n spite of a somewhat cooler market, this year’s Frieze Art Fair is as eye-popping a jamboree as ever. Just beyond Elmgreen and Dragset’s (replica) Asian boy suspended on a high diving board at the fair’s entrance, take a turn down a pristine narrow
In spite of a somewhat cooler market, this year’s Frieze Art Fair is as eye-popping a jamboree as ever. Just beyond Elmgreen and Dragset’s (replica) Asian boy suspended on a high diving board at the fair’s entrance, take a turn down a pristine narrow corridor and you’ll find the hairs on your neck stand on end. Here Mike Nelson, the British artist known for his super-realistic, super-creepy interiors has installed what seems a sinister shrine, replete with rusty scythes. Other works that snagged attention include Sarah Lucas’s snaky blobby intestine-like sculptures made from stuffed stockings shown by gallerist Sadie Coles, who won the prize for best stand. There are beautiful delicate sculptures made from crumpled paper and powdered, sugar sweet pastel pigment by Karla Black, a strident black steel horse drawn carriage pared down to basic forms by Xavier Veilan while Josephine Mecksepper’s fantastically garish mirrored installation of consumer flotsam at Timothy Taylor is hard to ignore. Marcus Coates’ lifesize artist-shaman seems to preside over dealings at Kate MacGarry gallery in a sharp suit, topped with a horse’s head. Perhaps the highlight of the main fair though was the ever-brilliant David Shrigley whose surreal cartoons coat Stephen Friedman gallery’s entire stand.
Elsewhere, at various sites around the fair you can peer into the ground and discover the remains of an ancient civilisation dedicated to the worship of art and all its accompanying debauchery. This special project by Cartier Award winner Simon Fujiwara unravels a story of familiar contemporary artworld fixations: money, sex and power. Other special commissions courtesy of Frieze include the fuscia pink colour coding of the ticket booth, which runs from the neon lighting to the staff’s neckerchiefs, by Matthew Darbyshire, the young British artist whose work explores the dark side of ubiquitous design. Hulking around the fair like a carnival float is Spartacus Chetwynd’s cat bus, a mammoth feline with a Cheshire cat grin powered by her troupe of performers. Annika Strom, another Frieze commission, has also come up with an ambulatory project: a team of embarrassed men, wandering around looking sheepish.
Beyond the hubbub of the major dealers with big name artists, Frieze’s recent addition Frame, a section sponsored by COS dedicated to young galleries showing work by just one artist each, proved the fair’s best bit. Look out for Frank Haines’ vivid red and blue photos of occultish symbols and ritualistic objects, Salvatore Arancio’s intricate etchings of volcanic landscapes and AIDS 3D’s arrangement of kitsch fountains, spouting water with spinning wheels and flashing lights behind a heavy curtain.
Text by Skye Sherwin