Situated in London’s scenic Regent’s Park, London’s pre-eminent art fair returned once again this year with what many have deemed its most international edition yet.
Taking place under the shadow of Brexit, the hot topic throughout the fair, while many argued that displays were less vibrant than usual, still the usual throng of collectors, art lovers and professionals from across the world flocked to view the displays of the 165 galleries inside the fair’s iconic white tipped tents.
Of note this year were a few things. Firstly, there was a section entitled Woven exploring the use of textiles in contemporary art. These included eight solo booth presentations, featuring biomorphic hemp shapes by Indian Mrinalini Mukherjee at Nature Morte; geometric compositions in silk, cotton and paper by Madagascar’s Joel Andrianomearisoa at Primae Noctis and Monika Correa presented by Jhaveri Contemporary, Mumbai, among others. The section used textile as a way to explore our most recent global histories.
“Together these eight solo presentations will make visible the histories and continuous legacies of the colonial catastrophe, from the economies around textiles to current forms of exploitation and political complicity, as well as point to the various languages available to artistic practice in this critical effort,” said curator Cosmin Costinas.
While fears of looming Brexit and its impact on the European and UK art market were in the air, sales were assuredly strong. The most expensive work at the fair was an endearing red lumpy Hand (1979) by Philip Guston at Hauser & Wirth at Frieze Masters that went for $5m on the opening day.
Also at Hauser & Wirth a Mark Bradford painting entitled A Molded Pool of Stories sold for $3.4m as well as a John Chamberlain 1991 sculpture COULDYOUWOULDYOU for $900,000. At David Zwirner, a Kerry James Marshall painting entitled Car Girl 2 (2019) sold to a museum in the US for $3.8m on Wednesday, the first day of the fair preview.
The gallery also sold a large painting by German artist Neo Rauch for $1.5m. South African Goodman Gallery, which inaugurated its London branch during Frieze Week, sold four bronze sculptures by William Kentridge to a European collector for $1.2m. It also sold all of the paintings by Zimbabwean painter Misheck Masamvu in the price range of $15,000 and $40,000.
A successful and cheery week it was in London, not to mention the plethora of exciting exhibitions taking place outside of Frieze, including Fons Americanus, a 13-metre tall working fountain inspired by the Victoria Memorial in front of Buckingham Palace, London by American artist Kara Walker at the Tate Modern; South African artist Lisa Brice’s solo exhibition at Stephen Friedman Gallery; Cerberus, a solo show of works by Mark Bradford at Hauser & Wirth and Some Are Born To Endless Night – Dark Matter by Lina Iris Viktor at Autograph (until 25 January 2020).
Clearly, the penchant these days leans towards rediscovering and redefining the unheard voices of our most recent past.
Read on for a selection of our eight standout booths.
Sterling Ruby at Gagosian Gallery
The pulsating yellow and earthy red paintings of Sterling Ruby were impossible to miss at Gagosian Gallery. Situated in front of the entrance, the gallery presented the artist’s thickly coated paintings from his WIDW series alongside sculptures produced over the last decade. The presentation was simultaneous to Gagosian’s Online Viewing Room that featured a selection of seven artworks from the artist’s personal archive, including one new painting and one new sculpture created especially for the occasion, ranging from $45,000 to $600,000.
A view of Gagosian Gallery's booth featuring new works by Sterling Ruby
Photography by Rebecca Anne Proctor
On view at Gagosian’s Britannia Street space in London is Ruby’s solo show ACTS + TABLE (until 2 December). The artist’s glazed ceramics, collage and installation works incorporate a wide range of influences, stemming from urban graffiti and contemporary society. He’s also known for his collaborations with fashion designr Raf Simons during his tenure at Dior.
Donna Huanca at Simon Lee Gallery
A moment of respite could be had at Simon Lee’s booth with the presentation of Argentinian Chicago-born artist Donna Huanca encompassing sculpture, painting, sound and scent. Perusing Huanca’s paintings with their calming blue hues offered a holistic and immersive experience in contrast to the cacophony of crowds outside.
