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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 15 August 2018

There is something for all tastes at the Frieze London art fair

Hosting more than 160 galleries from 31 countries, Frieze is one of the biggest art fairs in the world – and this year marks its 15th running

Last year’s Frieze Masters. Courtesy of Mark Blower / Frieze
Last year’s Frieze Masters. Courtesy of Mark Blower / Frieze

Whether you’re a serious contemporary-art obsessive, a first-time collector or a total novice, Frieze London art fair has always boasted it has something to offer – and this year is no different.

During its past four years, more than 60,000 visitors have flocked annually to experience the wealth of contemporary art on display and on sale in the heart of London.

Hosting more than 160 galleries from 31 countries, Frieze is one of the biggest art fairs in the world – and this year marks its 15th running.

Known for concentrating only on contemporary art and living artists, the fair’s exhibiting galleries represent some of the most exciting, provoking artists working today, be they mature or emerging.

Established in 2003 by Amanda Sharp and Matthew Slotover, two of the three founders of leading contemporary art and culture magazine Frieze, the Regent’s Park-based art fair has grown into one of the most influential events of the contemporary-art calendar.

Detail from Ai Weiwei’s ‘Odyssey’ (2016), which is showing as part of the Lisson Gallery’s off-site contribution to Frieze entitled ‘Everything at Once’. Courtesy Lisson Gallery
Detail from Ai Weiwei’s ‘Odyssey’ (2016), which is showing as part of the Lisson Gallery’s off-site contribution to Frieze entitled ‘Everything at Once’. Courtesy Lisson Gallery

The fair also includes specially commissioned artists’ projects, a programme of talks and an artist-led education schedule. Nearby, the sixth edition of Frieze Masters, which has more than 130 dealers exhibiting and selling older art, is being held simultaneously.

One of the most talked-about displays has been from gallery Hauser & Wirth: a recreation of a forgotten, dusty fictional local museum that shows bronze works borrowed from (real) international museums. Alongside these works will be bronze pieces from Louise Bourgeois, Paul McCarthy and Henry Moore, as well as bronze items brought on eBay by classicist and Frieze co-collaborator Mary Beard.

Dubai-based gallery The Third Line, which represents contemporary Middle Eastern artists, is also participating in Frieze.

Rashid Johnson’s ‘Airline’ (2015) shown by Hauser & Wirth. Courtesy Rashid Johnsoand Hauser & Wirth
Rashid Johnson’s ‘Airline’ (2015) shown by Hauser & Wirth. Courtesy Rashid Johnsoand Hauser & Wirth

Offering a group presentation of diverse works by Abbas Akhavan, Amir H Fallah, Hayv Kahraman, Laleh Khorramian and Sara Naim, the display will be investigating the concept of space and environment. Each artist interprets their surroundings or habitat, expressing their cognitive or affective "self", be that in a social, physical or mystical sense.

Shown for the first time, Akhavan’s unique ink drawings imitate plants indigenous to the area of his residency in Saché, France, and were found in the atelier’s glasshouse. Abbas examines the boundaries of the free and domesticated.

Meanwhile, Kahraman explores the violence of sound and the sonic trauma connected to her past as an Iraqi immigrant. Her canvas becomes a means of interrogating the power of sound and its cascading associations: sharply cut grids of slits across women's bodies materialise violence, while the foam backing concealed by the perforations offers the comforting idea of a sonic shield.

New York and London’s Lisson Gallery is, in its 50th year, offering visitors new and never-before-seen works at its booth from artists including Ai Weiwei, Cory Arcangel, Anish Kapoor and Haroon Mirza.

Detail from Ai Weiwei’s ‘Odyssey’ (2016), which is showing as part of the Lisson Gallery’s off-site contribution to Frieze entitled ‘Everything at Once’. Courtesy Lisson Gallery
Lisson Gallery’s off-site contribution to Frieze entitled ‘Everything at Once’. Courtesy Lisson Gallery

Lisson Gallery’s off-site exhibition Everything at Once, which runs from today until December 10 at The Store Studios on The Strand, is “an interconnected journey incorporating 45 works exploring experience, effect and event, invoking immediacy and immutability” of the gallery’s activities since 1967. The exhibition includes: a trio of Marina Abramović films, Freeing the Mind, Freeing the Body and Freeing the Voice; Wael Shawky’s final act in his epic, cinematic trilogy of child-acted Egyptian fables, Al Araba Al Madfuna III; and Shirazeh Houshiary reinterpreting the songs of the four major religions into an immersive temple to openness for the installation known as Breath.

If Frieze doesn't appeal, spend the Sunday at Somerset House, which is hosting the 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair this weekend. The leading international art fair dedicated to contemporary art from Africa and its diaspora derives its title from the 54 recognised countries that form the African continent.

At Somerset House for its fifth consecutive edition, the showcase will include 42 leading international galleries specialising in contemporary African art with more than 130 established and emerging artists.

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Two galleries from Dubai, Elmarsa and Lawrie Shabibi, will be exhibiting at the fair for the first time. Elmarsa will be presenting Atef Maatallah, Thameur Mejri, Khaled Ben Slimane, Omar Bey and Gouider Triki.

Standout works include offerings from Maatallah, which revisit the codes of narrative figuration through everyday images and characters. Maatallah’s paintings and drawings reflect the precarious existence lived by people he encounters in his daily life.

Lawrie Shabibi will showcase work from Mounir Fatmi, Nadia Kaabi-Linke, Driss Ouadahi and Zak Ové.

Fatmi’s eye-catching work deals with the desecration of religious objects, deconstruction and the end of dogmas and ideologies. He is interested in the idea of the death of the object of consumption, such as his installation , in which prayer rugs are attached atop skateboards.

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