Frieze Art Fair, Review

With over 175 of the world’s contemporary art galleries exhibiting under one roof Frieze art fair is notoriously exhausting and fair fatigue can quickly set in. Somehow this year it didn’t, which is quite a telling point for the success of the fair so far.

The mood, though restrained, felt more focused and slightly less excessive with each stand carefully curated rather than being jam-packed as it has been in recent years. Perhaps the star of the show, in this writer’s opinion, is the Chinese artist collective, the Yangjiang Group, who have teamed up with Cambrian organization Grizedale Arts. Together they have created a plywood structure, Coliseum of the Consumed, for food stalls and performances. Taking Nicolas Bourriaud’s “relational aesthetics” back to the forefront of contemporary fine art practice, the collective and organization have highlighted the importance of human relationships in the art world; something which many tend to forget.

One decade into it’s “fair life”, the fair still surprises and still disappoints: it can be overwhelming for collectors faced by the same artists’ work at several different galleries as there is almost too much choice. The Mexico City gallery Kurimanzutto surprised whereas the Lisson Gallery disappointed (in stark contrast to their stand at Frieze Masters, which did not with, amongst other works, a stunning John Latham work on canvas).

Leaving Frieze one is struck by the overpowering smell of incense as you encounter Joanna Rajkowska’s Forcing a Miracle, a field of burning incense. At night the smoke dissipates into the cold London air lending an (quite fitting) air of mystery and intrigue to the fair. Forcing a Miracle is , as is the Grizedale Arts / Yangjiang Group collaboration, one of the five Frieze Projects; curated by Sarah McCrory these five works have thus far been the most popular and talked-about, far surpassing the exhibiting galleries and artists.

Sales have been strong so far and, with Christie’s and Sotheby’s sales continuing over the next few days one wonders if the sales at Frieze can be sustained?

Niamh Coghlan

Frieze Art Fair is running 11 – 14 October, Regent’s Park, London, UK

1.Frieze London 2012, photograph by Linda Nylind, courtesy of Linda Nylind and Frieze.