Volta Art Fair Ends in Basel With Great Applause

Visitors contemplating intervention by Franklin Evans at Federico Luger. Photo: Nicholas Winter Photography. Image courtesy of Federico Luger

Visitors contemplating Intervention by Franklin Evans at Federico Luger during Volta show. Photo: Nicholas Winter Photography. Image courtesy of Federico Luger

ART FAIR: Collectors brave Basel’s bad weather to make Volta 11 a success


Mark Fromm’s Faun, at Jarmuschek + Partner (Berlin) at Volta . Photo: Nicholas Winter Photography. Image courtesy of Jarmuschek + Partner

BASEL, SWITZERLAND — Rain and dodgy weather could not stop art lovers from attending Volta 11 that took place at Markthalle in Basel. From across the globe, art lovers and collectors gathered at the art event that is celebrated as the premiere destination for new, emerging, and relevant art.

Right from the opening day, it was clear that Volta 11 would attract an unprecedented crowd of art lovers, enthusiasts, and collectors. Just before VIP previews through the mid-afternoon public vernissage, quality clientele, collector, VIPs, cultural purveyors, art lover and enthusiasts, throng Volta 11 venue, ushering in a record attendance in its second consecutive year at Markthalle in Basel’s city center.

Some of the distinguished coterie of international guests seen within Markthalle during the opening of Volta 11 included Susan and Michael Hort (New York); Carole Server and Oliver Frankel (New York); Ole Faarup (Copenhagen); Jean and Tony Harrison(London); Alain Servais (Brussels); Martin Margulies (Miami); Michael and Brigitte Dyreholt (Denmark); Ulrich and Nathan Koestlin (Berlin); Daniel Desmond (New York); Blake Byrne (Los Angeles); Serge Tiroche (Jaffa) and Tracey and Phillip Riese (TGR & Associates, Brooklyn, and Vice-Chair of the Board of Trustees of El Museo del Barrio, New York) among many other notable patrons of the arts.

At this year’s Volta art fair, attendance rose by fifty – percent, and that was a reason for celebration by the organizers of this art event. But there was fear at the beginning of Volta 11 that the bad weather could dampen the spirit of the fair. This fear was eloquently expressed by Volta Artistic Director Amanda Coulson: “After the blizzard on opening day in New York, I’d be lying if I didn’t say we all greeted the morning with a certain grim resolve.”

The extreme weather was, however, unable to stop art lovers and enthusiasts that filled the exhibition halls at Volta 11. Thanks to the galleries that brought their best to the event and that is well-acknowledged by Coulson who notes that “thankfully the reputation of our galleries provided enough of a beacon in the grey weather to guide our visitors to Markthalle.

Beyond the record attendance, sales of artworks was also on the high side at this year’s event as galleries clocked record booth sales. Speaking on the achievement, Coulson could not hide her satisfaction for the remarkable sale made by galleries and artists. She notes: “We are more than pleased with the result — not only a steady flow of collectors but also really impressive sales — proving that our commitment to tightening up the show curatorial, reducing exhibitor numbers, and focusing on our core ideals has reinstated our founding position 11 years ago as a destination Basel fair.”

Galleries were key to the success of Volta 11.

When Volta was formed in 2005 as a collaboration between dealers and friends, the main objective was to provide a platform for international galleries to showcase works by young and emerging artists from around the world. In its eleventh year, Volta has remained true to its main objective, values, and spirit of presenting a conducive atmosphere where galleries, artists, and collectors can converge.

This year, like other years, galleries presented works by young artists who will no doubt take over the art scene in the next few years. Some of the artists included Batia Shani, Liz Jaff, Gail Stoicheff, Phillip K. Smith III, Greg Haberny, Koen Delaere, Johan Tahon, Anna Vogel, herman de vries Kenny Rivero, and Justin Orvis Steimer among many others. The common factor in many of the works presented by these artists at Volta 11 is that they were all innovative and daring.

Presenting innovative works that are at the same time daring has made Volta the ground for nurturing emerging artists. Volta 11 was no exception. Inside the airy splendor of Basel’s landmark venue Markthalle, situated in a key central location in the city, art collectors experienced the caliber of new art bearing salient contemporary positions within an elegant environment.

One of the artists that captivated collectors include Krištof Kintera, whose solo project Fatality of Banality with Galerie Ron Mandos (Amsterdam), was a magnet for art lovers. Another artist is Genti Korini whose luminous, geometric abstractions that reference new architecture in his native Albania at the Jecza Gallery (Timisoara), received significant attention early in fair.

Alexander Kroll’s eye-popping abstract paintings in Galerie Kornfeld stand attracted unprecedented crowds and collectors who had come to see exciting works at the art event. Alfred Kornfeld, owner of Galerie Kornfeld, Julia Prezewowsky, director and curator Quang Bao had to share duties to accommodate the crowd of collectors that throng Galerie Kornfeld’s presentations. It is not surprising that in the first hour of the opening of Volta 11, the gallery had clocked approximately $30,000 in sales.

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Galerie Kornfeld was not alone in the selling of works to collectors. Jecza Gallery (Timisoara), sold five paintings for approximately 23,000 EUR to a regular gallery client and otherwise brand-new collectors from Israel, Switzerland, and the United States, with another three paintings on reserve. Artcourt Gallery (Osaka) also made multiple sales, including for Kimura’s collaged fashion magazine spreads which many art lovers found very interesting.

For Volta 11, 69 international exhibitors assembled artist projects from all corners of the globe. The projects included works by established and emerging artists some of who have moved on to participate in major art events like the Venice Biennale.

Many of the works at Volta 11 are innovate and at some instances daring. The creative freedom exhibited by the artists is evidently the result of Volta’s ability to create a platform for artists to grow without any pressure. This approach has helped many artists grow to be part of major art events. Artists who have made their leap from Volta to the big league include Theaster Gates, Chris Johanson, Zilvinas Kempinas, Cameron Platter, Araya Rasdjarmrearnsook, and Adrian Williams who have gone on to show in prestigious events like the Venice Biennale, the Orangerie (Paris), dOCUMENTA, Art Basel’s Art Parcours and Art Unlimited.

Volta 11 was also a boost for new exhibitors who were uncertain of what to expect. With many fairs happening at the same time in Basel just as Volta 11 was going on, some of the new exhibitors had trepidation that Volta 11 might not be a good outing. Gallerist Michiko Kiyosawa of Artcourt Gallery (Osaka) expressed that fear as the art event opened when she said “We knew there are many fairs going on at the same time,” adding “so we went in with measured expectations.” Volta 11, however, exceeded all expectations not just because of sales recorded by the galleries but also because of the participation from art enthusiasts.

Coulson summed up the week succinctly:

Being at Markthalle – again – seems like we are back where we belong. VOLTA changed its face over the course of the years, due to different locations and exigencies of the economy, but the vision always remained the same. Now it all came back together again; new galleries rose to the level of expertise of our loyal galleries, who in turn were able to reap the reward of their allegiance. To receive the critical acknowledgement and to have fulfilled our expectations and beyond has been immensely satisfying.

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Aboudi, Untitled Street Kid, 2015, mixed-media on canvas, 48 x 48 inches. Image courtesy Ethan Cohen New York (New York)