Review of Frieze London

Frieze London is over for another year and now is the time to reflect upon the many works on display. Drawing visitors in immediately was Dan Graham’s Plexiglas spiral sculpture that enabled a moment to consider the art and the surrounding crowds. Perhaps this single show-stopping piece on view at Lisson Gallery’s booth served as a metaphor for the carefully curated array of art exhibited, as audiences were lured in by the presentation and then instantly moved on to see what was next.

In its 11th year, Frieze London’s new design revealed a more open layout with wider aisles to enable easier viewing. The number of galleries exhibited has been reduced from 175 to 150, though the concept of less is more at art fairs of this scale is not yet realised. As usual there was a lot to see, but this year the focus shifted from bright shiny objects and mirrored surfaces to paintings, sculpture, and installations. However, the opportunity for interaction was not lacking, as exemplified by the oversized sculpture, Portrait of the Artist (2013), by Jennifer Rubell at Stephen Friedman in which viewers can crawl into the “womb” of the piece.

Maccarone produced a fresh display of design by embedding the conceptual piece by Oscar Tuazon in the booth’s wall, outlining a hole with steel through which people can pass in order to find two fully functioning bars by Alex Hubbard inside. Meanwhile, Frieze Projects encouraged interactions with works such as the automated paintball installation by Ken Okiishi and the fountain of ink, which spilled onto white bed sheets while a “dirty” book was read aloud by a lounging Lili Reynaud-Dewar.

Stepping through the curtain at A Gentil Carioca Gallery led audiences into an audio-infused room filled with orange and yellow balloons where Marilyn Monroe was projected on all four walls and the ceiling. Michael Werner provided another chance to engage with the artwork as four people were draped in one big black dress for the 1967 piece by the late James Lee Byars that allowed for viewers to talk back to the actors involved.

There was art to walk through, into, up to, and of course from at Frieze London, besides the big black rock hanging from the ceiling at PSM’s booth and the black puddles on the floor at Milan’s Fluxia gallery filled with grass and trash. David Shrigley’s witty works on paper and sculptures at Anton Kern bring humour, whilst the glamorous Jeff Koons display at Gagosian was over-excessive and wonderful. Amongst the ironic and iconic were other note-worthy works, such as the spray painting by Sterling Ruby at Hauser & Wirth and Ryan McGinley’s 48 photographs from music festivals at Team Gallery. The fair continued outside into the sculpture garden where there were pieces such as a crumbled LOVE sculpture and a mirrored door marked “VIP”. Love it or hate it, Frieze epitomizes the art fair in a spectacle that supports the ever-evolving art world.

Frieze London ran 17-20 October 2013, Regent’s Park.

Ashton Chandler

1. Photography Linda Nyland, courtesy Frieze.