Miami and Art Basel

I first visited the great city of Miami in 2013 to see my brother Brian, who at the time was training to become a pilot. Needless to say, I fell in love with Miami. Unlike some other cities in the United States, Miami is an international city filled with Latin, Caribbean and Afro flavours. The vibrancy of the city deepens with every culture you encounter which makes your experience there all the more special. South Beach, in particular, is very art deco which is one of the reasons why it is so unique. You get an instant tropical feel from all the surrounding palm trees and the beach itself.

Once a year in December, the world descends upon Miami for Art Basel. But what exactly is Art Basel, I hear you ask! It is an international art festival that attracts the largest gathering of artists, galleries, dealers and collectors from all over the globe. It is a great way for galleries to reach the American audience. Basel also takes places in Switzerland and Hong Kong. In addition to the main Art Basel exhibition, there are several satellite fairs, private collector events and parties all around the city. Art Basel is a great way to discover new art but also appreciate historical artists such as Picasso.

Now, I am no art expert, so this is just an account of my humble experience at Art Basel Miami 2019. One of the reasons why I have developed such an appreciation for art over the years is because it is open to interpretation from the viewer. There are no right or wrong observation, only how the work makes you feel. Your interpretation of the work and its depth is subjective. In other words, you do not have to be an expert to have an equally special experience with the piece.

Majority of the works I saw were new and reflected on the world’s current climate. Some of the pieces challenged stereotypes while other pieces reinforced topical world themes from climate change to politics. I was able to visit many other Art Fairs that displayed an array of works including Untitled Miami Beach, Pulse Art Fair, Prizm, Scope, Art Miami, Design Miami and NADA. Courtesy of TAFETA gallery in London (specialising in contemporary African art), I was privileged to have a VIP pass to the main fairs.

Wynwood remains one of my favourite places to visit when in Miami simply because of its street art. Compared to modern art, street art or urban graffiti is something that anyone can get into – it feels free. The Wynwood Walls are major art statements that display murals of street art from artists around the world. The streets and galleries are truly a wonder to experience. Wynwood has its own vibe and comes to life at night, with plenty of bars, clubs and food trucks.

Beside visiting Art Fairs and galleries, there is plenty to do during Miami Art Week. From yoga on the beach to brunches and pool parties, I have listed a few spots worth checking out:

Restaurants:  • MC KitchenBeaker and GrayMeat marketLe Sirenuse at the surf clubGianni’s at the Versace MansionLeyniaMandolin Aegean BistroSantorini by Georgios

Lounge Bar: • Sugar The living room – Faena • The 1 hotelDream hotel FreehandSwan MiamiBlind Barber Le Sirenuse Champagne bar

Clubs: • The Miami EditionE11evenClub LIVCoya Taco – Wynwood has a hidden club bar • Rockwell StoryDream

Best for Pool Parties:  • Hyde Beach at SLS hotelMondrain South BeachW South BeachDelano HotelFontainebleau1 Hotel South Beach

Miami is a city of flash. People want to be seen and spare no expense. During Basel week you will find yourself rubbing shoulders with celebrities and high society. One of the great nights I had was Rum rooms sponsored by Barcadi hosted by Swizz Beats. If you are in Miami for Basel, be sure to look out for this party.

I hope to attend Art Basel 2020 if the worst of Covid-19 is behind us. I am staying positive.