VOLTA — Basel’s art fair for new international positions — returns to Markthalle from June 12 – 17, 2017, concurrent with Art Basel Week and occurring within the current art season’s Grand Tour of documenta 14 (Athens/Kassel), the 57th Venice Biennale (Venice), and the fifth Skulptur Projekte Münster. Dubbed the “Lucky 13” edition by the VOLTA team, VOLTA13 underscores its mission as a globally conscious fair for artistic discovery by welcoming 70 galleries from four continents and 43 cities to Markthalle, together mounting compelling projects by artists from over 50 nations.
“My birthday is on the 13th, as is my husband’s, so it’s always been a lucky number for us,” notes VOLTA Artistic Director Amanda Coulson of the fortuitous number. “I’m looking forward to our 13th edition with the same anticipation as any significant birthday and am really excited to see the incarnation of all the proposals we received. The range is really extraordinary — from Biennale participating artists to new faces — so my feeling is the fair will be both quite energizing and educational — even a bit challenging, just like most teenagers!”
Solo presentations and dual-artist “dialogues” remain the foundation of VOLTA’s focused commentary, with 19 galleries electing to spotlight a single artist from their roster and another 21 mounting two artists in conversation. Highlights for 2017 include recent bamboo grid reliefs and sculptures bySopheap Pich (Cambodian), presented at the fair by longtime VOLTA exhibitor Tyler Rollins Fine Art(New York) and featured concurrently in Viva Arte Viva, the Central Exhibition curated by Christine Macel for this year’s Venice Biennale; a calming confessional “safe space” constructed by preeminent contemporary ink artist Peng Wei (Chinese, presented by Galerie Ora-Ora, Hong Kong), featured in the 2014 Shenzhen International Ink Biennale and a solo I Thought of You at Suzhou Museum last year; and a valiant mixed-media array by Robert Hodge (American, presented byFreight + Volume, New York), whose vivid recovery and representation of past cultural and political heroes earned him multiple solo exhibitions in his native Texas, including Destroy and Rebuild at Contemporary Art Museum Houston and Between the Devil and the Deep, which opened last month at Artpace (San Antonio). Dual-artist dialogues run the gamut from serene to visually assertive, including: emotive figurative photography and large-scale drawings, respectively, by Anastasia Khoroshilova (Russian), whose major project Starie Novosti/Old News) was a 54th Venice Biennale Official Collateral Exhibition before traveling through Switzerland, France, and elsewhere), and young Erasmus scholar Assunta Abdel Azim Mohamed (Egyptian-Austrian), together presented byHilgerBrotkunsthalle (Vienna); plus an open-ended, installation-style query on the fate of globalism considered by ART FRONT GALLERY’s (Tokyo) two Japanese artists, Shinji Ohmaki — featured in the recent Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennale and developing currently a site-specific project with Dutch curators for the 2017 Capital City Project — and creator-philosopher TODO, whose tutelage under Daniel Buren at Düssseldorf’s Akademie der Bildende Künst has led to exhibitions across Europe as well as his native Japan.
Thematic group presentations elicit a fine opportunity for galleries to engage the creative prowess indicative of their “home bases” throughout the world. Such projects at VOLTA13 include: a swan-dive into figurative surrealism by VOLTA stalwart Galerie Dukan (Paris/Leipzig), featuring several statement King Henry VIII armored bronzes by Folkert de Jong (Dutch), which were first exhibited in The Holy Land at The Hepworth Wakefield (Wakefield, UK), as well as new metaphysical paintings by Karine Rougier (Maltese), who garnered a sold out booth with the gallery at VOLTA NY 2016 and is co-representing Malta in Homo Melitensis – An Incomplete Inventory in 19 Chapters, co-curated by Raphael Vella and Bettina Hutschek for the 57th Venice Biennale. RoFa Projects (Potomac) articulates sociopolitical concerns via four artists from the gallery’s Latin America focused program: Mauricio Esquivel (El Salvadorian), who was recently inducted into the World Bank Collection, Lester Rodríguez (Honduran), fresh off his solo installation at VOLTA NY 2017, plus Erika Harrsch (Mexican) and Santiago Vélez (Colombian). Meanwhile, Kristin Hjellegjerde (London) unveils a portraiture salon featuring new works from the gallery’s international roster, including Dawit Abebe (Ethiopian), who enjoyed a major reception at VOLTA NY 2016, Juliette Mahieux Bartoli (French-Italian), Martine Poppe (Norwegian), featured in last year’s Nordic Light International Festival of Photography and subject of an upcoming residency at CCA Andratx (Mallorca), and Soheila Sokhanvari (Iranian), subject of a solo exhibition Paradise Lost at Jerwood Project Space (London) and the traveling all-female artists group show I AM, which premieres at Jordan’s National Gallery of Fine Arts (Amman) this May.
Twelve first-time VOLTA exhibitors inject fresh life-blood to the fair’s international contemporary purview. Highlights for the 2017 edition include: Carlos Carvalho Arte Contemporânea (Lisbon), channeling its photography-focused program into three artists illustrating an active landscape: Cuban-American great Anthony Goicolea plus Portuguese artists Mónica de Miranda, featured in last year’s DAK-ART Biennale and in a 2017 solo Daqui pro frente at CAIXA Cultural (Rio de Janeiro), and Carla Cabanas; Galleria Bianconi (Milan) presents Hold It Against Me, a video and photography project by dynamic Chicago artist Cheryl Pope (American) based on her performance at the gallery; Galerie T&L(Paris) spotlights two of their top emerging artists, François Malingrëy’s (French) wildly detailed and Freudian illustrative practice and Tindar (Italian), whose Migrations Project collaborates with refugees in a Calais (FR) makeshift camp; and C&K Galerie (Berlin) presents Mon(t) Liban, Said Baalbaki’s (Lebanese) interdisciplinary approach to depicting traumas and beauty of his birthplace against his present homeland of Berlin.
VOLTA was co-founded in 2005 by three dealers, Kavi Gupta (Chicago), Friedrich Loock (Berlin), and Ulrich Voges (Frankfurt am Main), and art critic Amanda Coulson.