Deep in the heart of London in the luscious grounds of Regent’s Park the annual Frieze Art Fair took place. For four days the fair sponsored mainly by the Deutsche Bank exhibits the works of over 150 of the world’s contemporary galleries from 30 countries including USA, China, India and South Africa.
In its 11th year, Frieze Art Fair has risen as one of the major annual events in the art calendar with collectors, curators and even the public emerging on the city’s capital to take in the works of the world’s leading artists. Bridging the gap between fashion and art to make it more accessible to the masses, Alexander McQueen has joined forces as associate sponsor. A presentation curated by the esteemed gallerist Sadie Coles hung on the walls of Alexander McQueen London stores throughout the period of Frieze London. Meanwhile at the tent in Regent’s Park featured two specialist sections – Frieze Frame and Frieze Focus. Frieze Frame showcases the work of solo artists from young, up and coming galleries while Frieze Focus is a space dedicated to galleries up to ten years old showcasing works curated especially for Frieze. One highlight of Frieze Frame is the work of recent Royal Academy Schools graduate Prem Sahib. Sahib’s work in the Southard Reid gallery space was an exploration of sexuality and sensuality through a minimal palette of grey, black and white. His glossy slate grey resin ‘sweat’ panel replicating the steamed up windows of a gay sauna or bathhouse with the traces of hands smears stretched across. The white box space in the middle of the space reproduces his room growing up as a teenager; emanating from within its walls the muted sound of heavy bass dance music and a blue light – Sahib’s own personal nightclub.
A recurring theme amongst the works shown at Frieze Art Fair is the capturing and preservation of nature and its beauty. At White Cube - legendary artist Damien Hirst’s piece ‘The Afterlife’ encased rows of glass, stainless steel, aluminium, nickel plastazote and entomological specimen of insects such as exotic multi, technicolour, vibrant butterflies, cockroaches and beetles. At Frieze Focus Anicka Yi’s work for 47 Canal New York used cooking techniques to preserve nature by tempura frying flowers and displaying them on five plexiglas frames.
Nina Beier’s work,showcased by the Laura Bartlett Gallery London,was a proposition of the language and relationship between art and commerciality. She confronted this through her money floor pieces that featured life-sized beach towels printed as British pound notes, American dollars and the Euro. It’s a political statement about the state of the art culture and the way in which the system is orchestrated.
Two exhibitions that drew in the crowds over the four-day period were by Jeff Koons and Ron Mueck. The infamous New York artist Jeff Koons showcased his infamous balloon animals in stainless steel. The weightless-ness of the iridescent, mirror-finished objects was hard to believe in person. It’s ostentatious and gauche magnitude filled the space it proudly inhabited. On the other hand Ron Mueck’s piece for Hauser & Wirth entitled ‘Woman with Shopping’ captured a caught mundane everyday moment. The woman bearing orange shopping bags with her baby strapped to her stomach shielded in her oversized brown tweed coat. The painful thoughtful expression is evident in her face and stature. She’s not just a woman carrying her grocery shopping but also a woman who is mother to her infant child. Mueck has frozen a minute moment in this woman’s life story and has left it to the viewer to continue the story. Just like Mueck’s protagonist after four long days of viewing numerous works of art was enough to make one feel wary.