Art Basel Miami 2015

Art Basel Miami 2015

Hassan Sharif’s “Ladies and Gentlemen”-Arnab Kar Photography

MIAMI, United States — Art Basel was born in 1970 from an art fair of three galleries in Basel, Switzerland. Now it has morphed into one of the world’s most prestigious art shows staged annually in Basel, Hong Kong and Miami Beach. Up and coming and well established artists from all over the world come together to exhibit their latest work. It is estimated that Art Basel Miami Beach 2015, held during the first week of December, at the Miami Beach Convention Center and several satellite locations around the city, drew more than 70,000 visitors from all over the world. I was fortunate to visit the main venue, Miami Beach Convention Center and one of the satellite venues, Spectrum, located in the Arts & Entertainment District, nested between midtown and downtown Miami.

Being a photographer myself, I naturally gravitated more towards photography exhibits and was very lucky to interview two talented photographers attending the exhibition. My first interview was with Miami’s celebrity fashion photographer Natasha Kertes. Natasha, who was born in Russia and is a Miami native, graduated from the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale with the best portfolio award and has since been known internationally for her work in fine-art portraits. My second interview was with the talented artist and photographer Zoë Marieh Urness. Zoë is a Tlingit Alaskan Native American and her portraits are focused more towards modern natives in traditional settings. Her unique style fuses a documentary style with fine art to bring out the sensitivity and strength of her subjects.

What inspired Natasha Kertes to become an artist?

Natasha started as a decorative painter with a niche in faux finishes on wall and fresco restorations, which is quite scrupulous hard work. She understood at that time, that this was not her real passion or obsession as she wanted to create, explore and amuse her senses; a process that finally lead her to fine-art photography.

During our conversation, Natasha touched upon her solo show “Porcelain. Portraits of Modern Antiquities” at the Wynwood Art Center as her favourite exhibit: “I love portraiture a lot, where I see men and women as Gods and Goddesses,” she explained.

Then our chat was fully centred on Art Basel 2015 as it is the most anticipated art fair that all artists wait for. According to Natasha, Miami is a very contemporary place, so she wanted to create something deep in feeling, modern and yet, sculptural. Natasha’s exhibit showed three photographs from a small Vladimir Putin portrait, painted by Jan Van Eyck in 1434 (a parody of a strong Russian), to medium contemporary Lips photograph in coloured glass, to a large scale incredible under water photograph with a psychological meaning.

This talented photographer loves prose very much and writing artists’ statements for her body of work.  Her obsession with history and deep meaning of life inspires selected art photographs. In her ‘Lips’ series her inspiration was a historic map of the world presented in the form of three lips as flower petals and cardinal points of a map of Earth, as if the whole world was a cloverleaf, the escutcheon of hypothesis that earth is still a flower floating on the waters of the ocean.

Her metal sculpture was named “Saturn” where the relationship with light contributed greatly to her becoming deeply involved with “the art of light” that is photography. “Light” is both strength and grace, thus her sculpture made out of metal and glass represents the delicate condition of the inherent beauty of all living things as they change in the light.

Natasha’s large-scale photograph: “Narcissus: Reflection II” presented at the Art Basel Miami Beach 2015, featured at the Spectrum pavilion, reflectes the deepest and most secretive aspects of our collective psyche, as an affirmation of individual and the culture of narcissism. Narcissus was the son of a river god and a nymph, who fell in love with his own reflection in a pool of water and let himself die. It gave an origin to the narcissus flower, which grew where Narcissus died, becoming a flower bearing his name. Mirror is a dialog with oneself. Reflection is a ghost of reality. If we give more importance to the reflected image than to the people around us, we become like Narcissus – loving ourselves and our own reflection, so completely that we ignore all around us – thus the surrounding reality plummets, just as Narcissus did, into the dark waters in which our ephemeral identity floats.

My conversation with Natasha ended with a beautiful message to younger creative minds:

Passion. Live with passion. And never ever give up.

Art Basel Miami 2015

Wisdom Teeth by chinese artist He Xiangyu-Arnab Kar Photography

What inspired Zoë Marieh Urness to become an artist?

For Zoë Marieh, it is about the way she sees the world and people and the need to express them. She was inspired by a coffee-table book given to her by her father with a collection of photographs of Native American tribes by photographer Edward S. Curtis. This book inspired her to jump into photography and her journey began to capture through her lens various Native American tribes across North America.

Art Basel Miami 2015

Zeo Marieh by her Native American Exhibit – Arnab Kar Photography

At Art Basel Miami Beach 2015, Zoë Marieh was exhibiting photographs from her project “Native American – Keeping the Tradition Alive” as part of a broader project expected to last a lifetime, photographing Native American tribes from the East and West coast, with about 529 federally recognised tribes to be covered! Zoë Marieh was exhibiting photos from the “Hopi tribe” from Arizona and the “Dog Soldiers from northern Cheyenne” photographed in New Mexico, the “Nez Perce” tribes from Oregon and “Tlingit Alaskan Native”, tribe she belongs to.

Interestingly enough, one of her dream projects would be to combine photography  and community support, helping Native American youths wherever she is photographing. She would like to involve photography as a tool to inspire children wherever she visits. And on that note Zoë Marieh had an encouraging messages for new artists:

You should not be afraid to put yourself out there. If you don’t start with the first step you will not get to go anywhere

The culmination of my interviews was a fantastic opportunity to get to know these female artists better and understand their work in greater detail. Two talents with different visions and different styles but with the same passion, which allows an artist to explore the unlimited world of creativity and speak volumes through their art. Someone once said “a picture speaks a thousand words” and this statement couldn’t be more appropriate to describe these ladies’ work.

Art Basel Miami 2015

Michel Delgado sitting by his work – Arnab Kar Photography

Courtesy of: Natasha Kertes and Zoë Marieh Urness | Photograpby by: | Websites: |
Arnab Kar About the author

An MBA senior software consultant with a passion for photography loves fashion, Fine Art and landscape photography. Drawn towards painting, sketching and music, he works with world-class models and clients.


  1. Great article and photos!

  2. Good read!
    Live with passion!

  3. So interesting, thank you!!!!

  4. Great article, really liked how you captured the emotion with words and the photography!

  5. Interesting
    An ace photographer who writes as well
    You are multi talented Arnab (y)
    Good read