Torquato’s Golden Ticket through Art Basel, 2015

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Torquato’s  Golden Ticket through Art Basel, 2015




Simply put, Art Basel 2015 was a fr#*kin incredible whirlwind of inspiration. I was a first timer and fortunately I had the best possible tour guide by the name of Gregory de la Haba.

Photo 1

Gregory is an incredible artist and writer but he also publishes Whitehot Magazine which produced a special issue for Art Basel. What this means is that every fair, opening, party or VIP event opened it’s arms to Gregory and I was right there to ride in with his crew. Looking back a couple of weeks later, it all seems like a bit of a blur. Fortunately, I snapped some photos along the way, here are some highlights I can share:

Fresh off the plane, I learned the ‘official first stop’ for a proper Art Basel experience is Club Deuce for a cold beer.

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We drove to Wynwood to pick up photographer David Jay and see his new Miami studio. Along the way I caught a glimpse of this epic Cleon Peterson wall and was reminded to beware of the land sharks.

Cleon peterson- photo 3_resized

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Shark Toof

When I first saw David Jays work, it stopped me in my tracks. Intense, bold, provocative, insightful beautiful and so much more…

Photo 5 - David Jay studio_resized

Our first event was the Jeffery Deitch / Larry Gagosian UNREALISM preview party. Apparently this was a pretty big deal as there was a heavy police presence, snipers included.

Cops at Deitch and Gasosian_resized

Once inside, the location and work certainly didn’t disappoint.

Deitch Gagosian interior_resized
The Mr Chow life size candle was a hit.

Photo 8 Mr Chow_resized

The Richard Prince Untitled series was my favorite.

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Richard prince 10_resized

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We swung by a party for Lenny Kravitz which was put on by Leica. The series of photos on display were from Lenny’s POV as fans took pictures of him.

Leica - kravitz 12_resized

Leica Kravits with swizz beats 13_resized_1

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Once inside the Main Basel Fair, the works of legends, the dreams and the inspirations all came to life.

Picasso 15_resized


Dreams 17_resized

I found myself drawn to certain works and this is where the real fun began.

Valerie Favre 2009 balls and tunnels 18_resized_1

Henriqie oliveira # 19_resized

Los Carpinteros, surf de lego azul 2014 - #20_resized

Unknown # 21_resized

Unknown # 22_resized

Louise Nevelson #23_resized

Being on your feet all day can be tiring. Davidoff sponsored a lounge where you were encouraged to get off your feet, have a glass of champagne and sample their cigars.

Davidoff lounge #24_resized

Next up was the Untitled fair and as you might guess there was more incredible work!!

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David bopp #26_resized

Site;Lab julie schenkelberg, lemurian shift_resized

28 - devin troy strother_resized

These works by Ronald Davis were some of my very favorites.

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Ronald Davis #30_resized

Humberto Diaz # 31_resized

Joaquin Boz #32_resized
Inside the SCOPE Fair, on the same day that the tragic events were unfolding in San Bernardino, this piece by Sabrina Rocca certainly drew a lot of attention…

Scope 33_resized

Sabrina Rocca #33_resized


36 - magu by barbara van den berg_resizedI am a big fan of texture…

#37 Mark Pack, metamorphic 2014_resized

Sean Newport 'perspective shift' #38_resized_1

Back to Wynwood and some wallside wisdom


to keep things in perspective.

There was some humor as well…


In and out of the various galleries, there were so many great works. This piece by Miscre8 titled ‘Fight the Power’ is great.

Miscre8 #41_resized

The Murals are masterful and in abundance, here are a few:

42 Kenny Scarf_resized Kenny Scarf

43 Shephard Fairey_resized

Shephard Fairey

44 shephard Fairey_resized

Shephard Fairey

45 miss Van_resized Miss Van  46 retna_resized Retna

#47 Faith 47_resizedFaith 47

Ernest zacharevic_resizedErnest Zacharevic,


One of my favorite fairs was in Wynwood and titled ‘No Commission’ which was curated by the Dean Collection and brought to life by Swizz Beatz.

50 Hyon Gyon_resizedHyon Gyon

Hoxoh #51_resized Hoxoh

Michael vasquez #52_resizedMichael Vasquez

53 stand tall_resized stand tall

At this point in the week, as the marathon continued, it becomes unclear now which fair we went to next… I did however catch images of more AMAZING works:

54 the ultimate selfie_resized

 the ultimate selfie

Jonathan McCree 55_resized Jonathan McCree

Peter Demetz_resizedPeter Demetz

Artist unknown on a tag stag 57_resizedunknown on tag stag

58 Basquiat58 Basquiat

59 Mr Brainwash_resized Mr Brainwash

60 mr brainwash_resized Mr Brainwash

Andy Moses_resizedAndy Moses

62 Basquiat 50 dentures_resized Basquiat

63 Michael Dweck , triple gidget_resizedMichael Dweck, Triple Gidget

Banksy #64_resizedBanksy

Next stop was to hotel suite for a special show of works by LA based artist Gregory Siff.

Gregory Siff hotel view 65_resized

66 Gregory Siff works_resizedGregory Siff

Gregory siff detail #67

Gregory Siff

As Saturday came rolling through, brunch at the Sagamore Hotel was the call. There was great food and more interesting works along with fascinating people. However, inspirational overload was kicking in and total exhaustion was approaching. I was toasted.

68 saturday brunch_resized

Saturday brunch #69_resized

70 Jen Stark_resized Jen Stark

Sagamore 71_resized

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Sagamore collection 73_resized

Cornelia parker , composition with horns, #74_resized_1


It was time to fly home and regroup, rest and prepare to turn this inspirational journey into fuel to propel my work forward. More to come from this front soon.

Big thanks to Gregory de la Haba and his family, Brian Thatcher, Carley Montgomery, the team at New Utopia and Cindy Schwarzstein for the amazing hospitality, guidance and for making my first Basel experience absolutely incredible.


1490661_10151920980188785_144198519_oMichael Torquato deNicola. Mike is a Los Angeles based artist who grew up making sense of the world through surfing and art. Born and raised in Orange County, California, he has never lived far from the ocean. Mike started surfing at age 12 and was on the US team by age 19. As the first pro surfer from the US team to graduate from college, he learned to negotiate between his atheletic pursuits, and the business of surd, working with some of the industries top brands from Quicksilver, Hot Tuna, O’Neil and BC Surfboards to collaborating with his sponsor Spyder to design a line of wetsuits.

Mike has always designer the work on his boards, but it was only when he started traveling and competing internationally that his work developed into the style it is today. Painting his own borads and developing his kinetic style of story telling through Indonesia, Samoa, The Galapagos, Iceland, Europe, Australia, Panama and Canads, Mike’s boards tell the story of his relationship with the ocean from around the globe.

If Mike’s surf style can be called fluid his large and colorful mixed media pieces resonate the same fluidity in a layered collage of rhythms, patterns and forms. His art can be seen on his painted surfboards, installation pieces, and film. Some of his ventures have come from working with Marie Claire, The Olson Company and creating and producing Red Bull’s ‘5X’ series, seen on Fox, NBC and Fuel TV which feature a new format of competitive surfing. Mike is currently producing his first feature length documentary ‘The Westsiders’. His work has been seen in Maxim, Surfer Magazine, Surf Europe, Waves, Marie Claire and Sports Illustrated. More here on Michael’s website. 

Follow Michael on facebook, instagram and twitter. 

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