An installation view of Simon Lee's booth with works by Donna Huanca
Photo by Ocula and Charles Roussel
The artist’s work, which revolves around the relationship of the human body to space, gender and identity, makes references through its performative aspects to South American spiritual traditions. The single-channel sound piece and custom made scene incorporated in the presentation was inspired by the fragrance of Palo Santo, a holy tree native to South America and often used in ritual purification ceremonies. The artist’s first major museum exhibition, Obsidian Ladder, is currently on view at the Marciano Foundation in Los Angeles (until 1 December).
Jonathan Meese at David Nolan Gallery
There’s never a shortage of bars during art fairs but this time the leisurely tradition was celebrated by maximalist German artist Jonathan Meese’s Western-style bar at David Nolan Gallery’s booth. There free drinks were served amidst an immersive installation inspired by the mythology of a 19th-century Western saloon incorporating a multitude of the artist’s signature references and heirlooms. A continuous line of spectators eagerly awaited a drink and a chance to browse inside what appeared to be a manifestation of leisurely escapement.
Installation views of David Nolan Gallery's booth
Courtesy of D avid Nolan Gallery
Neil Beloufa at Kamel Mennour
A double presentation of Franco-Algerian artist Neil Beloufa, a nominee of the Turner Prize 2019, took place at Kamel Mennour’s Frieze booth and at the gallerist’s space on 51 Brook Street. The artist’s representation of a post-industrial society via a scattering of forgotten products of consumption projected via video onto the booth coupled with a display of his first ever bronze sculptures illuminated the fair with visual commentary on the future of society.
An installation view of Neil Beloufa's solo booth at Kamel Mennour
Courtesy Kamel Mennour Paris London
The Haas Brothers at Marianne Boesky
A series of otherworldly ceramic creatures by brothers Nikolai and Simon Haas called Accretions mesmerised onlookers at Marianne Boesky Gallery. The brightly coloured ceramics were developed by the brothers using a meticulous multi-tiered process in which a brush dipped in pigmented slip is dragged along the sides of a hand-thrown clay vase – at the surprising rate of often up to 10,000 times.
An installation view of works by The Haas Brothers at Marianne Boesky Gallery
Courtesy of the artists, Andrea Rossetti and Marianne Boesky Gallery
Priced between $6,500 to $75,000, several pieces were sold by the end of the fair, which marked the brothers’ first solo exhibition in London.
Taking place simultaneous to their Frieze showing, the Haas Brothers also presented their whimsical work made in collaboration with luxury décor brand L’Objet during a special private dinner at 5 Carlos Place, MATCHESFASHION’S brick and mortar London flagship store.
Additionally, they appeared in conversation at The Standard Auditorium at Frieze London discussing how their work merges the realms of art, fashion, film, music and design, with influences stemming from contemporary culture and lifestyle. Their work is currently being shown in Madonna (until 25 October), marking their first solo exhibition at Marianne Boesky Gallery in New York.
Alicja Kwade at 303 Gallery
It was hard to walk past 303 Gallery’s booth without investigating a stunning sculpture by Polish artist Alicja Kwade entitled Formation (2019) made in mirror polished copper, patina and granite. The work’s subdued undulating curves and minimalist form endowed the booth with harmony and tranquility. Nearby was Tala Madani’s Two Pink Ladies (2018) in oil on linen injecting the space with movement and life.
An installation view of 303 Gallery
Photo by Rebecca Anne Proctor
Nicholas Pope at Sunday Painter
A quirky display of British-Australian Nicholas Pope’s enormous 1995 ceramic installation Yahweh and the Seraphim lured many visitors to London-based the Sunday Painter’s booth. Oscillating between the profane and the spiritual, the strange anamorphous forms that arise seemingly from the ground up are also fun and cheerful.
An installation view of The Sunday Painter featuring a work by Nicholas Pope
Courtesy of Instagram/thesundaypainter
They resulted from the artist’s trip to Africa in 1982, the same year he represented the UK at the Venice Biennale, after which he contracted a rare form of encephalitis that left him permanently brain damaged. After a long career break he returned to his studio in 1992 after which religion became a dominant theme in his work.