08.05.12 'ART: Diving into its pool @ PULSE' by Frank Exposito, Lookbooks

I suppose I wasn’t the only one envisioning myself on a beach this past weekend. In our preview for the seventh edition of the PULSE Contemporary Art Fair, which went on from May 3rd through the 6th, we harped about the weather anomalies occurring in New York that have had their disorienting effect on even the savviest of dressers. I myself, though admittedly not the most adaptive, still thought a corduroy blazer would do for the first gloomy day at PULSE. But, when I came to find the anomalies now inside, I was forced to reconsider my sartorial choices, abandoning restraint in a heat that emanated from the vibrancy of the work put on display, visible from far away in the spacious and inviting layout of PULSE’s interior at the Metropolitan Pavilion. Thankfully, they were also serving plenty of water.

At first, in the periphery as one walked in, Marco Breuer’s hydrating turquoise introduced itself from a corner, like a mirage suddenly appearing between desert dunes. We’ve already mentioned Melanie Willhide’s Untitled pool from 2011 that sat close by in Von Lintel’s space, its pulsing red splicing summer bodies. But, the ghost in the machine that inspired the work post computer theft and data retrieval shares more than just a saturated commonality with Breuer’s. The same mystery of process is present in his chlorinated pools that come instead in their usual Caribbean color, crisp and clear in Untitled (C-1178) of 2012. Made completely in the dark and then revealed whole in the light, Breuer carves blindly into photographic paper with the heated coils of an electric frying pan to make these pieces, cooking up an image as it were with the lights off. He innovatively conducts photography as drawing, burning the fully formed medium in vindictive purging. Instead of anticipated destruction, an artwork is born out of transitory sublimation—darkness making bright light, handwork evaporating in its luminosity like the steam rising from a pot of boiling water.

Facing Von Lintel’s was Patrick Heide Contemporary Art, a London gallery that specializes in drawing. Flanking the precise and intimate penmanship by artist Thomas Müller, the scribbles of Peter Matthews stood out for their disorder in a sequence of like images. In a conversation with Mr. Heide, we learned that these pieces were executed while the artist was in the ocean; a video playing below the set shows Matthews floating in tumbling waves equipped with only a drawing board, pens and paper. In this way, he allows lunar gravity to dictate the drawing—its dashes, circles, trailings and stains—in the shape of maritime maps that challenge the Apollonian side of Cy Twombly’s handwriting. Matthews’ results depict a deep revelation for the natural forces with the same impetus that made men sail all the way across the Atlantic to seek out the truth about their place on their planet.

The respective works of Daniel Zeller, Sam Messenger, and Larissa Nowicki scattered throughout the rest of the fair, touched upon a general theme unique to this fair over others. In different galleries, the work of these three artists beckoned close inspection, their minute details difficult to replicate without the required physical presence. Facilitated by the fair’s highway design, visitors were left with plenty of room for contemplation, often discovering works on their own instead of in a rubbernecking group. But which exit to take first? Daniel Zeller’s intricate drawings at Daniel Weinberg unconsciously unfold in underwater brain corral lobes that grew metastatically in beautiful and colorful maze-like sinewy. Sam Messenger’s, a transubstantiation of a different sort, gets its topographical, undulating texture from being soaked in river water, then frozen in snow, to be thawed and then repeated again several times. Its overlaid freehand matrix analyzes the chance occurrences of mountainous state changes like that of natural rock formation. And, the woven pages of Larissa Nowicki’s pieces at Man&Eve seem to continuously parcel and blend textile with literature in decorative paragraphs of words and master paintings, spaces between commotion coming into focus as nose meets art object. “Man & Eve is my favorite example of this art fair working,” says its director, Cornell DeWitt. “They’re a gallery that did the IMPULSE section last year, showing Larissa Nowicki who won the PULSE Prize in Miami, to now graduating onto the main section of the New York fair,” no doubt a testament to the fair’s appreciation of approachable study.

But, PULSE isn’t just for artworms. On the contrary, it takes its name from what every body can feel. When asked what makes this fair different, Mr. DeWitt, who joined PULSE in 2010, mentions, “Accessibility. It works on so many levels. We’re in the middle of the city and we have very long hours; it’s very easy for people to get here. Even the most opaque work can become accessible because the gallerists are excited to engage their visitors,” making the crowds at PULSE seem more genuine and inquisitive. “A novice collector can come into the IMPULSE section, find a drawing for five-hundred dollars and discover something new. An experienced collector can go to Nieves Fernandez along the way and find a couple of paintings by Arnulf Rainer, a Viennese early action star who hasn’t been seen in the U. S. in twenty years. I think that’s what PULSE does best, that diversity, without making it the lowest common denominator.”

Even DeWitt had been eyeing some of his favorite works. “Fred Wilson is amazing and we’re so honored to have him here. Lead Pencil Studio took three days to install that,” pointing to the wooden architectural complex that fills the entire twenty-foot tall lobby. “We didn’t know what we were going to do with the video lounge until we got this proposal by Babycastles. We thought it was perfect because we could take the PULSE PLAY name literally and make it into a video arcade.”

Open on the same weekend as Frieze and NADA, PULSE fit nicely between showmen creativity and new beginnings. “It can be intimidating to go to a fair like Frieze,” Mr. DeWitt mentioned before we were briefly interrupted by some congratulatory fanfare. “PULSE brings everything to a level that’s accessible to everybody,” a bloodline connecting interests, “from top collectors to people just getting into art.” We think it also includes those who’d like to take another look and dive right in, like you and me.

Read the original article here.