Frieze London 2015

Posted on October 25, 2015 by Toothpicker There have been 0 comments

frieze London 2015P1140806-compressedP1140804-compressed'Mutter' by Erwin Wurm

2nd row left: 'Cierra' by John de Andrea at Galerie Perrotin; 2nd middle: 'Steel Broken Figure' by Daniel Arsham at Galerie Perrotin; 2nd row right: 'Mutter' by Erwin Wurm


I have continued to declare that I am not a fan of art fairs, yet my curiosity has led me back to them somehow. I have never been interested in attending Frieze London until this year. One of the reasons I changed my mind was because I wanted to distinguish the difference between Frieze and Art Basel.

After the eye-opening and atrocious experience at Art Basel Hong Kong earlier this year (you can read about it here), I was hoping that Frieze would change my view on these mega art fairs. Well, not really.

After my visits to the two art fairs within this year, I would say that Art Basel in Hong Kong was a more ostentatious fair (probably catering for the Chinese market), and the venue was filled with prodigious art and sculptural installations. A majority of the visitors were not buyers (or even interested in art for that matter), but they created buzz and hype around the show, which was free publicity that worked wonders for the marketing team.


cocktail party by Tom Friedmanai weiwei Abdulnasser Gharem's The Stampdo ho suhdo ho suhPaul ChanMark Leckey at Galerie Buchholz

Top row: 'Cocktail party' by Tom Friedman; 2nd row left: 'Iron roots' by Ai Wei Wei; 2nd row right: 'The Stamp' by Abdulnasser Gharem; 3rd row & 4th left: Do Ho Suh's fabric installations; 4th row middle: Cords installation by Paul Chan; 4th row right: 'Felix the Cat' by Mark Leckey at Galerie Buchholz


Frieze London (not Masters), on the other hand, seemed more subdued and less gimmicky in comparison and displayed a wider range of art forms (like video, film and sound art). One of the biggest differences between the two was the attendees, it appeared that Frieze's visitors were genuinely interested in art and in purchasing. There were not many selfie addicts, and the vibe was more 'civilised'. Yet I still did not enjoy my 3-hour experience at the fair. While I felt overwhelmed at Art Basel, I felt slightly underwhelmed at Frieze. Not that there were no substantial works at the fair, but I was not blown away. Despite the disappointment, here are some of the highlights for me from the fair:

Do Ho Suh is one of the most renowned Korean contemporary artists working today. His neon-bright mesh sculptures and installations of domestic space, fixtures and fittings are intricate and fascinating.


birgit brennermark wallinger endgame Cornelia Parker 'Opposites' Hauser & Wirth at Frieze 2015Christina Mackie at Supportico Lopez Francis Alÿs' Camgunmounir fatmi 'The Paradox'louise bourgeoisP1140926-compressedmounir fatmi 'The Paradox' Mark Dion, 'The Phantasmal Cabinet,' Georg Kargl Fine Arts

Top: Birgit Brenner's cardboard lorry; 2nd row left: Mark Wallinger's 'endgame'; 2nd row right: Cornelia Parker's 'Opposites' with Fine Cell works; 3rd row: Sculptures at Hauser & Wirth; 4th left: Christina Mackie at Supportico Lopez; 4th right: Francis Alÿs' 'Camgun'; 5th left & bottom left: Mounir Fatmi's 'The Paradox' at Goodman Gallery; 5th middle: Louise Bourgeois' sculpture; 5th right: Alicja Kwade at 303 Gallery; Bottom right: Mark Dion's 'The Phantasmal Cabinet' at Georg Kargl Fine Arts


Although I am not a huge fan of contemporary art, I would say that Belgian conceptual artist Francis Alÿs is someone who I respect. His works are often thought-provoking, imaginative and insightful. His 'Camgun' is a machine gun sculpture made of scraps (wood, metal, plastic) that works as a camera, which reflects the violence of life in Mexico City where he resides.

As a practitioner of Arabic calligraphy, it is not surprised that I was immensely drawn to Moroccan artist Mounir Fatmi's 'The Paradox', a sculpture that shows an obsolete machine featuring Arabic calligraphy and steel pieces scattered around the machine. Fatmi often questions written text and its visual poetry, highlighting the paradox between its beauty and its violence, its meaning and its shape. This piece is not only visually alluring but the craftsmanship is exquisite.


camille henrot camille henrotcamille henrot at Galerie Kamel Mennourhayv kahramangary webb  at The ApproachRyan Gander amalia pica's joy in paperworkKen Kagami at Misako & Rosen Ed Fiorneles at Carlos/Ishikawa

Top and 2nd row: Camille Henrot at Galerie Kamel Mennour; 3rd left: Hayv Kahraman; 3rd middle: Gary Webb at The Approach; 3rd right: Ryan Gander at Taro Nasu; 4th row: Amalia Pica's 'Joy in paperwork'; Bottom row left: live comic drawing by Ken Kagami at Misako & Rosen; Bottom right: Ed Fiorneles at Carlos/Ishikawa


French artists Camille Henrot's paintings occupied most of the wall space at Galerie Kamel Mennour's booth. Her playful and intriguing pastel figures enact various private activities that reflect our narcissistic culture today.

Iraqi artist Hayv Kahraman's paintings reflect the controversial issues of gender, honor killings and war in Iraq and the Middle East. Kahraman tells these tales of horror with a demure grace through her stunningly beautiful and compelling paintings.

I also love Amalia Pica's 'Joy in paperwork' comprises of 42 compositions created through traditional stationery rubber stamps. A simple but lovely idea.


Ann Agee's Lake Michigan Bathroom (II) at P.P.O.W. GalleryAnn Agee at P.P.O.W. Gallery Anri Sala's 'Still Life in the Doldrums'Samara Scott’s floor installation at The Sunday PainterP1140938-compressed Damian Ortega at Galeria Fortes Vilaca

Top & 2nd left: Ann Agee's 'Lake Michigan Bathroom (II)' at P.P.O.W. Gallery; 2nd row right: Anri Sala's 'Still Life in the Doldrums' installation at Marian Goodman; 3rd row: Samara Scott’s floor installation at The Sunday Painter; Bottom left: Charlie White; Bottom right: Damian Ortega at Galeria Fortes Vilaca


One of the most eye-catching installations at the fair was American artist Ann Agee's 'Lake Michigan Bathroom (II)' at the P.P.O.W. Gallery stand. I love azulejo and Agee's ceramic tiled wall installations feature a urinal, a toilet, a bidet, a sink and a water fountain. Don't expect a wall of idyllic scenery ( remember that this is an ART fair after all), her contemporary version include illustrations of the human anatomy and genitals, as well as people in various states of excretion.

Albanian artist Anri Sala's 'Still Life in the Doldrums (d'apres Cezanne)' was another crowd drawer at the fair. The multi-media installation features four hand painted human skulls, a snare drum, carved American Maple drumsticks, loudspeaker parts and soundtrack (mono). Visitors were bewildered by the sounds produced from the self playing drumsticks underneath the skulls. Fun, uncanny and enigmatic, this installation reminds us that art is not just restricted to the visual cue; and it is encouraging to see more artists combining audio with visual to create a multi-sensory experience for visitors.



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