“NADA has really established itself as the place to discover new artists in a relaxed, beachside environment that places an emphasis on exhibition quality presentations,” gallerist Sean Horton said of the art fair that has been an important platform for his gallery, where in the past, he’s debuted artists like Kirk Hayes and Michael Jones McKean.
Since 2006, when Horton rented a small storefront in New York City’s Lower East Side—lured by a group of galleries he admired for their do-it-yourself attitudes—the gallerist has been known for giving artists their first NYC solo shows. “I have always tried to distinguish the gallery from the trendy provincialism of New York by promoting and exhibiting an intergenerational group of artists working outside of New York, and especially in rural areas,” he says. Naturally NADA, the fair known to unveil new and underexposed art, would attract Horton’s attention, who first showed at the fair in 2007.
This year, however, Horton is taking a slightly different approach. His booth will offer a two-person presentation of works by New York artists James Hyde and Wallace Whitney, pairing Hyde’s pioneering “glass box paintings” from the late ’90s and early 2000s with Whitney’s signature, gestural abstract paintings. “It was important to me to reintroduce these two artists within the context of NADA because they both have really led the way in the field of abstraction among contemporary artists working in New York in the last 20 years,” he says, before describing, in great detail, his selection:
On James Hyde: “James Hyde is a consistently innovative painter with a mastery of diverse media and techniques. Situated at the intersection of abstraction, minimalism, and formalism, his work creates a space in which the limits and forms of painting are expanded. Employing a variety of unexpected materials borrowed from his time as a general contractor in the late 1970s, Hyde juxtaposes construction components like Styrofoam and two-by-fours with media including, but not limited to, inflatables, vinyl tape, steel, and glass boxes. Such materials and approaches, normally used in three-dimensional objects, are a part of what philosopher Christine Buci-Glucksmann identifies as Hyde’s challenge: ‘A desire to paint, to affirm painting, over and over again, as a sign, an object, a materiality or quasi-painting...’”
On Wallace Whitney: “The unmediated and improvisational quality in Wallace Whitney’s paintings likens each of them to scientific residue or psychic mementos. They serve as witnesses to the gesture, evidence of the body, and as a reaffirmation of the intrinsic materiality of painting. Whitney has inherited a strong gestural sense from artists like
Willem de Kooning and Franz Kline, yet his disarming, discordant use of color, line, and pictorial depth are evocative of Hans Hofmann or Philip Guston. The artist’s sensitivity to his immediate surroundings and landscape root the works in the moment; from the wash of LaGuardia jet traffic in the sky to the defiantly scarred street trees, flocks of noisy feral parrots, and the outcrops of Bronx bedrock coated in spray paint, Whitney folds these fragments from daily life into formally rich and poetically generous abstract pictures, exemplified by Apparatus, The Wave, and Sombrero—all three on view at NADA.”
What is Horton most looking forward to at NADA?
“Every year I seem to buy something for my personal collection from White Columns, which is always a great space for discovery. I am usually blown away by Jessica Silverman’s ambitious and seamless art fair presentations and Knowmoregames really embodies that do-it-yourself aesthetic that I was drawn to in the Lower East Side about seven or eight years ago. Another favorite colleague of mine is Zach Feuer; he was of course one of the founders of NADA and is always ahead of the curve.”