Off-Basel Highlights from Miami Art Week 2023

Miami Art Week has always been about more than what's on at the convention center. This year, it was the public art that really shined.

For the hardcore art aficionados who recently descended on the 305, Miami Art Week is about much more than what’s on view at Art Basel. That explains the numerous satellite fairs and shows that went up around the city over this past weekend, from SCOPE Art Show to Untitled and Design Miami. The best pieces on view had stories to tell, be it with sculpture or painting, that cut into our current zeitgeist.

A composite image of a giant female nude and the artist who created it standing before it with arms crossed
“R-Evolution™” by Bay area artist Marco Cochrane. Photos: Lincoln Road

The major highlight this year was the public artworks and sundry projects peppered around the bustling city. Several striking large-scale sculptures, fabric-based artworks and even a monumental mural of 1,048 Miami residents captured the imaginations of passersby. Couldn’t make it? Here’s a snapshot of what you missed in Miami besides the Art Basel parties.

Miami Art Week’s standout public art

The Miami Design District is probably the buzziest area in Miami right now, and the district was full of art. French artist JR created a the aforementioned mural, The Chronicles of Miami at Superblue, which is a grand portrait of Miami residents—truly, a city in flux. The artist is said to have been inspired by Mexican muralist Diego Rivera, and this piece is part of the artist’s “Chronicles” series, where he calls upon residents to see how a city can be portrayed through art.

Andrés Reisinger stands before “Take Over Miami”. Courtesy the artist

Argentinian artist and designer Andrés Reisinger showcased a public artwork nearby, also in the Miami Design District. His piece, called Take Over Miami draped a building in pink fabric. Yes, it calls to mind a public piece by Christo and Jean Claude (like that time they wrapped the Bundestag in fabric), but this is far more millennial. Think of Reisinger as the Millennial Christo. He’s known for using pink (taking ownership of it as Reisinger Pink, something I’d like to see as a lipstick), in various artworks. It’s part of his “Take Over” series that has been everywhere from Patagonia to Japan and London. Imagine blissful buildings, homes and chalets wrapped in pink fabric and you get the dreamy idea.

SEE ALSO: Five Pieces That Stole the Show at Art Basel Miami Beach

British artist and designer Samuel Ross is known for many things, his menswear brand, A-COLD-WALL*, his collaborations with Hublot, working with the late Virgil Abloh, and running his own industrial design studio, SR_A. Now, Ross has created a series of modular park benches that bring a high design edge to the sidewalks and parks of the Miami Design District. These twelve benches are an extension of his bench-like abstract artworks, which he recently showed at the Friedman Benda Gallery in New York.

A futuristic looking white bench installed outdoors
One of the 12 ‘Ross’ benches in Miami’s Design District. Photo: Kris Tamburello

Over in Wynwood, likely the most graffiti-covered neighborhood in Miami, the Museum of Graffiti unveiled an exhibition called The Art of Hip Hop. It pays tribute to hip-hop artists and heroes like Miami rapper Uncle Luke, to graffiti artists, photographers and producers. One highlight includes an early photo of the Fugees (Wyclef Jean and Lauryn Hill) taken by Lisa Leone on a Harlem rooftop in 1993. Leone said in a recent interview that “Back then, shoots weren’t as guarded as they are now—there was a real community feeling.”

The best of Miami Art Week’s satellite fairs

The off-Basel art fairs had some of the best work by artists on the rise.

At SCOPE, Puerto Rican artist James Reyes showed a series of paintings at New York’s Ki Smith Gallery booth. His surrealism is a kind of realism, in a way, with a touch of Florida. Paintings of alligators and turtles are wrapped up in a comical style that captures movement. Meanwhile, the Moberg Gallery, based in De Moines, showcased paintings by Spanish artist Ruben Sanchez—graphic pieces that incorporate random images of snakes, hands and watermelon slices in a harmonic way. But the major highlights at SCOPE were the galleries from Seoul, including the KHJgallery, Imsoobin Gallery, Gallery I am, Gallery Tableau and Gallery EYN, which shed light on the art scene of South Korea—an up-and-coming and increasingly influential destination when it comes to fashion, culture, tattooing and the arts.

At Art Miami, the Maddox Gallery from London showcased a group exhibition featuring artists like Britain’s Nick Grindrod, who makes modular abstract paintings. One blue-hued painting called Follow The River was a must-see a highlight for its clever composition and whimsical style.

At Untitled, Cohju from Kyoto showcased the works of three Japanese artists Shinya Azuma (who makes comical, quirky paintings of everyday scenarios), Mio Yamato (who creates large-scale abstract pieces) and Takuya Otsuki, who creates minimal landscapes inspired by the history of old Japanese masterworks.

Nada, the art fair run by the New Art Dealers Alliance, showcased 150 galleries away from the South Beach chaos. Some highlights include expressive abstract paintings by Carrie Rudd at Polina Berlin, and otherworldly sculptures by Erik Dalzen on view at DIMIN.

Meanwhile, Design Miami/ kicked off with their Best of Show award winners, with London’s Gallery Fumi named as Best Gallery for their presentation of works by Voukenas Petrides, Max Lamb, Jeremy Anderson and Lukas Wegwerth.

A tall, thin sculpture made of colorful fibers
Bita Fayyazi, “Beautiful Creatures,” 2023, 121 1/4 x 17 3/8 x 11 7/8 in., weaving yarn, throw-away yarn (recycled), broken ceramics, and metal wire. © Bita Fayyazi, courtesy of the artist, Dastan Gallery, and Gagosian

Ant art world legends Jeffrey Deitch and Gagosian presented a group show called Forms in the Miami Design District, bringing together abstraction alongside figurative art. It’s what they call formalism meets something more. A few pieces that were shown include Dew by Urs Fischer, a 2023 depiction of a woman’s face in pastel hues that calls to mind cotton candy wrapped in abstract shapes. A few of the other artists shown included Tauba Auerbach, Carol Bove, Theaster Gates, Nari Ward and Albert Oehlen.

Off-Basel Highlights from Miami Art Week 2023