Here’s What Happened at Art Basel 2016

“I believe in art movement and all that it represents. It tells us a story of the artist’s struggle and aspirations. This is art. Art is life. It is through their work that they can say what they want without any words.”

Art Basel Miami, the world of creative visions, beautiful colors, and innovative artistic statements, is upon us again. Artists flock here to share visual expressions in the form of satirical statements, political viewpoints, colorful graffiti walls, happy-go-lucky pieces, and my personal favorite, the discerningly dark yet humorous art.

It’s not about finding your voice at Basel. No, that’s already there. They must feed their soul by creating their visual perceptions, splashing their spirit animal across the wall, and thrusting their message right in your face. As you can tell by my words, the artistic statements are stronger, bolder, and fiercer than ever before.

Mama, I’m home…

Aqua Art

Aqua Art Miami holds an incredibly unique space — they convert hotel rooms into individual galleries. Its energetic space was a perfect balance to the breezy courtyard in the center of the hotel. Like any expressions, some work grabbed my attention more than others — mostly the ones with some twisted humor to it.

Ben Frost’s work jumped out at me before I even walked into the room. His colors were loud. Ironically, he was not. Frost is a soft-spoken being with powerful words. His message was politically incorrect, some might even say offensive, which is all the more reason I loved it.

On the walls hung frames of prescription boxes and cartoon characters reenacting their effects. There were also a few portraits scoffed at the absurdity of the “sex sells” marketing ploy. I’m sure they’re too graphic to publish so I’ll supply a visual. Cereal boxes with milk splashing about seemed to remind Frost of another, more sensual action. And that’s all I have to say about that.

As I made my way to the second floor of the hotel, I traveled back in time to my youth — a room of spray-painted trains curated by Tim Conlon.

Yes, it was as if the same graffiti that used to appear in the New York trains and featured on the back of The Source Magazine came back to life (Ah, memories!).

Can we talk about Shane Bowden? His art has a dark, twisted sense of humor. Remember Johnny Depp from the movie, Fear and Loathing? If not, watch it and note the uncanny resemblance in his drug-induced destruction displayed in Bowden’s work. Remember Snow White? If so, watch it again after looking at his version of the pristine princess.

Aqua outdid itself when I came across the art of Leonor Anthony, an artist who is clearly inspired by Jean-Michel Basquiat aka SAMO. Her art was a homage to him that clearly showed talent, gratitude, and respect for the radiant child.

The biggest highlight of this event was being reunited with one of the first artists I ever interviewed at Art Basel. Six years ago, I met Bask, and his art was an undercurrent of dark emotion. Fortunately, his work is still just as deliciously dark and anti-iconic as it was years ago.

SCOPE

SCOPE is a show everyone must experience; the artistic space is literally on the sands of South Beach. Between the view of the ocean on one end and an enormous art exhibition on the other, they practically had to turn off the lights before I would leave.

In our world today, we all need a little happiness ahead. Zoe Grace’s piece began with a simple gesture to encourage others, while she herself was going through homelessness.

Hwang Seon Tae, an artist from Korea, displayed a beautiful light installation. His pieces are subtle and reflective, which I find to be refreshing after years of seeing neon at Basel.

Prizm

Tucked away in Little Haiti is a poignant gallery that explores the impact of Africa’s cultural DNA. With it’s distinctive traditions, this exhibition showcases the influential impact that African culture has on our world. The pieces are bold and unapologetic. It’s rare to find an art fair that shares one theme. I can definitely appreciate that!

Art Basel Miami is a brilliant artistic movement. Artists present their pain, in a visual sense, and their art allows me to find myself while losing myself. As someone who spent their teenage years in a party-induced haze in Miami, this place introduced me to pain, heartache, and corruption. Returning here is as if I’m evolving full circle.

This is not a place to find your voice. It’s a visual expression to recall that you’ve always had it. You may not be the one putting it on the wall, but you’re undoubtedly a part of this collective artistic experience.

“An artists paints, draws, designs, write, sings, cook, plays, but does not turn that work into art. The audience does.”