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 Concha Martinez Barreto, 2019, Oil on linen, 40 x 50 cm, courtesy CHARLIE SMITH
Concha Martinez Barreto, 2019, Oil on linen, 40 x 50 cm, courtesy CHARLIE SMITH

The VOLTA New York art fair’s latest edition, its first directed by Kamiar Maleki, is hosting a focused blend of longtime returning VOLTA galleries as well as first-time exhibitors this March.
Maleki who knows a thing or two about art and especially collecting it, being the eldest son of the Iranian-born and London-based “super-collectors” Fatima and Eskandar Maleki has joined the VOLTA tribe after three years as Director of Contemporary Istanbul.
Several galleries from VOLTA’s “extended family” are returning to the new edition of the event after a few years’ absence, each contributing a compelling voice to the boutique art fair.

In two special features, coeur et art is presenting a few handpicked galleries participating in this season, complete with the galleries’ answers to five questions we exclusively devised for VOLTA New York. We kick it off with a statement by Maleki before we will be conducting an extended interview with him this summer for VOLTA Basel.

Kamiar Maleki, VOLTA Fair Director

“It truly is an exhilarating time,”

comments Kamiar Maleki, Fair Director.

“VOLTA’s new ownership by Ramsay Fairs and moving to Metropolitan West as the fair’s return to the city positions us with the wind at our backs.

We have focused the exhibitor list to a strong and diverse 50-plus galleries and have loosened up the solo-project mandate to offer participants greater liberty to stage their presentations as they would do at their home galleries.

This all results in a balanced and curated VOLTA New York fair, one built on artistic discovery, as our founders understood and as our 2020 edition attests.

I look forward to sharing it with you all.”

Kamiar Maleki, VOLTA Fair Director

Charlie Smith | London

1) Elevator pitch! Please describe to our readers the concept and feel of your booth in three sentences.

Touring from London and Frankfurt, our presentation is called ‘Black Paintings’. Including six artists who do, or can, use black solely or predominantly in their work, we will convey a gothic melancholy that the initiated will be entirely seduced by. And showing artists that work with various genre including still life, portrait and landscape, we will illustrate how contemporary painters can maintain an ongoing, affirmative dialogue with the art historical.

2) Which artist/s are your presenting this year in New York and why?

We will present a combination of British, German and Spanish painters: Emma Bennett, Florian Heinke, Sam Jackson, Concha Martinez Barreto, Alex Gene Morrison and Barry Thompson. They are all gallery artists and will demonstrate the cohesion of our programme, as well as gallery director Zavier Ellis’ curatorial position.

3) What differentiates VOLTA from other art fairs in your experience?

This will be our 15th VOLTA including New York and Basel. VOLTA has introduced us to numerous world class private collectors who continue to support our programme. Not only this, being an art fair initiated by gallerists translates into an art fair that has a unique understanding of a gallery’s requirements and expectations.

4) What is your expectation or which advantages do you see regarding the new location and the new director Kamiar Maleki?

It makes perfect sense to move from the Pier, which had logistical and aesthetic challenges. The new location is in walking distance of the Armory and suits the vibrant, boutique ethos of VOLTA. I am confident that Kamiar will make a great job of evolving VOLTA and guiding it into its next phase. He has great energy; vast and varied experience; and superb contacts.

5) If you could change something on the art market, what would it be?

I would advise collectors and journalists who only chase the big names to dig a bit deeper and also support unknown, undiscovered and underground artists

Yaw Owusu, In-Between Excapes, 2019, installation view.
Yaw Owusu, In-Between Excapes, 2019, installation view.

1957 Gallery | Accra

Elevator pitch! Please describe to our readers the concept and feel of your booth in three sentences.

We’ve got new work by Yaw Owusu for this year’s VOLTA which is a progression from his work using the Ghanaian “pesewa” coin. Reflecting on his current studies in New York, Yaw is now using US pennies in this new work to comment on capitalism in the US. These new abstract works stem from his research on slavery and its relationship with how coins are produced at the mint – we can’t wait to show you!

