How to get the most out of Frieze in 2,564 steps
Malcolm Cossons feeds the mind, indulges the senses and burns the calories with his suggested walking tour of Frieze London and Frieze Masters art fairs
If art is an exercise of the human imagination, it can also be an exercise in, well, exercise. Frieze London and Frieze Masters (3–6 October) cover 40,000 square metres over two sites in Regent’s Park, housing 287 galleries which will welcome around 60,000 visitors. While only encompassing a fraction of the numerous works on view,
this walking tour through both fairs is a round-up of this year’s highlights, which also makes a healthy donation to your daily step count.
The start: Frieze London
Immediately on entering Frieze London, you are engaged with thickly painted images by LA-based artist Sterling Ruby in a dedicated booth at Gagosian (E3). Turn left and walk along to Paris gallery Kamel Mennour (A2), which is presenting work by French-Algerian film, sculpture and installation artist Neïl Beloufa, who is currently part of 58th Venice Biennale.
As you head right, keep an eye out for Ryan Gander’s vending machine at Taro Nasu gallery (A16), which, for a fee of £1,000, dispenses a random artwork.
Beyond, in the corner of the tent, is the auditorium, which has a daily showing of the specially-commissioned work by 2019’s Frieze Artist Award-winner, Himali Singh Soin. Diana Campbell Betancourt, curator of the prize, which has been awarded for a film for the first time, said, ‘this will allow this emerging artist to deepen her engagement with moving image as storytelling… Himali will also explore intriguing and urgent questions about environment, history and myth’.
On leaving the auditorium make a left, past some of the seven live spaces scattered across the fair. One performance offering is a newly commissioned work by Shezad Dawood (L2), combining art, fashion, music and dance.
When you spot German artist Jonathan Meese’s unique take on a classic Western saloon at the David Nolan Gallery (D15) turn right. Then follow your nose to Simon Lee Gallery (E6), where Donna Huanca’s installation combines sculpture, painting, video, sound — and scent.
Walk on to Woven, the first of two curated sections at Frieze London. Cosmin Costinas, from Hong Kong’s Para Site, worked with eight galleries (W1-8) to bring together artists from different generations and locations as diverse as Brazil and Madagascar who work with vernacular, indigenous or underground traditions of textiles and weaving.
Follow this with a wander through the Focus section, which offers a platform for younger galleries. Among the 33 exhibitors from 19 countries are works at Tiwani Contemporary (H9) by British-Nigerian artist Joy Labinjo, ahead of her show at Newcastle’s BALTIC. Project Native Informant (H22) has an installation from Sophia Al-Maria, whose is currently showing at Tate Britain.
Time for a refreshment break
Finally a well-earned rest can be taken at another newcomer to the fair, the London and Paris restaurant Frenchie. Chef Greg Marchand revealed why Frieze is a good fit: ‘My vision… sits perfectly with the art fair… I wanted to celebrate the foods and cultures of all those countries where I had worked and trained as a chef and do so in a way that is relevant to today.’
Before heading out to the sculpture park, download the Acute Art app. Among works by the likes of Robert Indiana and Tracey Emin, is an augmented reality artwork by Koo Jeong A. ‘We are expanding the definition of how to exhibit digital artworks in different formats,’ says Daniel Birnbaum, director at Acute Art, ‘and in this case, a classical setting — the English Garden.’
Walk north across Regent’s Park — or, if have a VIP card, take a Frieze BMW — to Frieze Masters. Post-war Italian art features on a number of stands this year. Directly opposite the entrance, Hauser & Wirth/Moretti (D1) have dedicated their space to the artistic circle of Fabio Mauri. Senior Director, Neil Wenman explains the appetite for this era: ‘Working with some of the most significant Italian post-war artists, including Piero Manzoni and Fausto Melotti, we have made a strong commitment to Italy over recent years… The Italian market is definitely catching up, but there is still room for growth. It’s a great moment.’
With a history of innovative, themed stands, Dickinson (C4), which is situated nearby, celebrate the Art Informel movement with works by Millares, Poliakoff, Tàpies and Italian artist Burri, among others.
Next, a brief diversion leads to this year’s Collections section, compiled by curators Sir Norman Rosenthal and Amin Jaffer. Bridging Eastern and Western artistic culture and history, pieces range from works by Indian artist S. H. Raza at Grosvenor Gallery (C11) to furniture by Eileen Gray at Gilles Peyroulet & Cie, Paris (B4).
Around the corner, Trinity Fine Art (A3) has one of the most striking works at either fair: Botticelli’s portrait of Michele Marullo, the last work by the artist in private hands outside of Italy and available on the international market. Marullo, a mercenary and a poet, looks out with a modern, challenging stare — as Carlo Orsi, owner of the London gallery, told The Art Newspaper, ‘My dream is to sell it to a contemporary art collector’.
A right, then a left turn, reveals the work of Turin advertising creative and artist, Armando Testa at Galleria Continua (D11). Opposite, Hazlitt Holland-Hibbert (C19) has British Pop art from, among others, Peter Blake, David Hockney and Allen Jones. Their contemporary, Michael Craig-Martin, enjoys a dedicated retrospective of drawings from his own archive at nearby Cristea Roberts Gallery (F19).
The end wall of the tent houses this year’s Spotlight section, curated by Laura Hoptman from The Drawing Center, New York. Twenty-four galleries feature solo presentations by ground-breaking 20th-century artists, including, at Jenkins Johnson Gallery (H14), Ming Smith, the first African American female photographer to have her work acquired by the Museum of Modern Art.
And now to rest those weary feet
This section ends with a chance for refreshment at the Xu Taiwanese teahouse, close to Luhring Augustine’s (F5) exhibit of early works from Turner Prize-winning artist Rachel Whiteread. With Susan Hiller at Lisson Gallery (G8) and Louise Nevelson at Gió Marconi (H1), this is one of a number of solo presentations of pioneering female artists.
Engaging, entertaining, perhaps a little exhausting, a walk through Frieze this year reveals a breadth of creativity on display. After an estimated 2,564 steps, the fairs are a workout for both mind and body — and there is every chance you might also walk away with a work of art.