As someone who became interested in art through that unorthodox channel that is Japanese animation, I was thrilled to see a substantial representation of Japanese contemporary artists. Corey Helford Gallery, a beacon in the pop-surrealist scene, showcased, among other things, the bio-luminescent-like works of Kazuki Takamatsu, whose optical-white ethereal subjects float against a pitch-black background, and the filigree-like paintings of Yuka Sakuma, whose painting Cherry presents two little girls, wearing elaborate party dresses whose collars are made of cherry-blossom petals. Kyas Art Salon presented the works of Yoshiyasu Tamura, who, as a nod to both contemporary art and tradition, favors acrylic and gold leaf on canvas to depict female samurai clad in red kimono.
“Everything photographs so well!” is the first impression one could get after a first round of the 60 international exhibitors of the 19th edition of SCOPE New York, held at the Metropolitan Pavilion in Manhattan. The press preview allowed for close examinations of several booths, and one thing that can be said with utter confidence is that much of the art would translate well on social media. While the vivid colors that made up the majority of artworks are refreshing to see without the distortion of the iPhone camera, one could clearly see how the sleek curves of the more minimalistic works and the intricate, but harmonious details of the more elaborate ones could translate well on Instagram. Prime examples of this include Okuda San Miguel’s work, which greets you upon entering the pavilion, and combines rainbow spectrums and grayscale gradients. Further into the maze-like structure of the booths, we find Amsterdam’s Kers Gallery has created a multi-colored playground combining paintings and installations.
It was also interesting to see several works exploring the male nude in a way that defied the traditional definition of masculinity. Jan Vytiska's Twilight of the Gods depicts beautiful, yet desexualized youths in a New Objectivity-like style. Robert James Anderson has a series of acrylics on paper portraying lanky and ethereal men. Alexandria Lira’s How Far Will You Go? (Michael) plays with the reclined-nude trope, which has been associated with women and goddesses throughout the centuries.
Some works seemed like direct nods to smartphones. Nemo Jantzen, represented by Fremin Gallery, presented a series of pop art installations that are a contemporary take on pointillism. Jantzen recreates pixelated portraits of Hollywood bombshells using glass spheres, each one containing a different still or photograph. If one looks at them directly, they see a scattered jumble of medium-sized dots, while, through the camera lens, those portraits become more realistic.
The Kaplan Twins, represented by Roman Fine Art, had a series of 24”x24” canvasses that presented, in this order, a solid background, an emoji, and a phrase that became common parlance. the peach emoji, for example, is paired with a rosewood-colored background and the phrase You’re Doing Amazing, Sweetie, popularized by Kris Jenner.
Even the nod to the Me too movement became a neon hashtag, which artist Lidia Vitkovskaya layered on top of a hologram.
Overall, the works presented were pleasing to the eye, and largely abided by the aesthetic popularized by pop culture and social media. Surely, one is free to chuckle or scoff at this, but, undoubtedly, a chapter of art history is being written at SCOPE NY.