10 Artists We Loved at New York’s Frieze, NADA, and Independent Fairs

In between the parties and the gallery openings and the furniture fairs and the dinners and the multiple Sight Unseen launches, we somehow managed to make it to three different art fairs last month — not because we felt obligated to transform them into content, but because we find stepping outside our realm to be something of a palette cleanser. That said, our taste it art tends to run on a grooved track alongside our affinities in design, and it’s therefore unsurprising that the installations we found most rewarding often had elements of three-dimensionality or references to architecture, industrial design, domesticity, and the decorative arts. Below, find 10 of our favorite artists we discovered or became reacquainted with during our cross-disciplinary detour.

Alfie Caine & James Shaw at Cob Gallery / Independent

This cork-paneled installation by the London-based gallery Cob showcased work by one familiar face — James Shaw, turning his signature recycled HDPE plastic extrusions into household objects like chairs and sconces — and one that was unknown to me: the British artist Alfie Caine, who paints domestic scenes that look out onto fantastical, otherworldly landscapes. The patchwork cushions on Shaw’s chair are a collaboration with fashion designer Henry Zankov, who cannily deployed the mohair material he typically uses to knit sweaters.

Isabel Rower & Myoung-ae Lee at Marta Gallery / NADA

Another standout installation came courtesy of LA’s Marta Gallery, who showed paintings by Korean artist Myoung-Ae Lee (who we know best as designer Minjae Kim’s mom) paired with mono-material sculptures by Isabel Rower. Rower’s mother is the sculptor Maria Robledo, and in her work, Rower uses discarded cardboard from her and her mother’s clay orders to make the structural framework for stout lamps, vessels, and chairs. Love how the works’ cinnamon-colored, slightly worn appearance mimics the look of packing material; we were smitten with the medium-sized floor lamp and may be regretting we did not purchase it ourselves!

Kaveri Raina at Casey Kaplan Gallery / Frieze

For Casey Kaplan, the New Delhi–born, New York–based Kaveri Raina’s debuted four large-scale paintings in acrylic, graphite, and oil pastel. “Through thick fields of paint and swirling graphite, Raina intersects her own beginnings with the deep-rooted stories of heroines originating from India’s colonial and more recent histories. Densely painted silhouettes of shifting landscapes and suspended bodies carry the weight of memory, enlisting the viewer as witness to a developing story.”

Laura de Santillana at James Barron / Independent

I had never heard of the late artist Laura de Santillana before this year’s Independent fair showing with James Barron Art. But her glass works — which were displayed against a window overlooking the Hudson River — were mesmerizing. I called this out on IG too but her bio is insanely cool: “Born in Venice in 1955, Laura de Santillana studied classics and architecture before moving to New York City where she worked with the Vignelli Associates studio whilst attending the School of the Visual Arts. De Santillana went on to design art books and began designing objetcs and lamps for the family business, Venini.” (That, my friends, is what we call in the biz “burying the lede.” She’s a Venini?!)

Suki Seokyeong Kang at Tina Kim Gallery / Frieze New York

Suki Seokyeong Kang is a visual artist based in Seoul, Korea, and while I was already drawn to her work and its dovetailing with tapestry and textile design, I’m even more intrigued after reading about its relationship to music notation: “Kang appropriates the formal language of the grid used in traditional Korean musical notation as a spatial and social structuring device. The grid is translated and reproduced as standing formations in her works that balance against, hinge on, and even protrude from the wall. In her works, the sculptures in the space appear and are further activated in her videos or performances. Hwamunseok—mats used in traditional Korean court dances—produced from woven sedge by Korean craftswomen. Each of these signals the minimum space an individual is provided in society. As these notations multiply, Kang configures them into a rich visual score suggesting the possibility of a collective consciousness rooted in individual action.”

Luis Emilio Romero at Luis De Jesus Gallery / NADA

For LA’s Luis de Jesus Gallery, Guatemalan-born, New York–based artist Luis Emilio Romerohttps://www.luisdejesus.com presented canvases whose mark-making and patterning resembled the kinds of weavings that have been passed down in Romero’s community for generations. “The paintings speak powerfully to the notion of meditation, while the history of indigenous Guatemalan weaving techniques adds a complex spiritualism and peaceful involvement to his process.”

Howard Smith at Jane Lombard Gallery / Independent

At Jane Lombard Gallery at Independent, the painter Howard Smith showed vibrant staccato paintings stretched over full-sized canvases, then covered a wall of the booth with these tiny painted experiments. Or are they reproductions? Is it an amalgamation of single works or are they meant to be taken as a whole? The title of the work — Universe — offers a clue; perhaps these pieces are but stars.

Ally Rosenberg at Dio Horia Gallery / NADA

Probably the most giggle-inducing series I saw all month — and perhaps also the most gag-inducing — Better in the Flesh, by UK artist Ally Rosenberg for Dio Horia, comprised ceramic tiles and cuts of stone meant to mimic slabs of meat, like a whole chicken or a T-bone. “This collection reflects a period in the artist’s life in which he first rejected norms of his upbringing — pursuing queer relationships and embracing non-kosher meat — examining the intertwining of material, emotional, and bodily experience of psychological conditioning. Taboos of flesh merge together in a sickly-seductive melding of material pleasure.