Five artists to discover at New York’s Independent Art Fair

A strong focus on overlooked and outsider art uncovers indigenous Canadian sculptures and 1980s pinhole photography

Idol, 2020, by Clementine Keith-Roach
Idol, 2020, by Clementine Keith-Roach | Image: courtesy of Clementine Keith-Roach and PPOW, New York

Independent is one of my favourite art fairs. Created by former New York gallerist Elizabeth Dee, the March event – which runs at the same time as The Armory Show – is closer to a group exhibition and draws an impressive list of galleries. This year’s fair is its fourth in Tribeca and is a perfect litmus test of contemporary art. The highlights, however, are unexpected, with a strong focus on outsider, often-overlooked and emerging

Untitled, by Bruno Schleinstein, €2,200
Untitled, by Bruno Schleinstein, €2,200 | Image: © Delmes & Zander, Cologne

Clementine Keith-Roach at PPOW, New York

Keith-Roach is a young artist originally from the UK working with ceramics. Her amphoras with protruding arms, feet or breasts are a fusion of the historic and contemporary – like something discovered in the ashes of Pompeii. Against the sea of naïve painting at the fair, these skilful, bodily objects are a welcome shift of gear.


Bruno Schleinstein at Delmes & Zander, Cologne

Schleinstein is best known as the star of Werner Herzog’s iconic 1974 film The Enigma of Kasper Hauser. His own story is no less dramatic or strange. Raised in children’s homes and psychiatric institutions in Nazi Germany, Schleinstein was only released in the mid 1950s, when he earned a living by busking with his accordion. It was during this time he started drawing. His brilliant, stylised works – often on grids  – can be violent, humorous, sad and, like the artist himself, quite unforgettable.

Kitchen [Shut-In Series], 2018-2019, by Barbara Ess, $5,500
Kitchen [Shut-In Series], 2018-2019, by Barbara Ess, $5,500 | Image: courtesy of Magenta Plains, New York

Barbara Ess at Magenta Plains, New York

Lower East Side gallery Magenta Plains has made its name as a place to discover overlooked contemporary artists. Barbara Ess, who was a fixture on the downtown NYC scene in the late ’80s and ’90s, is a perfect example. Her atmospheric photographs are made with a pinhole camera and exude a sense of the unsettled. Blur has never looked so good.

Wind, 2016, by Beau Dick
Wind, 2016, by Beau Dick | Image: courtesy of Fazakas Gallery, Vancouver

Beau Dick at Fazakas Gallery, Vancouver

The indigenous artist from Canada was one of the standout artists of the most recent Documenta fair. Sadly, Dick died while the exhibition was being made and did not see the impact his sculptural works and masks had. These objects, used in ceremonies by his Kwakwaka’wakw tribe, have ritual and spiritual, as well as political, significance.

Untitled, c1930-55, by Domingo Guccione, $6,500
Untitled, c1930-55, by Domingo Guccione, $6,500 | Image: courtesy of Ricco/Maresca Gallery, New York

Domingo Guccione at Ricco/Maresca Gallery, New York

Argentinian-Italian Domingo Guccione was a colour-blind musician who privately drew 222 powerful graphic images between 1930 and 1955, under what he described as a channelled, powerful force. There is definitely something alien about these kaleidoscopic graphite and pencil works that feel like sketches for our post-industrial future.


See also