Five Contemporary Portraits to See at AIPAD 2019

The 39th edition of AIPAD’s Photography Show opened yesterday welcoming photography lovers to view and purchase all manner of photographic art along with video and new media. This year’s incarnation of the annual art fair hosted by the Association of International Photography Art Dealers includes 90 photography dealers and galleries from 11 countries and 41 cities. Increasing expanding into photobooks, there are also over 30 book dealers, publishers, and photography organizations making an appearance this year. Photographer Alec Soth has curated this year’s special exhibition, A Room for Solace: An Exhibition of Domestic Interiors, which explores seeking domestic refuge in troubled times.

As we do each year, Don’t Take Pictures highlights five photographs by contemporary artists that caught our attention at this year’s fair. After many hours of looking at photographs, we decided to dedicate this selection to the ones that looked back. Below are five contemporary portraits to see (and be seen by) at this year’s Photography Show.

Zanele Muholi, Namhla II, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, 2016, gelatin silver print, 19 5/8 x 17 1/4 inches

Zanele Muholi

One cannot help but feel drawn into Yancey Richardson (New York, NY)’s booth by the confrontational gaze of South African artist Zanele Muholi’s self-portrait. “Namhla II, Chapel Hill, North Carolina” is from her recent series Somnyama Ngonyama (Hail the Dark Lioness) in which Muholi exaggerates the darkness of her skin tone to reclaim her blackness and challenge the dominant images of black women in the media.

Alec Soth, Anna. Kentfield, California, 2017, archival pigment print, 50 x 40 inches

Alec Soth

Weinstein Hammons Gallery (Minneapolis, MN) displays new work from Alec Soth. “Anna. Kentfield, California, 2017” is a striking large-scale portrait. The subject’s home is warm an inviting while her expression is regal and stern. The distortion from the windowpane keep us at from getting too comfortable. Soth considers this portrait a turning point in his photography, the first in his new series after a hiatus.

Beth Moon, Path of the Fox, Thy Kingdom Come, 2006/2007, platinum-palladium print

Beth Moon

Beth Moon’s portraits are inspired by a Eurasian religious belief in the animal spirit. “Path of the Fox” at Utópica (Sāo Palo, Brazil) is beautifully printed in platinum-palladium. Not a confrontational portrait, the subject’s gaze is directed off camera while our gaze is directed at the dead fox with whom we cannot engage.

Noell Oszvald, Each piece is Untitled, 2013-15, gelatin silver print, 14 x 14 inches

Noell Oszvald

Hungarian artist Noell Oszvald’s stark, geometric, black-and-white self-portraits are arresting against the red walls of Peter Fetterman Gallery (Santa Monica, CA)’s booth. Her minimal compositions use her figure as a form rather than as a character or identity, yet stir feelings of melancholy.

Rania Matar, A Girl and Her Room, 50 Photographs, 2009-11, fifty archival pigment prints, each 11 x 17 inches

Rania Matar

Robert Klein (Boston, MA)’s show-stopping exterior wall boasts a colorful arrangement of 50 photographs by Lebanese-American photographer Rania Matar. Each portrait depicts adolescent Lebanese and American girls in their bedrooms. The socio-economic and cultural differences are apparent but secondary to how the rooms become extensions of the girls’ identities. Acting as one piece, the installation cleverly mimics the arrangement of photographs found on the walls in several of the photographs.  

The Photography Show is on view at Pier 94 in New York City from April 4 through April 7, 2019.