Best Booths at the 2024 Dallas Art Fair, Where High Meets Low and Elegance Is Simplicity

The 2024 edition of the Dallas Art Fair opened to VIPs on Thursday and, while the city’s Fashion Industry Gallery was bustling, the fair did not lose the intimacy that makes it such a distinctive experience.

One of the strengths of the DAF is that art dealers frequently bring interesting, off-beat work confident in the knowledge that collectors there like to take the time to look, consider, and, in most cases, appreciate. Texas-based collectors like to stop and chat with dealers casually, as though attending a church picnic or visiting a friend’s house to cheer on the Cowboys. The high-pressure environment and frenzied activity among VIP collectors that marks Frieze or Basel’s fairs is noticeably absent in Dallas, though that isn’t to say it lacks for sales.

This year’s edition features 91 galleries from major cities like Berlin, Mexico City, New York, and, of course, Dallas itself.

Below, the seven best booths from the Dallas Art Fair, which runs through April 7.

  • Sergio Miguel at Deli Gallery

    Installation shot of Sergio Miguel
    Image Credit: Courtesy Deli Gallery

    Otherworldly paintings by the Mexican artist Sergio Miguel at Deli Gallery toe the line between art historical and ultra-contemporary. In each of the three pictures by Miguel on view in the booth a young boy, pale, clad in a dark, dour outfit, either stands next to, cuddles, or is enveloped by a wiry dragon creature. There is no sign of fear, only the malaise that comes with impending puberty and the frigid, grey seascape in the background. The works are heavily influenced by the Spanish colonial style of Casta painting seen in portraits commissioned by Spanish aristocrats, but seen through a postcolonial lens. These’s boys aren’t of the noble class, which just enhances their stature. It’s disarming, even a little unnerving, to see a child hold a monster so tenderly while looking so disenchanted, but the boys are safe. Miguel made sure of it with the pictures’ frames which he made and which feature imposing dagger-like points at each corner.

  • Kenny Nguyen at Sundaram Tagore

    Image Credit: Courtesy Sundaram Tagore Gallery

    Kenny Nguyen’s free-hanging silk and acrylic works on canvas are at once, soft, sculptural, and sensuous. When hanging from the wall they seem to billow and ripple with the gentlest of breezes though they are quite still. But they aren’t stiff. Nguyen, who was at the booth, said the works are made flat, woven on the floor. After they dry they can be sculpted on the wall.

    “To me, it’s like … our identity changing every single day,” Nguyen told ARTnews. “So why can’t a piece of art have that kind of interactive, reflective way of being in the world?”

    The texture and depth of Nguyen’s work is offset and complimented by surreal photographs by Karen Knorr. The deeply conceptual works feature animals from every genus—elegant birds, turtles, and foxes—expertly superimposed, complete with realistic shadows, into Venetian palazzos and Indian palaces. It’s an overt and somehow subtle way of engaging with the idea of otherness and how we treat those who inhabit the world around us.

  • Scott Reeder at Saenger Galería 

    a slice of toast drives a motor boat while a stick of butter rests on the deck.
    Image Credit: Courtesy Saenger Galería

    No one could be blamed for thinking that the art world takes itself far too seriously. One of the joys of the Dallas Art Fair is that it avoids traditional art world pretention while earnestly loving art. Scott Reeder’s Bread and Butter paintings at the Mexico City-based gallery Saenger Galería take that joviality to a creamy, delicious level. In one picture, a slice of toast drives a motorboat in a pristine blue sea while a stick of butter slowly melts in the sun while laid out on the deck on a beach towel. In another, a stick of butter and a slice of toasted bread gaze lovingly at each other (though they don’t have eyes) while sharing a glass of wine under a cabana as palm trees sway and, in the background, the sunset sinks deep into a gorgeous orange yellow sky.

  • Andrea Geyer at Hales 

    A geometric collage of portrait of a woman.
    Image Credit: Courtesy the artist and Hales, London and New York. Photo by JSP Art Photography.

    Two photographic collages by Andrea Geyer’s are among the best works at the fair. The images, from the artist’s Constellation series, are reimagined portraits of influential women who held salons that would go on to influence the cultural and political time the lived in. The photographs, originally taken by Harlem Renaissance photographer Carl Van Vechten, have been turned into geometric collage while retaining the immediacy and intimacy of a portrait.  The image of Nora Holt, the first black women to earn a master’s degree in music, is the most pleasing, and the most geometrically scattered of the two. Van Vechten’s patterned chunky floral backdrop adds depth to the puzzle while, in the center, Holt’s kind face radiates enough to light up a city block.

  • Kathleen Ryan at Josh Lilley

    Image Credit: Daniel Cassady

    Everything in Josh Lilley’s booth is worth a long look, from Tom Anholt’s new series of introspective, dreamlike pictures to Genesis Belanger’s stone, porcelain, wood, and steel exploration of fetishized feminine experience. But the star of the show is Kathleen Ryan’s wonderfully grotesque Bad Lemon (Shaggy), a giant decomposing lemon made of glittering gemstones from her Bad Fruit series. Lilley is presenting the work ahead of the artist’s forthcoming landmark survey exhibition Kathleen Ryan at Hamburger Kunsthalle this May. The work is disturbing in its allure and dynamic enough to spend hours studying how it looks from different angles and that way the light catches the gemstones are you move around the work. Also on view is Ryan’s play on the Vanitas painting, Bad Fruit (Old Fashioned), a limp, deflated looking orange slice made from the fender of a Volkswagen, brilliantly bejeweled, and skewered with a cherry-colored bowling ball. 

  • Rick Shaefer at Sears-Peyton Gallery

    A brown hued drawing of forest bath.
    Image Credit: Courtesy Sears-Peyton Gallery

    Inspired by the European masters of etching and landscapes like Ruisdael, van Huysum, Dürer, and Rembrandt, the large-scale Path with Two Birches and an Old Maple (2023) look is not only easy to look at but provides a wealth of experiences depending on how close you are the picture. Stand a foot or two away and lean in: you see a free, confident hand loosely playing with pencil and ink. Step back and the picture, with all its natural depth, snaps into focus. It has all the heft of a Dürer but updated with a modern scale. Also notable are the large-scale, painterly photographs and cyanotypes by Thomas Hager, which evoke the old-world mysticism of the American South.

  • Matthew Chambers at Brackett Creek Exhibitions

    A drawing of a hand holding a glass of scotch.
    Image Credit: Courtesy Brackett Creek Exhibitions

    The Dallas Art Fair’s ethos—elegant, slightly camp, profoud without pretense, and blithely relaxed—is represented in Matthew Chamber’s drawings. The works are as simple as they are beautiful, and fun to look at as well. One of the most talked about pieces at the fair was a drawing of a cowboy, riding a horse on the booth’s outer wall.

    “We had a feeling it might strike a chord here in Dallas,” one of the dealers was overheard saying at the booth. “Three people tried to buy in within the last 15 minutes, but it’s the picture of a hand with holding a glass of scotch that was the toast of the second floor. A rolled-up sleeve, a heap of gold bracelets around the delicate wrist, and vibrant red nail polish, all hint at the personality behind the hand. It isn’t a stretch to imagine it belongs to the kind of woman who is wise beyond her years, and the best person to take the middle seat at a dinner party, and great at karaoke. Underneath the drawing is scrawled the words ‘Two fingers of good scotch make the glass 1/2 full.’”

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