Frieze Art Fair London 2017
Frieze is the highlight of the London art world’s year. Held every October in a vast marquee in the beautiful setting of Regent’s Park, galleries and visitors travel internationally to show and see the latest in contemporary art. With over 160 galleries from 31 countries, Frieze London offers ambitious presentations of new art in both solo and curated booths.
The fair has a number of different sections, each with a unique flavour. At the far end of the marquee (and a good place to start), visitors can find Frieze Focus. Here, younger galleries are invited to show up-and-coming artists offering unusual and innovative concepts. Highlights here include Evgeny Antufiev’s project at Emalin (Booth H9), where the artist has used cardboard and tape to construct an image of a monster whose mouth is the entrance to the booth. Inside, the viewer encounters a myriad of sculptures that recall the objects of shamanistic ritual. Lacking a real historical context, the objects take on a mystical power of their own that speaks to issues of identity and reality.
Another Focus booth worth taking in is Arcadia Missa (Booth H32), where you can view a fascinating video installation by Hannah Black. Black is an artist to watch: she currently has a solo show at London’s Chisenhale Gallery, and this installation has just been acquired by the Tate.
Also in this section is a performance space, where a selection of pieces by young artists are scheduled throughout the day. If participatory artwork is more up your street, Lucy + Jorge Orta (Booth P4) have created a booth where you can pick up a “world passport” supposedly issued by Antarctica. The artists see Antarctica as a symbol of the unification of world citizens, encouraging visitors to live outside the borders of their nationality.
The central section of Frieze is where some of the biggest international galleries are based. The talk of the fair this year is Hauser & Wirth (Booth D10), whose booth is called “Bronze Age c. 3500 BC-AD 2017” and curated in collaboration with well-known Cambridge classicist Mary Beard. Styled like a dusty old museum, genuine ancient bronze artefacts borrowed from international institutions sit alongside contemporary pieces, bronze sculptures by mid-century classics such as Henry Moore and Louise Bourgeois, and random objects bought on Ebay. The presentation challenges the minimalistic style of contemporary art galleries and uses tongue-in-cheek humour to point to the heritage of sculpture made of bronze. There’s even a gift shop, where you can pick up naff-looking pencils, rubbers and mugs for as little as £1 (proceeds support the museums who loaned the gallery works).
Other highlights in this section include Marian Goodman (Booth C6), which is offering a beautifully curated selection of powerful works. In the centre of the floor is a beautiful, and strangely relaxing, work by Christina Iglesias that features water running over a huge bronze vessel, set against a backdrop of other stunning pieces by Hiroshi Sugimoto and Giuseppe Penone.
Across the aisle, Victoria Miro (Booth C3) is showing an exquisitely detailed three-dimensional reproduction of an entryway in fabric and thread, as well as a surprisingly lovely cyanotype by the same artist. Also nearby, Stephen Friedman (Booth C5) is exhibiting a cohesive series of sculptures by African-American artist Melvin Edwards, whose work recently came to wider attention in the exhibition Soul of a Nation at Tate Modern.
One of the most hotly anticipated features of this year’s Frieze London is a selection of booths entitled “Sex Work: Feminist Art & Radical Politics”, curated by Alison M Gingeras. The section features pieces by women artists working at the edge of feminism in the 1970s and 1980s. The curator says it “pays homage to artists who transgressed sexual mores, gender norms and the tyranny of political correctness and were frequently the object of censorship in their day”. Brought triumphantly out of the shadows, the section features a reappraisal of work by Mary Beth Edelson (David Lewis, Booth S2), Natalia LL (Lokal_30, Booth S3) and Penny Slinger (Blum and Poe, Booth S1).
The scope of Frieze London this year is wider than ever, with modern and even ancient art mixed among the contemporary pieces to which it is nominally dedicated. It even extends out into the open spaces of Regent’s Park with its sculpture programme, which is also worth a leisurely look. With work by over 1,000 artists on show, you’ll never have time to look at everything in the fair, but you certainly won’t get bored trying.
Photo: Frieze Art Fair
Frieze London 2017 is at Regent’s Park from 5th until 8th October 2017. For further information or to book visit the Frieze Art Fair website here.