the years and the view looks pretty good from here.”

“We’ve had a very very good start — a great start even,” noted Mark Hachem, owner of his namesake Paris and Beirut galleries, in their Basel debut. “We sold three works, by Bastiani and Philippe Hiquily, within the first hour of the fair, two of those going to new clients.” The gallery met serious collectors with serious options throughout the day, including interest in Venezuelan kinetic art pioneer Jesus Rafael Soto’s key work, Maquette de la sphère Lutetia. “We haven’t sat down for a minute today, and don’t get me wrong, I like it this way!” Across the aisle at Zahorian & Van Espen (Bratislava/Prague), dealers Jozef Zahorian and Silvia Van Espen recorded several sales of Viktorie Langer’s new paintings within the opening hour, as well as interest in the other booth artists, all emerging Czech and Slovakian artists. “Collectors are really courageous and they have confidence,” said Zahorian. “It has been a superb start for us, absolutely amazing.” Alessandro Casciaro (Bolzano) sold a statement mixed media work by Robert Pan (20,000 EUR) to a new client and recorded considerable interest for him and for Santiago Reyes Villaveces. Casciaro commented, “Last year, I spoke a lot of English, and this year I find I am speaking a lot of German. The Swiss collectors, the Germans, they have come out in full force. It’s important to have a good start to the week and we are very happy.” By now a VOLTA veteran, with four consecutive Basel fairs under their belt, Galerie Thomas Fuchs (Stuttgart) received nearly nonstop attention on day one. “Best opening day ever!” said dealers Fuchs and Andreas Pucher, as they counted off sales from their four booth artists: two paintings by Rainer Fetting (16,300 – 32,600 EUR), a large Ruprecht von Kaufmann (17,700 EUR) plus five others, one from Rudy Cremonini, and six paintings by Jochen Hein (range 12,000 – 20,000 EUR). “We sold to strong collectors who we knew as well as to new great people, from Switzerland, Denmark, Germany, and all over,” said Pucher. “It’s been a rush all the time. An outstanding beginning – we’re happy to sell from all four artists, including our Rainer Fetting debut in Basel. We are totally happy.”

“I am very pleased with VOLTA,” said Jasmin Kossenjans, owner of JanKossen Contemporary (New York). “The selection process, the family atmosphere, this is is really nice – people are working together, the fair is comfortable, welcoming, it’s all good for us.” She noted three sales of Keun Woo Lee’s porcelain works and another for Harald Schmitz-Schmelzer. A first-time Basel exhibitor, Galleri KANT (Copenhagen) recorded great interest for works of Fabian Treiber in all sizes and sold several already. “People are impressed by the imagery itself, its warmth, as well as the technical aspect, as they can’t wrap their head around how he’s made them,” noted Kerry Harm Nielsen, gallery director, to Treiber’s solo presentation. “This dialogue opens up the work, and yet while it’s super classical (still-life, Matisse), it’s new and fresh – people can relate to it in a historical context as well as to its freshness.” Likewise in their first Basel fair, Gallery Shukado (Tokyo) recorded particular interest to key edition works of Yayoi Kusama and sold from prominent neo-Nihonga artist Yasunari Ikenaga. “We sold from the high-end of price at that, which is a good thing,” noted gallery associate Yuzuki Furukawa. “As well, all our sales today have been to new clients in Basel, and it is our pleasure to place works with people living here.” In the early hours, Burning In Water’s (New York) Basel debut proved especially fruitful, as they had moved three works from Valerie Hegarty’s solo project to the 21c Museum (Louisville, USA). “Valerie’s works have a lot of ‘wall power’,” commented Dr. Barry T. Malin, gallery owner. “This is her first time to show in Europe, and I like showing the works here. Valerie’s Dutch tulip references and vanitas tradition, they feel resonant in Basel.”

