miart 2024 pushes the temporal and geographical boundaries of the art fair.

by | Apr 18, 2024 | Art Fair Coverage

Pauline Loeb in front of Lia Rumma Gallery at miart 2024 © Pauline Loeb 

28 countries represented at this 28th edition of miart, with nonetheless 50% of the galleries among the 178 exhibitors being Italian. This year’s theme, ‘No Time No Space,’ well conveyed the intention of artistic director Nicola Ricciardi to broaden the boundaries of the Milanese fair. A well-balanced edition that served as a perfect prelude to the Venice Biennale.
Under a magnificent sun—which made up for the 5 a.m. wakeup—I entered the vast building of Fiera Milano. The journey through the fair was beginning with the stands of emerging galleries, a rarity worth noting—and praising. It highlights innovative proposals that are often overlooked by visitors eager to see the more established galleries. The young gallery that particularly caught my attention was MATTA, co-founded by former members of the renowned Massimo de Carlo gallery. MATTA was born out of the need to build temporary spaces that generate ever-changing dialogue, confrontation, and sharing. Love that.
MATTA Maximilian Arnold

MATTA’s booth featuring a solo show of Maximilian Arnold at miart 2024 © MATTA

A little further on, it was hard to miss the stand of Lia Rumma, a gallery based in Milan and Naples, whose walls were painted in fuchsia pink. The eye was immediately drawn to three ceramic masks by Egyptian artist Wael Shawky, created in 2023, which were not without humor. Shawky has, in fact, been chosen to represent the Egyptian Pavilion at the Venice Biennale. The rest of the stand was an ode to variety, for instance, featuring a large sculpture in concrete and steel by Luca Monterastelli, a digital C-print by Vanessa Beecroft depicting a female nude whose pale skin and pose could have belonged to a Roman marble. A large iron plate inlaid with gold leaf by Gian Maria Tosatti gave the stand a beautiful raw look, which contrasted with a large steel star by Gilberto Zorio.

Wael Shawky Lia Rumma.JPG

Wael Shawky, “I am Hymns of The New Temples: Pompeii Ceramic masks”, 2023. Lia Rumma at miart 2024 © Pauline Loeb

A few dozen meters away, I spent a long time examining each work presented by Gian Enzo Sperone. There was, of course, the imposing fully worked steel bulldozer, created by the Belgian visual artist Wim Delvoye. This faced a canvas by Julian Schnabel, ‘Autobiography of an Elephant,’ made in 2010 and very representative of the artist’s organized chaos. An amusing bust of a black emperor in polychrome ceramic by Luigi Ontani adorned a corner of the stand, whose walls displayed a beautiful diversity, with works by Joseph Kosuth, Giulio Turcato, and Ai Weiwei.
Gian Enzo Sperone

Gian Enzo Sperone’s booth at miart 2024, featuring Wim Delvoye, Julian Schnabel, Luigi Ontani, etc. © Pauline Loeb

In the Established section, Galleria d’Arte Maggiore presented a diverse stand, blending modern and contemporary styles, with several still lifes and drawings by Giorgio Morandini and Felice Casorati, a large erotic photograph by Allen Jones, a leading figure in London’s pop art scene in the 1960s and 70s, a beautiful assortment of sculptures by Fausto Melotti, and at the center of the space, a garnished table all in ceramic with a twisted golden base, by Luigi Ontanio, an Italian multidisciplinary artist known as a painter, photographer, and sculptor.
Galleria d'Arte Maggiore

Galleria d’Arte Maggiore’s booth at miart 2024 featuring Luigi Ontani, Allen Jones, Roberto Sebastian Matta, Giorgio Morandini, etc. © Pauline Loeb

The Portal section

The Portal section mixed different timelines in a positive way to discuss our era, focusing on what is stable and lasting in art. Curtated by Abaseh Mirvali, an independent curator based in Los Angeles, it featured nine galleries showcasing artistic practices and worlds that may seem quite different at first but are connected. This section offered a unique perspective on the present by exploring it through parallel dimensions and unconventional viewpoints. The work of Greta Schödl (born 1929), presented by Richard Saltoun Gallery, particularly caught my attention, especially two series of 60 small canvases that had never been shown before. Schödl’s work is also featured at the Venice Biennale.
Greta Schödl at Richard Saltoun

Greta Schödl, Piccole opere (Little works).Mixed media on canvas (60 works). Each: 16.5 x 17.5 ccm. Richard Saltoun at miart 2024 © Pauline Loeb

Art Dealers Interviews

I focused on local galleries with four “1 minute in the booth” from galleries that have a space in Milan. The co-founder of Kaufmann Repetto gallery, Chiara Repetto, introduced me to a canvas full of flowers and colors, ‘Beautiful,’ by Lily van der Stokker. Pietro Rossi, one of the founders of the very young gallery MATTA, chose a small collage at their solo show dedicated to Maximilian Arnold. Wizard Gallery presented several large formats by Raúl Cordero, and Federico Luger showed me one particularly colorful piece. Finally, at Primo Marella Gallery, it was a surprising little box containing an entire miniature library with an ingenious mirror system, by Japanese artist Kenji Sugiyama, which particularly amused me and was presented by Daniele Marella.

How Much Does It Cost?

So, of course, I wanted to know the price of this work by Kenji Sugiyama. Primo Marella Gallery was asking for 18,000 USD, and I really would have liked to bring it home: I think I would never tire of looking at all the details of this library, both tiny and infinite. I was also charmed by a work in vintage leather “Wins” by Sophie Utikal, which Ebensperger Gallery was offering for 4,500 USD. There was also this moving photograph by David Hockney from 1973 from the series The History of Life in the Seventies that Galleria Giampaolo Abbondio was selling for 5,000 USD. Finally, an acrylic, ink, oil wood carving on panel by Didier William, presented at the stand of Galerie Peter Kilchmann for 110,000 USD, referenced the French-colonial past of Haiti and the Haitian Revolution.

Sum it up, I'm in a rush!

  • When? | April 12-14, 2024
  • Where? | Milan
  • Atmosphere | Chic & sharp
  • Curator’s pick | Lia Rumma
  • Featured Gallery Gem | Gian Enze Sperone, Galleria d’Arte Maggiore
  • Spotlighted Artists | Wael Shawky, Greta Schödl, Luigi Ontani
  • For Whom? | European collectors

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