From Lausanne to Miami: Exploring Real And Virtual Artworlds

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From Lausanne to Miami: Exploring Real And Virtual Artworlds

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Art advisor Sab Cosmic has been immersed in the art landscape for the last 30 years. She began her career in London, then New York, Mexico, and Paris. Now based in Switzerland, she is delighted to be writing for Happy Ali.

If we have learned anything during this pandemic, it is that we need to embrace what we have in front of us. For most, it is impossible to travel to the major art fairs and exhibitions in Miami, Hong Kong, Basel, Paris, London… so we have to look closer to home.

For me, that means Lausanne is a small, beautiful city on the Geneva Lake, but it offers major art shows and has some of the best museum exhibits, art schools like Ecal and now a great new gallery, the  Fabienne Levy Gallery. Fabienne and I go way back: I met her at all the art fairs, auctions and museums; we were in New York together at the same time.   I always admired her for her passion for art.

Today, Fabienne wants to educate people through the artists she represents: younger artists who have decided to talk about the issues of our contemporary world and who speak through their content. Based at the train station near the newly-constructed contemporary art museum Platform 10, this new gallery offers real insights into what contemporary artists are experiencing during these difficult times.  It is a real art experience programme where art is returned to its place: art religion for its own sake. Pure.  

Norbert Bisky, vue d’exposition, 2020, Galerie Fabienne Levy, Lausanne

Fabienne’s gallery is currently showing in the exhibition UNREST, the luminous paintings of Nobert Bisky,  a  sensual revolutionary figurative artist of the 21st century from Berlin. His works are like an electric shock of exuberant colour and motion and this is his first solo show in Lausanne.  His works trigger questions about our fragile equilibrium in the world. Born in Leipzig in 1970, Bisky portrays his political ideas with sensuous beauty.

Norbert Bisky, vue d’exposition, 2020, Galerie Fabienne Levy, Lausanne

By mixing the neon colours of the digital age with fragments of text, he challenges us to question society. His images combine the intertwining of communism, religion and state, influenced, as he was by his youth in the former East Germany and the fall of the Berlin Wall. His experiments with breaking down forms and with blocks of colour place him on the borderline of abstract art as well as figurative art.

Again, there are advantages to this COVID pandemic: I am alone in a beautiful gallery — I can enjoy the paintings in peace and quiet, just a few minutes away from my home.

Norbert Bisky, vue d’exposition, 2020, Galerie Fabienne Levy, Lausanne

So, thanks to COVID, local art is back! I shall always remember the first opening with a stunning neon artist Andrea Galvani with lightbulbs everywhere showing the complexity of our existence.   Fabienne chooses artists with excellent messages; intellectual works with a message about our contemporary world. Education is her leitmotiv.  I love that! Art is about content, not about the art world. She is a real art lover, collector and her challenge is to choose engaged artists to represent our elevated consciousness in the arts.

Tonight, in front of my computer, I shall see further works by Norbert Bisky at Miami Art online at the Galerie Templon.  I love this new art tool that allows me to discover 3,000 artists in five days. I really do enjoy it! Instead of running into my colleagues everywhere at the physical art fairs, and getting intoxicated with art, I simply discover art where I live, in the quiet of my own home, in my own time. It makes me think that COVID has definite advantages. It makes you focus on what is here.

For one month starting now, Lausanne Lumières is projecting young contemporary artists from Ecal and from other art institutions. A winter light show that makes us dream of a better place. Now, I am walking outside watching the wonderful art installations. A contrast of temperature but the feeling of immersion in the art is here.  In Lausanne —  and I can experience an art illumination show at night for one month.  I feel like I’m in paradise. I walk through Lausanne with magnificent projections of the new generation of artists. 

Lausanne Lumière in Riponne

At night, Lausanne Lumières engages the entire city with a projection of 15 artists from ECAL: eight luminous installations with 30 young artists.  Flowing colours, concepts, architectures. Every location is highlighted by brilliant 3D artists. An immersion of dreams coming out of walls.

