Meet Brooklyn-based artist, curator and writer, who has written for The Observer, Artforum and Modern Painters, Ryan Steadman, one of the two masterminds behind the Code Art Fair exhibition Flat Fix. Amidst the busy planning of the fair, we sat down with Mr Steadman for a quick chat about the show’s obsession with paint, its exclusively American profile and his expectations for the brand new fair.
How did an artist from the New York art scene end up organising a show at Amager in Denmark?
This was surprising to me as well. I had become friendly with a Danish collector ever since working on the 2013 Untitled Art Fair in Miami, and he suggested me as a curator to the Code Art Fair organisers. I had previously curated a handful of gallery shows, including one at the Sotheby’s S|2 gallery in New York City, so it’s not as random as it might seem at first.
Flat Fix features only American artists, most of them locals from your hometown. Why is that?
With another exhibition at the fair focused entirely on contemporary Danish artists, I felt as if offering a range of American artists might make for an interesting counterbalance. Aside from that, I live in New York City and the art I’m most knowledgeable about usually comes from within my local scene. For instance, I brought the Brooklyn and East Hampton-based painter and art dealer Ryan Wallace on board as my co-curator rather organically. I wanted to use one of his paintings in the show, and I had already invited some artists from his gallery [Halsey McKay in East Hampton] to participate, so it just felt right to make this effort a collaboration.
Basically, the show is about the use of paint in various media. Can you tell us more about that?
There’s a freedom in art-making today that allows a painter to do anything or everything he or she wants. Ironically, this freedom can sometimes overwhelm, but to have the option to paint directly onto a movie poster, wrap denim around your painting or mix cat litter into your paint sort of sums up the reality of what it means to be a painter in 2016. I myself integrate found photos or other sundry items into my paintings, so I’m very invested in this metaphor of artistic freedom that all these paintings share—and I do see all of these artists as painters working with the traditional intricacies of the medium.
Code is an entirely new art fair. What are your expectations for the event?
Frankly, I had no idea what to expect from the fair since I’ve never been to Copenhagen, but after seeing the roster of high-quality, forward-thinking galleries Code has brought on, I can’t help but get excited about it. I’m also looking forward to hanging work at the Bella Center where the fair will take place. With its central location and airy, light-filled atmosphere, it seems like an ideal place to show artworks.
What makes Copenhagen an interesting art destination?
First of all, Copenhagen is a beautiful city and a draw all on its own. But it’s also centrally located between Germany, Amsterdam, the UK and the rest of Scandinavia. In other words, it’s an ideal place for the art lovers of northern Europe to gather for an enjoyable summer adventure.