Frieze pulls out all the stops
SAN FRANCISCO – At Frieze London and Frieze Masters, the twin art fairs that take place in Regent’s Park from Thursday to Sunday, the stall-lined aisles will be filled with thousands of works of every variety imaginable.
Much of this art started in a studio like the one where the painter named Koak worked for months on a tight deadline in the Dogpatch neighborhood here.
Koak’s work is on display at Frieze London by Union Pacific, a UK gallery, and she wanted to make sure they had enough solid material. Frieze has nearly 160 dealers at its fair, which emphasizes contemporary art.
“Deadlines are important,” Koak said as she stood on a paint-splattered tarp in front of five large canvases that would be offered to Frieze. “They crystallize things. It also presents two bronze sculptures of cats.
The Frieze fairs did not take place in person last year, with the exception of a few select events, but have been replaced by digital versions. Although the shows have now returned to Regent’s Park, with Covid precautions in place in the two tent-like structures, they will not revert to their exact 2019 forms.
“We are going in two directions,” said Eva Langret, artistic director of Frieze London. “We are expanding the digital footprint, but also thinking about physical performances. “
Frieze’s online viewing rooms, like those at other shows, should now be a regular feature. What is more surprising is that Frieze also opened a physical gallery in London at 9 Cork Street, named after his address in Mayfair.
It will offer three rotating shows organized by galleries around the world. The first shows, presented now, come from dealers James Cohan, Commonwealth and Council and Proyectos Ultravioleta.
“We want to support the galleries all year round,” Ms. Langret said. “It’s a premium space in London, which is not affordable for most dealers.”
The fair itself has many attendees from New York, including Matthew Marks Gallery, Venus Over Manhattan, and Casey Kaplan. Among local London galleries, Timothy Taylor will show several paintings on the sports theme of black figures by Honor Titus, including two images of tennis.
On the Union Pacific stand, Koak’s paintings all have his distinctive style: Intensely colored, they suggest female figures, but do not fill in all the details. As Koak, 39, described it, “figurative, but playing with abstraction.”
His influences include Matisse – felt in the sharply delineated curves of the bodies in his images – as well as the comics. Paintings are the last step in a long process that begins with a pencil sketch and involves digitizing and reworking the compositions over and over.
Koak said she sees the fair as a “collapsed exhibition,” meaning that works normally exhibited for months in a gallery were only seen a few days, but by many more people. And she said she didn’t tailor her art to appeal to a fair audience – but that in selecting works, she was aware of the intense competition for attention.
For example, at Art Basel Miami Beach in 2019, “I had a feeling there would be a lot of colorful artwork,” she said. “So I showed non-colored drawings. “
She added: “You can think about the context a bit.”
She also decided to donate a few hundred limited edition prints of her work at the fair, a few of which are set aside for sale.
Union Pacific is part of the Focus section, for younger galleries, and Frieze also has new sections this year. One of them, Unworlding, is organized by Cédric Fauq and will focus on social change, with works by Nora Turato, Ndayé Kouagou and Natacha Donzé, among others.
Also new is the Editions section, for works like prints, which tend to be less expensive than unique works.
“We want to encourage young collectors, and we think about affordability,” Ms. Langret said.
One of the Editions’ galleries, Cristea Roberts of London, will present works by Michael Craig-Martin, Yinka Shonibare and Paula Rego, among others.
The price range is around $ 1,500 to $ 25,000, “which for an art fair is cheap,” said gallery founder Alan Cristea.
Mr Cristea, who organizes seven or eight fairs a year, said the pandemic had been a little easier to survive for print merchants.
“It’s hard to imagine someone spending $ 20 million on a painting they haven’t seen in person, but with prints, as long as the customer knows the artist, they’ll spend money. without seeing it in the flesh, “he said. noting that 2020 has been a banner year for the gallery “despite being closed half the time”.
Across the park, Frieze Masters has over 130 galleries featuring older works of art. (Between the two shows, dealers from 39 countries are represented.)
Mr Cristea, who exhibited at both fairs, said the art in Masters dates back to the beginning of time – “from God onward” – and noted that softer lighting and wider aisles meant the experience was quieter.
“You can take the time, and there is less frenzy,” he added.
New York photography dealer Bruce Silverstein will explore seriality in his booth. Among the artists featured with multiple images each are Alfred Stieglitz and Bill Cunningham; a photographic triptych made around 1980 by German artists Bernd and Hilla Becher depicts the industrial landscapes for which they have become known.
Frieze Masters also has a new feature: Stand Out, a section curated by Luke Syson, director of the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge, England.
Nathan Clements-Gillespie, the art director of the fair, said the intention was to “show decorative art in a different light – bringing out the decorative from the decorative arts”, focusing on sculptural skill and l conceptual ingenuity.
Galleries in the section include Prahlad Bubbar from London, Alessandra Di Castro from Rome and Gisèle Croës from Brussels.
Ms. Croës has been an art dealer since the 1970s, with a specialty in archaic Chinese bronzes. “These are the earliest ages, the earliest dynasties, of Chinese art,” she said.
It will exhibit around sixty pieces, most of them small, the first dating from the 6th century BC. They include a bronze belt plaque, a tin-plated bronze goat plaque and a bronze dagger. Perhaps most attractive is a large polychrome terracotta camel and rider made during the Tang Dynasty in China.
“I’ve always been interested in rituals, and these bronze works are part of the rituals,” Ms. Croës said. She added that some of the items, made by tribes in the steppes of present-day Mongolia, are “things you can wear because the nomads did not have homes.”
The Frieze brand is probably more associated with works like Koak’s, given that it publishes a contemporary art magazine, eight issues a year, and pursues projects like No. 9 Cork Street.
But Ms Croës said she liked her antiques to be paired with cutting-edge works.
“The combination is what makes it interesting,” she said. “Modern art and ancient art, it shows that we have a continuity.”
Ms Croës added: “I believe that the past is mixed up with the future.