The magnificent Lausanne cathedral lit up with the artist’s projection

The idea of having our ideas in public spaces reminds me of Wynwood Walls in Miami.  I  love the open museums.  The art for everybody. Flowing images and poetic figures allow you to dream of a Utopian city that wakes up at night.  Every night for a month. 

This reminds me that normally, I would be running around in Wynwood Miami for numerous art events. But this year, the Convention Center has been transformed into a COVID Center. The art world’s biggest transformation has happened!  We are ready for a new world of infinite possibilities as Damien Hirst said. And the art world is embracing change too. It is a virtual tool of the virtual for fairs for professionals.  I could never have attended the panel discussion about the Hybrid Model for the Art World with talented curators, journalists, artists from all over the world. 

Wynwood Miami. Image via Seb Cosmic

The only things I really miss in Miami are the museums and the breakfasts at collectors! Miami is a real contemporary hub.  Miami is a buoyant city with a real cultural platform that gathers amazing important collectors and talented young artists.  Miami is the epicentre for positive energies and creation. All the artists gather there during the winter.  A very exciting scene.  They work outside in the streets; Miami for me is Wynwood and his open-air graffiti museum.  Miami is a Design District with Craig Robbins with whom I collaborated 20 years earlier in an exhibition I organized at Dacra. Miami developed incredibly in 20 years.  Eight museums opened there, private and public. Lots of new collections opening their own private museums in Wynwood and now Alapattah. 

I miss not seeing art for real, but over the years, art fairs became a circus and attracted too many people.  Too many art fairs, too many locations, too many artists.  Too many superficial people at the end. No time for the art, just the performance. I remember this global camaraderie we had during that week in Art Basel in Basel. In Miami, the crowd is different.  It is a social thing to walk through on opening night with a new Prada outfit and pass out your business card.

Wynwood Miami. Image via Seb Cosmic

The artworld has changed a lot socially. I had fantastic times in Miami Art Basel; I remember the LIu Bolin event with Ruinart. Fun events with flowing champagne.  I remember the best art breakfast days in private collections. Every year there is a new museum created by amazing architects and private collectors. Last year, the Rubell collector launched a private museum in Allapattah with a very fancy party. Christian Dior and all the fancy rappers last year.  The best time to see good art in amazing warehouses. Miami Art Basel was so vibrant during that December month.  The city transforms itself into New York from the South. And I’ve been attending it since 1995. 

I met Keanu Reeves and saw Brad Pitt in the aisles and Pharell and Elle Macpherson. A real star system. But over the years, I tried not to kill myself going to all the satellite fairs.  I mostly stuck to the Convention Center Scope and museums.  I have seen the most magical art shows in Miami. Like the Bass Museum with Ugo Rondinone but also Michaelen Thomas with her discotheque room.  Site-specific installations with music from the 80s. Vibrant messages.  I love the Miami art scene.  The local scene.  In five years, they built the ICA and Perez Museum.  In the winter I often stay there. To embrace the sunny positive energies.  For me, Miami has a huge potential.

In the online interviews with curators, they discussed the possibility of developing a Hybrid system to regain that spirit of camaraderie in the artworld, with galleries moving together in small committees to show their art in Long Island. We need this collaborative system and we will have to see how we can work in different ways as the pandemic has triggered a more local perspective.

“The Margulies Collection at the Warehouse” from Margulies Collection on Vimeo

I think of my friend, renowned collector Martin Z. Margulies who is alone in his Warehouse.  Normally he would be hosting 6,000 visitors during Art Basel Miami. This year he welcomed less than seven.  His is a non-profit institution located in a 50,000 square foot retro-fitted warehouse in the Wynwood Arts District of Miami. The Warehouse presents seasonal exhibitions from his collection as well as educational programmes, and special exhibitions and an international loan programme.

Let’s hope that the New Year brings us health, happiness and more art — both virtually and in reality.

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