Frieze Art Fair 2012: a mixed bag of classical and contemporary delights
This year is the tenth Frieze Art Fair and this time there’s an interesting addition to the second pavilion, entitled Frieze Masters, situated at the other end of Regent’s park. There has been no small amount of commentary on the dual shows, with critics questioning whether collectors of older artists will be interested in contemporary pieces and vice versa. The combined fair does mean that those of us who wish to look, rather than buy, are in for a double treat.
The Frieze is as buoyant and busy as ever, with over 175 galleries showcasing more than 1,000 contemporary artists from 35 different countries. This presents a wonderful opportunity for collectors and general art lovers alike to take in some of the most stunning/wacky/thought-provoking art currently on the world stage. Tickets start at £27 but it’s more than worth it, as it takes at least an hour to have even a quick stroll around the space, something that’s very hard to do with so many attention grabbing artworks on display. Indeed with so much on offer, it’s hard to fit it all in, so we’ve handily picked a few of our favourite highlights below that we recommend you see before you leave.
Frieze Fair gallery highlights
The White Cube – Now with three gallery spaces in London, The White Cube has become a real heavy-weight since the Young British Artists’ days. On offer at this year’s Frieze is a Hirst mural made from razor blades and polished glass, alongside an Anthony Gormley sculpture, and some fantastic paintings from Marc Quin and Andreas Gursky amongst other pieces.
The Breeder, Athens – Incredibly intricate pen and ink drawings from Antonis Donef that entice you to spend hours studying them, and vivid mixed media images by Stelios Faitakis make this gallery space stand-out. One of the Donefs is almost as big as a bus, and it was a delight to sit in awe before it, letting it all soak in.
Grizedale Arts/Yangkiang Group – This is a bit different and it’s a definite must-see as it was specifically commissioned as a freize project. Described as “an examination of the use-value of art” it’s a set of performance pieces, talks and edible artworks that take place at specific times during the day. The Curator Cadaver Cake Autopsy by Bedwyr Williams (2-5pm) was especially entertaining as the audience is encouraged to ask for the body parts of the hapless curator, which they can then tuck in to with a nice cup of tea.
Frieze Fair artist highlights
Kevin Cosgrove, Mother’s Tankstation – This Irish artist has several of his oil paintings on display and from a distance they have a photographic quality to them. As you approach for a closer look, you can see the careful attention to detail and use of light in these haunting, busy images of unpopulated workshops that he often recreates from memory, rather than a physical image.
Yukiko Suto, Take Ninagawa Gallery, Tokyo – Suto takes photos on walks around Tokyo and recreates them in large scale pencil drawings. Her work here is also lightly touched with pigment, which gives an ethereal quality to the images that captures the imagination of the viewer.
Jonas Wood, David Kordansky Gallery, Los Angeles – Colourful, almost cubist oil and acrylic paintings of interiors and people from contemporary American life are the signature of this LA-based artist. A lot of the work on display had been created this year, but a few older pieces were present too and it was nice to see how his work has developed over time.
It’s certainly quieter in the Frieze Masters pavilion and the soft carpeted floor and onsite restaurants Locatelli (coffee the Italian way) and Umu (sublime sushi) add to the altogether different, more reserved feeling that this show presents. There’s some fabulous work here too, and you get the opportunity to see some real classics. There is a collection of seldom seen Warhol sketches, Ray Lichtenstein paintings and an untold feast of beautiful European oils from the 15th century onwards, alongside classical sculptures and tapestries from all around the world.
It costs extra for tickets to visit both fairs, so those with lower budgets may have to choose which appeals more, but it’s easy to fill an entire day at either, and it makes for an unforgettable experience. Even during troubled economic times like these, art is a sound investment, and while it is, it’s safe to assume that Frieze will be an annual event, which is no bad thing.
Visit the website for tickets and more information.