Returning and longtime Basel exhibitors enjoyed success on opening day. Martin Asbæk Gallery (Copenhagen) sold the largest Kristian Dahlgaard bronze sculpture on view to a Finnish client, plus several Jacob Stangerup compositions to buyers in Basel and Stockholm. YOD Gallery (Osaka) sold multiple works from Hidehito Matsubara and Stitch Dog to collectors from the gallery’s growing client base, after several successful showings in Basel, as well as several works from marble sculptor Hiroyoshi Asaka’s debut. Le Salon Vert (Carouge) sold one painting by Stéphane Erouane Dumas five delicate leaf and thread sculptures by Susanna Bauer to both returning clients and new people. Dumas, who was present during the opening, said, “I’m very happy; the public here is cosmopolitan, which is good for the artist and for the gallery.” Daniela Barbieri, co-director of The Flat – Massimo Carasi (Milan), a stalwart VOLTA gallery for nearly a decade, found this year’s edition “a good impression, as we’ve sold works from several of our artists already, including Paolo Cavinato and Matthew Allen.” Barbieri added they have been receiving clients developed through VOLTA over the years. Guido Maus, owner of Maus Contemporary (Birmingham, USA), noted “very strong sales both to European and American collectors, as well as an extremely well visited opening day, in both quality and quantity of guests.” His statement stand, featuring a cross-generational dialogue between masters Léopold Plomteux and Yoshishige Furukawa, with contemporary rising stars Mafalda Figueiredo and Felix Becker, commanded attention all day long, with artist Figueiredo present to further engage guests. Patrick Heide Contemporary Art (London) sold multiple works by Sophie Bouvier Ausländer and Isabel Albrecht, including to the Frankel Collection (Detroit), as well as interest for all booth artists. Within the of the ground level’s central squares, Zavier Ellis, director of Charlie Smith London, placed multiple Tom Butler works to a new client from Singapore, plus a Barry Thompson to a top Basel collector he had met at a previous VOLTA fair. Across the aisle, VOLTA veteran Galerie Heike Strelow (Frankfurt am Main) placed 10 paintings by Venezuelan rising star Starsky Brines within the first hour of the fair, to collectors from United Kingdom, Belgium, and Switzerland, followed by several more of his new works as the day progressed. Strelow recorded sales of two statement 3D folded mirror and metal works by Winter/Hörbelt as well. “We’re back and we’re very happy,” she said.

“I think solo format is the way to go – it’s so important,” noted Jean de Malherbe, director of Galerie La Forest Divonne, of their solo project of interdisciplinary artist David Décamp. “Some visitors have been put off by the bones,” he gestured to Frog Legs, a large sculptural diorama featuring a massive resin bowl filled with the namesake bones, “But that’s the artist’s intent, to engage us and to remind us that we must change our overconsumption ways.” In their Basel debut, SFA Projects (New York) received “great and inquisitive collectors – people are spending time with the work and we have received an overwhelmingly positive reaction.” Dealer Keith Schweitzer placed popular Thai artist Attasit Pokpong’s new painting The Blue Hair with a new client from Belgium. Luisa Catucci, owner of her namesake Berlin gallery, noted she had sold from each artist on view — Kenneth Blom’s paintings, Manuela Toselli’s silk and metal sculptures, and Aqua Aura’s large-scale photography – “which is super lovely, of course, and the works, especially Toselli’s, are generating even more interest.” Isabella Sedeka enjoyed considerable attention for her solo selection of oxidized paintings with X-Pinky Lab (Berlin), selling nine works to old and new clients. “I’ve had a busy day – I eaten nothing and barely drank, but I’ve sold! Today was a huge success.” Likewise in their Basel debut, Bechter Kastowsky Galerie (Vienna) placed five works by Aurelia Gratzer to all new clients, while receiving much interest in her and her statement Swiss kindred, Liliane Tomasko. Paul Stolper Gallery (London) received “many happy people, who love the work,” in their statement solo project of discreet music and art pioneer Brian Eno. “People know him as a musician, naturally,” said Stolper, “and then the make the connection, between sound and light. It’s really quite great.” The gallery had placed five works within the early day. “Today I have met many international artists and collectors, and it’s been encouraging and fun to see how they engage with the work – crazy!” recounted Cristina BanBan, the rising Spanish star enjoying her solo debut in Basel with 1969 Gallery (New York), following her Berlin solo debut this past spring, and her New York solo debut at 1969 this past winter. Quang Bao, gallery owner, recorded several sales of BanBan’s brand-new works during the preview hours (range of $6,400 for her new portrait style, to $14,500 for the larger paintings), to buyers in Copenhagen, New York, and Vienna. “We came to be surprised by the reactions of buyers, fellow gallerists, and peer artists. It all happened very quickly, but after two hours we were ecstatic,” said Bao. “We’re sold out.”

A distinguished and discerning contingent of Guests of Honor visited VOLTA Basel during the Preview, including: Susan and Michael Hort (New York); Carole Server (New York); Ole Faarup (Copenhagen); Alain Servais (Brussels); Uli Sigg (Switzerland); Tony and Jean Harrison (London/Basel); Dieter Meier (Vienna); Ulrich Kostlin (Berlin); Goran Ghran (Stockholm); Bo Ahlstrand (Stockholm); Walter Tambke (Copenhagen); Rodica Seward (Tajan Auction House, Paris); Raija Koli (Director, Frame Contemporary Art Finland); Laura Boxberg (Communications, Frame Contemporary Art Finland); James Brett (Founder, Museum of Everything, London); plus many other gallerist colleagues, art lovers, and guests.

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