“Fight Like a Girl,” 2019, by Yumiko Hirokawa (Courtesy of Yumiko Hirokawa)

Clio Art Fair came to Chelsea this past weekend, bringing with it 54 artists from over 20 different countries and from all over the United States. The self-styled “anti-fair” catering to independent artists focuses on moving away from everything that sucks about traditional art fairs (like how you have to basically be famous already to show your work there).

“I was looking for a new way to represent artists,” said owner and founder Alessandro Berni. He added that there’s a real need to create a space where emerging and unsigned artists can display their work, network and ultimately make sales, instead of just standing next to their art all day for free.

Bedford + Bowery spoke with four of the fair’s up-and-coming, independent artists about their backgrounds, inspiration and artistic processes.

“Women’s March,” 2017, by Yumiko Hirokawa (Courtesy of the artist)

Yumiko Hirokawa
Kanagawa, Japan
Yumiko Hirokawa says her career started after 9/11, when she painted a mural with her class while studying art in Washington D.C. Since then, she has created politically-charged art, like the Women’s March collection she is currently exhibiting at the fair. Hirokawa seeks to deepen the conversation around the political moments she recreates. “I didn’t understand why American people wanted to have demonstrations after Trump was elected,” she said. “After the Women’s March, I understood everything. It was so moving.”

Hirokawa uses aluminum leaf, acrylic paint and pens to create her multi-layered pieces. “I’ve been told the colors in these pieces look like cherry blossoms,” she said. “Maybe I was influenced by Japan since I’m from there.” 

“Chicken in the City” by Nelus du Toit

Marie Donchevskaya, Nelus Du Toit
Munich, Germany
Munich-based photographers Marie Donchevskaya and Nelus Du Toit come together to show their project Two Worlds-One City for it’s fourth exhibition. The project was originally conceived in the Big Apple, and has since been presented at the Russian Academy of Arts, at an exhibition in Munich and at the Venice Biennale. Now, the collection comes full-circle, back to New York City. 

“It’s called Two Worlds-One City because we are from two very different worlds and came together in one city,” said Nelus Du Toit, a native of South Africa. His partner, Marie Donchevskaya, is originally from Russia.

The duo’s work plays with motion and light, mixing photography with elements of fine art. They spent time in different areas of the same cities, east and west, to capture the metropolises from two different lenses. 

Alan Streck

Alan Strack
Brooklyn, New York
Formerly an art director at Nike, Strack quit his corporate job a little over a year ago to create art full time, using film and custom-created LED light boxes.

Strack’s grandparents owned one of the first drive-in movie theaters in the United States, as well as three standalone theaters in upstate New York. When they passed away, the film from the theaters was going to be thrown out but Strack salvaged it, looking for a project that could use the over 3,000 reels of film.

What he came up with is a visual experience. Strack cuts and arranges the pieces of film, layers them over LED light boxes and frames them. From far away, the pieces look like vibrant, abstract patterns. Upon closer inspection, you can see that each section is one frame of a movie or movie trailer. Experiencing the pieces is a multi-step process, encouraging the viewer to take a moment to discover and explore every aspect of the work.

“I just am trying to pay respect to my grandparents,” Strack said. “What better way for me to honor their legacy than to take something that was literally being thrown in the garbage and bringing it to life in a new way?”

Paul Darragh

Paul Darragh
Matamata, New Zealand
A former motion graphic designer, Paul Darragh takes digital design aspects and mixes them with pop art to create dynamic, sometimes metaphysical pieces. The collection on display at Clio Art fair is heavily interested in portals and motion, engaging in the viewer’s perception of time and space. 

Darragh’s work is sometimes focused on environmental and political conversations, featuring titles like “Toxicity Report” and “Carbon Emissions.” Other times, Darragh makes comments on philosophical ideas, like in “Time Waits for No Man.”

“My work plays a little with surrealism, and I like the idea of characterizing these graphic elements,” he said, encouraging viewers to put themselves in the place of one element of each piece.

Correction, Oct. 16: Yumiko Hirokawa’s name was misspelled in a previous version of this post.