Art Basel (3) – Art in Basel outside Art Basel

There is a lot going on all the time, all over Basel. But there are three major points beyond the Art Basel space itself, namely Parcours in the Klingental area next to Mittlere Bridge – walking distance from the Art Basel Halls and part of Art Basel; then there is Design Miama/Basel which is in the Art Basel complex and, finally, SCOPE at Uferstrasse quite far up – or rather down – River Rhine. And if you have not experienced enough art, you may continue on Tuesday after Art Basel to visit galleries, the Kunsthalle, the Kunstmuseum and Foundation Beyeler – the latter beautifully situated in Riehen some 10 min with a tram out into the countryside. Whether or not you are interested in the exhibition at Beyeler’s you can always enjoy the wonderful collection of works in superb surroundings.

Before you leave the Fair itself for one or more of these, you may relax a  bit and enjoy the breath-taking view on the top-floor bar of the Ramada Hotel right next to Art Basel – and why not with a Campari as I did?

Campari in a glass © Jan Oberg 2013
Campari in a glass © Jan Oberg 2013

Parcours is for the larger sculptures, events, films, performances and installations in the street – and you may also visit an old barrack which is no longer used for military purposes but by artists who rent rooms as their studios. That’s actually what I visited. All of it is much less “fine” and pretentious and you may have a chat with artists, young and old.

Apart from seeing a lot of early works, sketches, and experiments, you’ll also run into the haphazard art on walls and in corridors – spontaneous works or perhaps memories of an old exhibition. I must admit, there were quite a few such pieces I liked – liked at least as much as the 100.000 dollar pieces at the quite posh Art Basel Fair.

A wall in the old military barrack © Jan Oberg 2013
A wall in the old military barrack – unknown artist © Jan Oberg 2013
Brilliant little piece on a wall © Jan Oberg 2013
Brilliant little piece on a wall – unknown artist © Jan Oberg 2013

At Design Miami you find tons of chairs, tables, bookshelves, lamps, jewellery, books, toys etc – even cars – that illustrate the development of the design world over some 70 years. I did not spend a long time there but I did stop when I saw this art “installation” of furniture by Alvar Aalto made for the Paimio Sanatorium outside Turku in Finland as far back as in 1932:

Designed by Alvar Aalto - the Paimio Sanatorium at Miami Design in Basel 2013
Designed by Alvar Aalto – the Paimio Sanatorium at Miami Design in Basel 2013

This abstracted patient’s room was exhibited by Jacksons in Stockholm/Berlin and all for sale – not cheap but then again nominated for the Unesco World Heritage…

SCOPE invites you to an even younger, more experimenting and very relaxed experience. Some of it is superb, some is surely up-and-coming, some is – well, OK, and some is delightfully kitsch-y.

SCOPE is for the galleries from around the world that cannot afford the square meter prices of Art Basel and probably also do not care about appearing as “fine art” and Gagosian-like. It’s wilder, more diverse and somehow happier. (There is an awful lot of art that takes itself so very seriously – or is presented in a manner conducive to such an attitude). SCOPE is more fun:

Sorry, didn't get the artist
Sorry, didn’t get the artist
Paul Critchley's fine three-dimensional painting that he calls "domestic"
One of Paul Critchley’s fine three-dimensional paintings all of which he calls “domestic”

Chritchley says “My paintings are, for want of a better word, domestic: they are about my surroundings which could easily be yours too; they are about daily life and they are about painting. Breathing, eating, painting.” I quite like them, as honest as can be and somewhat strange too.

Here we also find some political pieces such as Iranian Maziar Mokhtari from Esfahan who works with the idea of a whole city that has only one colour (yellow in this case) which then becomes an ideology and, thus, “a certain form of limit.” The letters “Democracy” consists of empty cartridges.

"The Yellow Apocalypse" by Maziar Mokhtari, Iran
“The Yellow Apocalypse” by Maziar Mokhtari, Iran

Well, I said kitsch…

Artist unknown to me...
Artist unknown to me…

But then next door: Sublime Japanese art photography from the Ise shrine, printed on Mino paper and going straight to your heart – Yukihito Masuura, 2008:

Ise-jingu skrine Chinjisai by Yukihito Masuura, 2008, printed on Mino paper
Ise-jingu skrine Chinjisai by Yukihito Masuura, 2008, printed on Mino paper (excerpt of larger work)

However traditional this is, printing photography on such paper is both daring and difficult.

The fourth and last post on Art Basel will deal with some pieces and artists I simply liked there – some known to me before I arrives, others new and wonderful encounters.

Would love to read your views, ideas or suggestions here

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