Walking into the New Art Dealers Alliance (NADA) fair in the former DIA Foundation building in far west Chelsea feels a bit like arriving late to a school bake sale. There’s a note of hysteria in the air, and, at first glance, a disconcerting sameness to many of the offerings that makes it hard to see what you’re looking at.
But this convergence of mostly younger dealers offers a note of authenticity hard for other fairs to match (not to mention the snazziest graphic design). And with 95 exhibitors from 17 countries, including five distinct sculpture presentations on the roof, NADA also offers the chance to scout for treasures from Vancouver to Tokyo without actually leaving Manhattan. (The stairs are intense, though; you may want to travel among the fair’s four floors by elevator.)
The sharpest booth is on the fourth floor, where ILY2 (4.14) from Portland, Oregon, is showing several drawings, a halved and apparently fly-infested clay keyboard, and a sculpture by sidony o’neal. The sculpture, a found pool ladder with steel and bronze additions, seems like a prop from a computer role-playing game come to futuristic life. Also on four Europa (4.12) has Brandon Morris’s irresistible leather-covered teapots, along with winning paintings by Brian Degraw and luxurious wooden stools by Nik Gelormino; across the aisle at Shrine (4.10), Kambel Smith’s meticulous found-cardboard homages to Acela-corridor landmarks include a wonky Lady Liberty and a New York Public Library with 3D-printed lions.
The artist Ria Bosman, in town from Ghent, Belgium, is showing a wonderful series of textile abstractions with Tatjana Pieters (3.03). Brightly colored rectangles painted over coarsely woven flax, they’re simultaneously winsome and austere. The Los Angeles-based painter Tristan Unrau skips through styles from realism to anime — but always with the same vigorous underpainting — at Sebastian Gladstone (3.08), and Embajada (2.11), a gallery based in San Juan, P.R., has curiously mesmerizing hand-stitched Reggaeton lyrics by Lulu Varona.
Obsessive drawings of hamburgers, candy corn, cactuses and trucks by Allen Yu, a young artist working through the Center for Creative Works (P21) in Philadelphia, practically glow with energy. At once hypnotic and unnerving is “Moon-Faced,” a video installation of Qajar Dynasty Persian portraits digitally rendered androgynous by Morehshin Allahyari, presented on the roof by Management, New York. (And while you’re on the roof, don’t forget to stop by the Children’s Museum of the Arts “lemonade stand” and buy an art work made by a child — or a lemonade — to support the Emergency Arts Education Fund.)
NADA New York
May 18-21, 548 West 22nd Street, Manhattan; newartdealers.org