2) Which artist/s are your presenting this year in New York and why?

The solo booth from Yaw Owusu runs parallel with his studies at the Pratt Institute. The works reflect on his time in the US and is where he wanted the works to be publicly shown first.

3) What differentiates VOLTA from other art fairs in your experience?

This is our first time at VOLTA so we’re really excited to be involved. We have been following the fair for a number of years so we can’t wait to be included in the conversation!

4) What is your expectation or which advantages do you see regarding the new location and the new director Kamiar Maleki?

Whilst never participating before, we have always found VOLTA to be the perfect place for artistic discovery and collecting. With Kamiar now at the helm and the new location, we’re expecting really great things.

5) If you could change something on the art market, what would it be?

We’d stop the word “buzz” being used in relation to the contemporary African art market; the last few years has proved that this is a market that is here to stay! We’d love to see the continued championing of art from all corners of the world.

Paul Villinski, Wave (right), 2017, Found aluminum cans, gold leaf, wire, 60H x 144W x 7D in.
Paul Villinski, Wave (right), 2017, Found aluminum cans, gold leaf, wire, 60H x 144W x 7D in.

Jonathan Ferrara Gallery | New Orleans

1) Elevator pitch! Please describe to our readers the concept and feel of your booth in three sentences.

Paul Villinski’s conceptual and transformative, bird and butterfly installations immerse the viewer in an environment of familiar imagery constructed from unlikely materials. The works are borne in environmental activism, composed of discarded and upcycled aluminum cans and old, unwanted vinyl records. A profoundly human connection is drawn by the metamorphosis of these 3-dimensional objects as they flock and flutter across the wall and activate the space.

Paul Villinski, Mirror III, 2014, Antique carved frame, aluminum (found cans), wire, steel, flashe, 22H x 27W x 9D in.
Paul Villinski, Mirror III, 2014, Antique carved frame, aluminum (found cans), wire, steel, flashe, 22H x 27W x 9D in.

2) Which artist are your presenting this year in New York and why?

On the heels of his mid-career survey exhibition “Farther”, originating at the Taubman Museum of Art, and a recently published monograph, Paul Villinski presents seven recent sculptures and installations.

This multi-disciplinary, Long Island City-based artist has been creating studio and public works for over three decades and appears in innumerable museum, corporate and private collections worldwide. Jonathan Ferrara Gallery has extensively exhibited Villinski’s work internationally, including at Volta Basel, but this will be their first, solo, New York City collaboration and they are proud to expose these recent works to the artist’s hometown.


3) What differentiates VOLTA from other art fairs in your experience?

The solo presentation focus of VOLTA is the primary, differentiating factor from other fairs. This directive allows for a clear and concise presentation of one artist’s ideas and concepts, allowing the viewer to further understand the artist’s vision and engage with the work more intimately than if it were but one work in a booth filled with a gallery’s entire program. There is no distraction or competition of creative visions…it is a clear and concise thought, which in today’s world is becoming less and less frequent.

Burst, Paul Villinski, 2013, Found vinyl LP records, steel wire, dimensions variable.
Burst, Paul Villinski, 2013, Found vinyl LP records, steel wire, dimensions variable.

4) What is your expectation or which advantages do you see regarding the new location and the new director Kamiar Maleki?

The new location will hopefully reintegrate the fair into an already vibrant New York neighborhood where tremendous foot traffic happens daily.

And with Kam at the helm bringing his unique perspective as a collector coming from such an established international collecting family, VOLTA will hopefully be able to further establish its unique and characteristic, aesthetic position in the marketplace with the much needed commerce that both galleries and artists need and desire.

About VOLTA

VOLTA showcases contemporary positions by up-and-coming and mid-career artists with an emphasis on discovery, both for the curious newcomer and for the seasoned collector alike. By spotlighting artists through solo projects and tightly-curated presentations, VOLTA encourages exhibitors to present serious gallery shows, while refocusing the fair-going experience back on its most fundamental point: the artists and their works.

VOLTA New York

March 4 – 8, 2020 | New Location: Metropolitan West

Author: Esther Harrison