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Highlights from Royal Poinciana Plaza: Winter 2022/2023 in the Palm Beach Galleries

Updated: Jan 28, 2023

Following our feature on The Bunker's curatorial display for 2022-2023, Artscope: Palm Beach next embarked on the programmes within Royal Poinciana Plaza, located at the heart of Palm Beach Island. The development has become an increasingly popular hub for shopping, dining and socialising in recent years, but now also home to a growing list of leading global gallery names. In October 2020, Palm Beach prepared for The Season, a period between November and May when the snowbirds flock from their chillier residences to enjoy the warmer climate. An annual tradition for wealthy East Coast dwellers, but all the more intensified that year by the lasting effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

View of Royal Poinciana Plaza, 2022. Courtesy of Ben Fink.
View of Royal Poinciana Plaza, 2022. Courtesy of Ben Fink.

With cities like Manhattan hit hard by COVID-19, those fortunate to own second homes with favourable weather and significant outside space retreated quickly once the severity of the pandemic was fully realised. As these built-up cities continued to suffer health risks and economic downturn, Palm Beach's appeal increased. Given Florida's huge financial benefits for full-time residents, such as taxless personal income and inheritance, claiming a primary residence in Palm Beach became immensely interesting. A short two hour flight from most destinations on the East Coast of the USA and no time difference to factor in meant remote working was a relatively seamless option. Where blue chip contemporary art galleries had always explored potential in Palm Beach, Sarah Gavlak had maintained a location on the island for years, autumn of 2020 signalled a more permanent commitment to the town which three years later is far from waning.

An exterior view of Lehmann Maupin in Royal Poinciana Plaza, 2022. Courtesy of Royal Poinciana Plaza.
An exterior view of Lehmann Maupin in Royal Poinciana Plaza, 2022. Courtesy of Royal Poinciana Plaza.

Palm Beach Island and West Palm Beach are now home to White Cube, Paula Cooper, Ben Browne, and most recently Kristin Hjellegjerde who will open the space formally in the spring. Artscope: Palm Beach toured the Plaza back in December, discovering an invigorating blend of more challengingly cerebral work that did not shun the energy and vibrancy of Palm Beach aesthetic taste.

  1. Nicole Wittenberg at Acquavella

New York artist Wittenberg states, “I strive to capture the sensorial emotions of particular moments and experiences in nature–chasing the feeling of being there. Less about naturalism, what I find interesting is the translation of a lived experience and sensation into an image so I can return to that moment every time I make and see a painting.” Her first solo show at Acquavella featured 22 canvases of scenes in Maine, where the artist spent lockdown during the pandemic. The subject matter no doubt will resonate with the Palm Beach audience who experienced a similar departure during this crisis, and signalled reflection within and a reliance on the power of nature in this time. Wittenberg's careful use of colour to evoke such emotion and memory is certainly relatable, presented in a similar environment.


2. Lynda Benglis at Pace Gallery

By way of signalling Benglis bronze sculpture Power Tower (2019) on the Pace booth during Art Basel Miami, the gallery hosted a solo show featuring the breadth and scope of the artist's practice. Ceramics and bronze sculpture fill the gallery, reinforcing the utterly unique approach to organic and natural form yet with a nod to the abstract in her negotiations. Seven monotype prints from the Palmetto series reinforce this exploration of abstract "folding", yet take shape as palm leaves...no doubt a winner with the Floridian gallery visitor.


3. Helen Pashgian and Kim Taek Sang at Lehmann Maupin

In a deeply engaging exercise, Lehmann Maupin hosted two adjacent shows from artists with technically differing practices who nonetheless conversed in a beautiful symbiosis. Kim Taek Sang's inspiration comes from reflections of light in the water, and his unique approach attempts to harness the effects of natural elements and where they meet. In order to embody a canvas that seemingly holds water, Kim dissolves acrylic color agents into the water, pours the solution inside a frame, and lets the diluted paint particles gravitate to the canvas that is submerged in water. As a result of this repeated practice of water-dipping and drying the canvas, the artist achieves distinctive visuality of “breathing light,” the layers of transparent colors that shine through, achieving a wholly natural conversation between forces of nature. As a pioneer of the Light and Space movement, Helen Pashgian's series of sculptures also use her artistic medium to engage light and colour, harnessing the natural light through the orbs and spheres and carefully constructing her objects to mould and shift the effect of the light for the viewer. Both artists's preoccupation with the behaviour and effects of natural elements are uniquely approached within their respective mediums, and together present a detailed and engaging journey for the viewer, who in turn may consider their relationship with light and water, both critical components of the local lifestyle.

4. Jake Clark and Konstantin Kakanias at GAVLAK Gallery

Known for her iconic approach to vibrant yet adventurous and boundary-challenging work, Sarah Gavlak has always found significant commercial success in Palm Beach, often surpassing the results of her LA gallery location. Her discerning attention to the delicate balance between colour, energy, without submitting to frivolity or "playing it safe" is a key to success in a market like Palm Beach, whose art collectors often include fastidious ex-New York cultural crowds who maintain this more elevated standard. The Jake Clark ceramics which reinforce the ongoing significance of clay in contemporary fine art practice deploy cultural iconography of colour, logo and branding which sharply reminds us of the constructs of commercialism that so dominate our societal frameworks. Kakanias’ playful yet deeply observant gouache paintings of art, fashion and celebrity culture highlight his handle on irony and the art of subtlety, positioning him as a sharp satirist of our contemporary time.


5. George Condo and Keith Haring at Sotheby's Private Gallery

In an homage to the personal and professional relationship between two of America's greatest socio-cultural practitioners of the last several decades, Sotheby's Condo and Haring acquisitions provided a mind-blowing visual experience. The show featured several of the iconic Haring figurations that wholly confront the social justice issues surrounding AIDS awareness which so drove the artist's content. Several more canvases featured more abstracted motifs in brilliant combinations of colour, expanding the visual offering and engaging more with ranges of colour to set off the bold qualities of the Condo paintings. With the majority of the works from the last several years, where Condo has moved into a deeply psychologically Cubist approach to figurative abstraction, one lone humanoid portrait stands in for an additional Condo vehicle used to confront the disappointments in human failure that has haunted the artist for decades. Despite the colour and richness of the imagery, the acknowledgement of inequality crisis surrounding American health, privilege and a bleak systems breakdown is not lost on a more discerning audience, who remember AIDS and have lived with COVID.

For information on upcoming Palm Beach programmes, please visit the gallery websites linked above, or email kate@artscopeintl.com for additional recommendations. Please follow @artscopeintl on Instagram and Twitter for more content from these shows!


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