Art Basel 2014 (2) – SCOPE (A)

Compared with the main Art Basel space, SCOPE is a joy. Much less commercial, more diverse, more open space – and you can often meet the artists themselves, not only their gallerists. And there is more humour and no posh attitudes.

SCOPE is artist-driven. It is situated a good long walk up along the Rhine River’s right side well beyond the Johanitter Bridge – and with the Novartis company on the other river bank. Here you can take as many photos as you like and with any type of camera … 🙂 And – it is a rather  large building but you never get lost, it doesn’t have the labyrinth character of the Art Basel space downtown.

At SCOPE everything is less pretentious, prices are quite reasonable, there is more experimenting (and also more kitsch…) and a broader representation from around the world.



So should you go to Art Basel in the future, don’t miss this delightful space. One of those I already saw as very original and technically brilliant is Noriko Kurafuji from Japan – who is also my friend on Facebook. Here is two of her rather large oil paintings with an enigmatic strength




and beauty – wild and very disciplined at one and the same time. Here a little detail:



Her latest works have slightly stronger colours and contrasts; something new is happening, and I look forward to see Noriko’s creations next year.

Paul Critchley is another one I was interested in re-visiting since last year. He happens to be there himself and he explains his explorations of what it means to see and experiment with perspective and essential shapes. He’s done it for about 30 years and seems to never tire of it; the reason of course is that he explores every new room, idea or view in a new way – both as flat paintings and as three-dimensional paintings. Here he is in front of one of the latter.

Paul Critchley with one of his three-dimensional works. You can actually open and close the door...
Paul Critchley with one of his three-dimensional works. You can actually open and close the door…


The advantage of such a photo is that it saves me and you a lot of text. It’s obvious from the photo what it is he does and what it looks like. Over the last few years he has developed a narrative style: You are invited to construct a story out of the work or imagine what some little detail in a picture could imply. We peep into a world of mystery and emotions – why has this young woman walked out on the balcony naked? Is there somebody else in the room or at the balcony whom we don’t see?

Critchley is thoroughly inventive. Everything is his own, content as well as style. The first pictures he did was to see whether he could get all the angles and details from his father’s Citroen DS 23 into one picture (1978) – here it is from his homepage, painted when he was 18 and learned driving:



Here is what he says about this particular picture:

“I painted my first shaped picture, Plush Tourist, because in between leaving school and starting college I was learning to drive and this meant looking all around me, a 360 degree panorama was a perfect subject to draw. In this painting I tried to control the distortions in scale which I had experienced in the wide perspective drawing of the previous year where the corners of the picture were ‘filled in‘ simply because they were there – but why fill them in if they don’t feel right? This was the motivation for the irregular shape and so in order to retain the feeling for space I simply cut out those unneccesary areas. The shape is an integral part of the composition and echoes the shape of the actual car, a Citroën DS 23 – what a cool motoring car.”

I recommend that you explore Paul’s homepage or get his books. He has very illuminating texts and you also see how some of these three-dimensional works have been commissioned and fit into homes and institutions – taylor-made art without compromising any of the original intent or content.

I know of no one who explores shapes, perspectives and space with similar passion, creativity and perfection – as well as with humour. And what is more essential in the world of arts?






Would love to read your views, ideas or suggestions here

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