The most significant contemporary art galleries at FRIEZE LONDON and FRIEZE MASTERS 2019. Report from Regent’s Park.
FRIEZE LONDON & FRIEZE MASTERS
“Galleries went strong on painting. There was certainly a renewed interest as many exhibitions were focusing on the traditional medium.”
Interviews and featured galleries, artists by Zoltan Alexander
Antony Gormley at Frieze London opening, Tracey Emin, Tom Sachs, Leiko Ikemura at Frieze Sculpture, Massimo Agostinelli at Frieze London, Koo Jeong A’ at Frieze Sculpture / Acute Art (London), Kara Walker at Tate Modern (London), Sandro Botticelli at Trinity Fine Art (London), William Forsythe at Gagosian Gallery (London), Patrick Goddard at Seventeen Gallery (Paris), Lara Favaretto at Galleria Franco Noero (Turin), Kiluanji Kia Henda, Yinka Shonibare, Misheck Masamvu at Goodman Gallery (Johannesburg, Cape Town, London), Monica Bonvicini. at Galerie Peter Kilchmann (Zurich), Vik Muniz at Maison Ruinart (Reims), Tony Cragg, Georg Baselitz at Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac (Paris, Salzburg, London), Joseph Kosuth at Lia Rumma Gallery (Milan, Naples), Joseph Kosuth at Castelli Gallery (New York), Gina Pane at Galerie Kamel Mennour (Paris), Manuel Espinosa at Stephane Friedman Gallery (London), OMR Gallery (Mexico City), Wolfgang Tillmans, Jeff Koons at David Zwirner Gallery (London), Urara Tsuchiya at Union Pacific Gallery (London), General Idea at Maureen Paley Gallery (London)
Frieze London & Frieze Masters 2019 / © video by Zoltan Alexander ZOLTAN+MEDIA
From Botticelli to Tillmans. 160 of the world’s leading galleries at Frieze, 130 at Frieze Masters, over 1000 international artists. No sign of the Brexit-uncertainty and escalating political instability. No sign that Britain is in the midst of an economic and political crisis.
Dealers did good business.
Galleries went strong on painting. There was certainly a renewed interest as many exhibitions were focusing on the traditional medium.
“It’s not the time for expensive and ambitious installations, but for small and medium scale paintings. It’s equally not the moment to take risks and introduce an unknown figure to the current art world.”
Painting is always a safer bet. “When a recession looms, everyone goes back to painting. It is the equivalent of gold in art terms” artist, Shezad Dawood.
Although paintings were having a strong come-back, during Frieze Week Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall hosted the much acclaimed New York artist Kara Walker’s exhibition. “Fons Americanus” is a 13 tall working fountain, an environmentally conscious production built from recyclable and reusable material, inspired by the Victoria Memorial in front of Buckingham Palace. Rather than a celebration of the British Empire, Walker’s fountain explores the interconnected histories of Africa, America and Europe.
Walker is best known for her use of black cut-paper silhouetted figures, referencing the history of slavery and the antebellum South in the US through provocative and elaborate installations.
Extinction Rebellion also gathered at the entrance of Frieze to engage dealers and VIPs to recognise the climate emergency. An art-piece or shall we say an ice-piece titled "Freeze" by Massimo Agostinelli was left to melt outside the entrance and a second piece "XX" in Roman numeral numbers inside the fair.
“Should artists have a sustainable practice?” I asked Antony Gormley during collectors’ day. “We are all in the middle of the climate crises … I think at the end you want to touch people”.
Walking distance from Frieze to Frieze Masters, every year, Frieze Sculpture turns the English Gardens of Regent’s Park into an outdoor art installation. This year Tracey Emin slept on the grass in a monumental bronze form “‘When I Sleep”, giant bunnies were hopping with Tom Sachs “My Melody” and Leiko Ikemura “Usagi Kannon II”.
Acute Art presented the first Augmented-Reality art piece that Frieze has ever mounted, Koo Jeong A’s “Density” from the series Prerequisites 7. The artwork required to download an app to view the piece through a mobile phone, where the sculpture resembled a giant, floating block of ice.
Meanwhile, Trinity Fine Art has certainly got the attention for the Italian Renaissance painter Sandro Botticelli’s $30 million painting of “Michael Tarchaniota Marullus”, the most expensive work ever to come to Frieze Masters and reputed to be the final work by the artist in private hands.
GAGOSIAN GALLERY / London
On Preview Day Frieze opened with a dance performance "Live L3 - Towards the Diagnostic Gaze" by William Forsythe Gagosian Gallery. Participants are instructed to engage with the object to experience what their bodies ultimately can or cannot do.
The feather duster's highly susceptible components mechanically register the subtle continuous motion of the human circulatory and neuromuscular systems that are not available to normal human perception. Make sure to "Hold the object absolutely still."
SEVENTEEN GALLERY / London
Artist Patrick Goddard used dead parakeets to give voice to the climate change. The creative industry is often criticised for its carbon footprint, yet some artists were acknowledging the climate crisis this year at Frieze.
“Blue Sky Thinking” is composed of 180 dead parakeets made from reclaimed lead and strewn across the floor; “It is designed to strike a chord” said Dave Hoyland, the director of Seventeen. “It’s going to take a disaster, like all the birds dying, for people to take notice of the climate crisis”.
However, others argue that, despite the strong visual message of this work, the amount of money that spent on fine art compared to that spent on the climate crisis is outstanding. Goddard’s piece was valued at £18,000. Make sure you don’t step on dead birds
GALLERIA FRANCO NOERO / Turin
Italian artist Lara Favaretto at Galleria Franco Noero presented a kinetic art piece, two coloured car-wash brushes that take turns to spin against a wall of iron slabs, gradually eroding and changing them over time. The friction creates heat which melts the tips of the plastic bristles, while also creating an electrostatic charge which causes the metal to attract detritus and dust.
“Taboo” is brilliant ode to minimalism, but do we get replacement brushes?
GOODMAN GALLERY / Johannesburg, Cape Town, London
The gallery has held the reputation as a pre-eminent art gallery on the African continent since 1966. Goodman Gallery is an international contemporary art gallery with locations in Johannesburg, Cape Town and now in London. The gallery represents artists whose work confronts entrenched power structures and inspires social change. The London gallery opened during the summer 2019 railed against “heightened nationalist sentiment and populist politics”. The gallery’s owner and director Liza Essers said, “It’s about promoting social justice.”
Her words came true. Goodman Gallery returned strong to Frieze London and also to 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair at Somerset House. Installed in the courtyard “The Fortress” of “The Building Series IV” of Kiluanji Kia Henda opened the art fair.
Simultaneously, at Frieze the gallery presented Yinka Shonibare CBE. He was born in London, at the age of three moved to Lagos, Nigeria and returned to the UK to continue his studies at Goldsmiths College. He is known for his exploration of colonialism and post-colonialism within the context of globalisation.