Art Basel, Miami 2012 South Beach

If last week’s MIAMI ART BASEL 2012 was any benchmark, decadence is back with a vengeance, and Miami had the white-hot scene to prove it. The feeding-frenzy included high-profile everything—VIP openings, freaky happenings and ‘performance art’, celeb-infested night clubs, vernissages and pool-side soires; fissuring fashion pop-ups, book signings and live music sets; and psychic worlds colliding to produce a wondrous-strange art ecosystem. It was the perfect storm of art, money, marketability, Pop culture and relentless self-aggrandizement. CONTRA popped by to experience the adrenaline-addled atmosphere and eye-popping pleasures of Florida’s it-est art bazaar. Here are some of our favorite picks:

Makoto Saito (Paul Kasmin Gallery) “Milk” 2012
Hailing from Japan, Makoto Saito makes piercing pictorial supernovas that explode abstraction, court Classicism and cajole modernity. With a penchant for distortion and Neo-Baroque effects, his huge portraits of iconic cinema and film makers swell with unexpected color combinations and ghostly, swirling constellations that alter your consciousness, strain your brain and multiply surfaces before your very eyes. Wow!
Ron English (Wynwood Walls) “Abraham Lincoln-Barack Obama Fusion” 2012
We go gaga for Ron English. His work is ultra-accessible, manic and mega-cool. Much of it is colossal, controversial, and crazily colored; his surreal grandiosity (which he calls ‘Popaganda’) makes his images snap, crackle and pop. English composes clashing electric colors that no one ever mixed before—it’s as though he discovered a new musical note or rare earth element. He is a swish modern Renaissance Master and rogue outlaw who bucks the system and inspires rebellion. With a palpable aura of risqué and oodles of edginess, Ron English is an artist-insurgent role model. We love!
Parker Ito (Steve Turner Gallery/iPad Lounge) 2012
Home furnishing fans will delight in Parker Ito & Co’s techno-modernist salon (a.k.a., the iPad Lounge). Brimming with fun energy and filled with espresso- imbibing techies and art nerds sprawled out over Ito’s plush padded beanbags and decor, the lounge at UNTITLED is the fair’s deluxe, artisanal comfort zone. Chill here and experience the space’s cozy, yummy ergonomic whole; it’s an aesthetic prop-shop (complete with the snazziest Apple gadgets) that dislocates visual and spatial syntax while inducing a blissful state of homeostasis.
Holton Rower (The Hole) “Pour Paintings” 2012
These works, entitled ‘pour paintings,’ are among the most colorful, visually tangible symphonic swirls we’ve seen in a while. Stretching and morphing the pluralist strands of Neo-Expressionism, Surrealism and Synthetic Cubism beyond recognition, Rower’s centrifugal paintings are a warping hallucinatory trip, integrating proprietary techniques and manifesting an unprecedented optical torque, dizzying distortion and psychic prismatic coherence.
Veronica Lee (Gallery MPD) “Guns and Butterflies” 2012
Her illustrations and sculptures express an absurdist brand of magical realism and intriguing imagery. Lee is a master of material, craft, irony, sculptural beauty and zing, and she brilliantly channels political themes and moving metaphors through her ravishing ready-mades and hybridized décor.
Los Carpinteros (Art Public) “Güiro” 2012
Los Carpinteros are Cuban-born, Madrid-based, Marco Castillo and Dagoberto Rodriguez. Bursting with audio-visual gusto, these lords-of-organized-chaos simultaneously make theater, architecture, sculpture and fissuring fun, tapping into crafts like costume, furniture and set design, and ingeniously choreographing and improvising their ever-evolving schtick before a dazzled audience. Viva le Art Basel, Miami!

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