Following the reported chaos of its preview, during which a queue of invitees stretched a mile throughout Regent’s Park, Frieze London opened its doors to press the following day for the 2022 edition of the influential contemporary art fair. It brings together the most exciting, and sellable, living artists today.
Directed by Eva Langret, the annual event sees robust and worldwide attendance from gallerists, artists, curators, and critics. The public can also visit across the weekend to find work focusing artists living and working today. Outside, Frieze Sculpture connects the colossal tent to its sister fair Frieze Masters, where works by art history’s most important figures range from antiquity to modern art.
From the dedicated Focus section to the Damien Hirst veil painting and Paula Rego’s stuffed dolls, featured artists span the emerging to the iconic. Used toy parrots, a giant satin wristwatch, and single-use plastic cups suspended and half-filled with water, reflect what galleries must anticipate as a peculiar appetite from buyers. Several restaurants and bars entertain, while a Matchesfashion arcade game delights as winners claim their designer prizes. The publications section remains, in comparison, quiet.
Lined with work, the immense network of booths compete for attention with the spectacle of those who walk among them. Attendees can be seen adorned with museum-quality sculptural accessories, leopard print spiked loafers, and a fluffy shark hat. Confessions of wearing more clothes before resorting to central heating, public conversations are far from those disclosed beneath the canopy of the Frieze London tent. Indeed, an evasive feeling of normality remains, with collectors’ economic realities seeming to lag behind the rest, unfazed by the impending financial crisis. Rather, new works remain in high demand, masking an uncertain global market, with appetites satisfied simply; paintings sell.
A spotlight on Britain’s young female painters, an all-encompassing booth wows upon entrance, housing global contemporary and modern art gallery Gagosian, who present seven colossal paintings by Jade Fadojutimi.
Another female solo includes Sahara Longe at Timothy Taylor Gallery. Louise Giovanelli’s luminous compositions are featured in both White Cube and Grimm Gallery booths, while Carlos Ishikawa presents four paintings by Issy Wood, following its solo presentation of the artist last year.
In high demand is her fantastical painted arrangement of antique porcelain. The acclaimed Flora Yukhnovich stuns from Victoria Miro’s C17.
Outwards of the western cohort are galleries from across Asia and the Middle East, while Russia remains absent. Always controversial, from accessibility to representation, there is a strong presence of work by black artists. Indra’s Net, this year’s specially curated section refers to Buddhist and Hindu ethics of being to spotlight artists concerned with the interconnection of life. Some more than others, galleries did little to address the climate crisis.
Rivalling painting was an abundant selection of hanging textiles, with expert embroidery and skilful beadwork. Elias Sime’s Tightrope series weaves layers of assembled wires and computer keys into exquisite visual networks of reclaimed material.
Deconstructed surfaces by Shin Sung Hy break from the conventional use of canvas. This year’s artists escape narrative in favour of decoration, occupied by labour-intensive processes that push the boundaries of craft and art.
Most eye-catching includes a display by Stephen Friedman Gallery, whose beaded Jeffrey Gibson solo boldly celebrates historically marginalised identities, fusing the artist’s Native American tribal heritage and queer identity.
Amid it all, three impressive displays represent Scotland. Ingleby Gallery, whose historic Edinburgh premises is currently dedicated to work by Peter Liversidge, brought a solo presentation of Craig Murray-Orr to Cromwell Place alongside their inviting group presentation within the fair. Amazed by Lorna Robertson’s monumental Leisureline, their booth, complete with the galleries signature furniture, was also host to smaller works including Frank Walter’s Spools. Rawly-painted wilting lilies mark the start of their new relationship with American artist Hayley Barker.
Andrew Cranston’s My lover’s eyes are blue brings a taste of the Scottish Isles; an emptied café scene filled with colour and pattern. With both splendour and intimacy, we see Caroline Walker’s depiction of her mother watering plants inside her greenhouse.
Fluorescent and sleek, Glasgow’s Modern Institute brought irony, wit, and pop. Making extraordinary the mundane, a downscaled reinstalment of Jeremy Deller’s retrospective held last year in their Aird’s Lane space brings his prints and posters alongside a vibrant treescape by Nicholas Party, and Jim Lambie’s found jigsaw pieces. Also featured are works by Martin Boyce, John Giorno, Alberta Whittle, and Cathy Wilkes, among others.
With youthful edge, Kendall Koppe, the Glasgow-based gallery committed to representing those typically overshadowed, addresses queer identity through painting, sculpture, and photography. In black and white, are Mark McKnight’s formalist yet charged photographs of queer intimacy. Glasgow School of Art graduate Hamish Chapman transforms the familiar through paintings of everyday objects and the body. They hang beside Josh Faught’s playfully-arranged objects and woven baskets, one of which entices with Werther’s Originals that are left to take.
Elsewhere, is work by Karla Black, Daniel Silver, and Tracey Emin, each recently subject to sought-after dedicated exhibitions in Edinburgh.
Market tendencies aside, this year’s Frieze is yet again a magnified concentration of the ultra-contemporary. Moving swiftly onto Art Basel’s Paris+ next week, the global art industry’s London stint caught a glimpse of Scotland’s impressive contribution to the visual arts – with a fair scattered by artists born, raised, living, and showing in Scotland today. A brief but triumphant cause of attention, this international presentation leads with Scotland’s best independents.
With thanks to Danele Evans for this review.