Using a “by the people, for the people” approach, hip-hop artist and producer Swizz Beatz created an art fair that allowed featured artists the unusual chance to exhibit their work for free and pay no commission on sales. The Bacardi House in Wynwood was the setting for the new fair, called “The Dean Collection X Bacardi No Commission Art Fair.” Swizz Beatz chose a diverse group of work from known and unknown artists, ranging from oil paintings and photography to mixed media collages and unique installations. An avid art collector, Swizz Beatz is no stranger to the art scene. The fair’s opening was crowded with celebrities, including Swizz Beatz’ wife Alicia Keys, Timbaland, NAS, Wiz Khalifa, Amar’e Stoudermire and Ryan Seacrest.
Among the most highly visible works was large colorful prism installation by Gabriel Dawe. L’Etage interviewed artist Gabriel at the opening to find out more about this stunning spectrum of colors created with an intricate combination of thin sewing string.
Tell us about your work and this piece specifically.
This is part of a series of installations that I’ve been working on for the past 6 years. This one is called PLEXUS #32 and it is a site-specific installation composed of general sewing thread. The thread is stretched to create an architectural structure from floor to ceiling in a shape that looks like rays of light. I do this because I want to offer an experience. The pieces are very approachable. The work has a lot of layers and there is a link to light that represents the order in nature.
What is your experience when you watch viewers interact with your work?
It’s funny to watch people come and see the pieces because they are so amazed. The work does mess with your depth perception a bit and it becomes a dance between the viewers and the piece as they walk around it. People are drawn to it and they experience it in different ways depending on the angle they are seeing it from. Since the string is so thin, it gives the illusion that there is no string at all, and the form is created by rays of colorful light.
How did you get involved in the “No Commission” fair and the Bacardi collaboration?
Swizz Beatz saw my work online and invited me to be a part of the show. Like many others, he was intrigued by the PLEXUS series and called me to talk about Bacardi’s commitment to the art community and how this fair was about giving artists a platform where they can take back the power that has been taken away from artists by the craziness of the “art market and world.” It’s amazing that we get a space for free and we pay no commission. It’s fantastic.
Do you sell these works?
Yes, I do private commissions for corporations and I also do homes. What’s great about this work is it’s very flexible, I can make them very small or very large. I have a show coming up in the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art museum in D.C. where I will build one at 45 feet long and 20 feet high…it’s a big one. The work is always about the dialogue with space. They aren’t shipped in crates or anything like that. They are built on site.
So does that mean PLEXUS #32 will be no more once this fair is closed? Will we never get to see it again?
Exactly. Once we take it down, it becomes a relic, a pile of thread. I’ve sold those as works as well. They become organic, lose their architectural forms and become a remembrance piece of what once was.
Where can we find you?
(Click on thumbnails to enlarge pictures)