Scope's Dark and Playful Week at the Beach | BLOUIN ARTINFO
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Scope's Dark and Playful Week at the Beach

Peter Gronquist's “Self-Portrait” at ArtNow NY
(Courtesy ArtNow NY)

Whether or not Scope’s new oceanfront location in a tent on South Beach is an entirely good thing may be up for debate—certainly some beachgoers wandering by this week have seemed perplexed by its presence. But what was not in question was the strong program of contemporary art inside, ranging from emerging artists to more established if still lesser-known names.

At Norway’s Gallery Ramfjord, Danish artist Peter Ravn’s dark but witty paintings exploring the interior life of apparently serious-minded men in business suits were on sale for very approachable prices starting at about $4,000. German painter Gabriel Schmitz, in the same booth, presented stark paintings of gaunt, contemplative women.

Melbourne’s Beam Contemporary, focused on an “archive” theme, was showing a series of seven side-by-side paintings by Karla Marchesi. These quiet but engaging works in something approaching an Old Master style depict the artist’s bath towel, draped and folded in various positions, over seven consecutive days.

Austrian street artist Nychos’s paintings of cross-sectioned animals, including rabbits and ducks, were drawing a lot of interest at Brooklyn’s Mighty Tanaka gallery on Wednesday, in part because the artist currently has two murals on display in Miami’s Wynwood Art District. Priced at under $10,000, the paintings manage to maintain a somewhat playful air despite their visceral subject matter.

By Wednesday, two days into the fair, T+Karpio Projects of Miami Beach and New York had sold 10 works by Cuban artist René Francisco Rodriguez, whose colorful, richly textured paintings of crowds suggest a modern day Seurat, at prices ranging from about $7,000 to $55,000, according to gallery’s Olenka Castro.

Another standout work—one that’s hard to miss, in fact—is Peter Gronquist’s 2013 installation “Self-Portrait,” at Brooklyn’s ArtNow NY. An effigy of the artist is suspended in midair after apparently being catapulted through the windshield of an actual car by the force of a head-on collision with a deer. A Converse sneaker has been knocked off one of his feet, and shards of glass hang ominously around him on strings. Gronquist explained that the project took months to complete, and involved finding the old car on Craigslist and discovering the difficulty of smashing it up (he showed ARTINFO footage of slamming it into a tree). Gronquist said the idea of depicting a crash as a self-portrait came to him in a near dream state several years ago, and is reminiscent of the way the creative process feels sometimes. The asking price on the work is $150,000.