Each year, I attend the Master Drawings fair I discover artists I had not known before. And I find them completely worth knowing for the subtlety of their hand, the finesse of their depictions, what they choose to turn their attention to, and their clear devotion to the subjects they take up. I find a kind of earnest seeing and translation in this work. And while the fair features paintings, drawings, watercolors, and sculptures from the 14th to the 21st centuries, this time I focused most on the drawings and watercolors, and found some especially lovely ones.
One of the first galleries I visited was Cade Tompkins Projects which was ensconced in the depths of the Pierre Hotel, which I only found by having the maître d’ guide me there. It was worth the initial disorientation to find Allison Bianco’s work “Gaspee Down the Line” (2020) which depicts a fantastical beach scene with waves pitched up to look like watery pinnacles and extravagant, prodigal visual elements that I wouldn’t think would belong in such a vista. Bianco’s placed a line of chartreuse like an errant bolt of lightning, a neon pink hill in the distance and few bananas tossed in the air as a kind of inside joke that has something to do with the artist and her siblings playing a prank on their grandmother.
Dean Richardson’s “Looking for Crazy Horse 5” is part of a series of works portraying Indigenous people, most of which place individuals in a landscape, but here Richardson hones in on one key figure, a Lakota leader of the Oglala band in the 19th century known for his bravery in fighting to preserve his people’s lives and livelihoods in the face of military colonization. I like that the washy colors and indeterminate figuration make the person inscrutable. It would have been a cliché move to give him a determinedly heroic presentation, but here I see a figure who is difficult to ascertain, shrouded by legend and myth and the passage of time.