For those of you who aren’t aware, the Frieze Art Fair is a yearly art experience where paintings, sculptures, installations and many more things are thrown at you from every angle, all beneath a single roof. The Frieze Art Fair features over 150 contemporary art galleries from around the world.
The fair also includes specially commissioned artists’ projects, a talks program and an artist-led education schedule, for those educationally inclined.
Apart from the art, this year Frieze Art Fair was intimidating and huge, with an overwhelming number of galleries, and artwork on display. You only had to look around to find people who were either exhausted from rushing around trying to see everything, or they have that slightly dreaded look in their eye that they’ve missed something.
That aside, the general consensus this year is that mortality and the economic recession are two of the dominant themes. ROGER HIORN’S piece made with cow brains is on show at Foxx and there were also pieces from HENRIK HAKANSSON made with bird faeces at FRANCO NOERO. In addition, Elmgreen and Dragset were showing a sculpture of a thin figure with a ball and chain attached to its ankle at HELGA DE ALVEAR’S stand.
Compared with the ‘recklessness’ of the last few years, the dealers seemed mildly conservative if not careful with the artwork they chose to display. As a result there were a lot of hang-able works by big name artists, huge oversized photographs and paintings that would look fantastic showing out in your penthouse apartment or corporate office and the odd sculptures, most notably the series of erotic ceramic mini sculptures found in London’s White Cube stand.
There weren’t as many tricky installations, though Sadie Coles seemed a worthy exception, showing GABRIEL KURI’S self portraits: plastic bags filled with water and what looked like urine.
TRACEY EMIN, JULIAN OPIE and LEE BUL had pieces in more than one gallery, creating a strange I’ve-seen-this-before effect. There were also works by older artists, such as Weegee. SIGMAR POLKE’S enormous painting of pixelated cartoon figures was relatively interesting, as was an almost indiscernible piece of pointed wire that moved slowly in and out of a wall – Charles Ray, surely one of the quieter pieces on display.
And for the first time this year, the Frieze Art Fair showcased a special section of “young” galleries – those who have been in existence less than six years and would not normally be eligible to exhibit. This section, dutifully named Frame, featured solo artist presentations from such galleries as New York’s Lisa Cooley, Mumbai’s Project 88 and London’s Limoncello.
The Time in Utopia
Text MARIAM EL-BANNA
Photography CJ CLARKE