Entry 10: Frieze London 2022

Last month saw the art world descend on London for Frieze week. They came in their droves; they came in their Aston Martins, their Givenchy, and Louis Vuitton handbags to both Frieze London and Frieze Masters.

And rightly so! Both fairs are the UK’s premier art fairs. When Amanda Sharp and Matthew Slotover founded Frieze London in 2003, they came up with a simple idea, and it was, “Art in a park”. I imagine neither of them envisioned Frieze becoming this established global cultural phenomenon in the art calendar that it is today. Every year, it is always jam-packed with galleries, and this year was no exception, with 162 galleries from around the world exhibiting.

If we look at Frieze London and Frieze Masters, both fairs tackle different eras of the art world; Frieze London shows contemporary artists, and Frieze Masters shows work that predates the 21st century – the two fairs complement each other and create this unique experience.

Both fairs are Frieze’s flagship events, it’s the one week within the art calendar that London reminds the rest of the world that it’s still important and it’s still a hub for art.

So with that being said, let’s delve into the art. Starting with my favourite booths: Timothy Taylor Gallery, The Breeder Gallery and James Fuentes Gallery.

Starting with Timothy Taylor, they had a solo presentation with Sahara Longe. Newly represented by the gallery, Longe presented viewers with figures going about their everyday life. In some works, we saw these distinguished figures in a bar having a conversation, and in others, we saw figures just relaxing. I describe the works as simply human. We the viewers are presented with this microcosm of our everyday life. What was also intriguing was the dimension of the works, it makes the figures look life-size. Such artistic nuances, in my opinion, make the connection between the work and the viewer much stronger.

Sahara Longe at Timothy Taylor Gallery. Photo Credit: Chard Adio
Party (Triptych) by Sahara Longe at Timothy Taylor Gallery. Photo Credit: Chard Adio

The Breeders Gallery caught my eye due to the work of four different artists: Ekene Stanley Emecheta, Kenechukwu Victor, Larry Amponsah and Lulama Wolf. Ekene Stanley Emecheta showed two pieces, and what was interesting about the two was how they contrasted each other; the two works had subtle differences with the obvious difference being the day and night settings. Kenechukwu Victor was another figurative artist I recently discovered on Instagram, a Nigerian-based artist; his works have a signature look with black figures having white lips and white hair. Larry Amponsah was someone who I discovered at Frieze this year. I adored his work due to its collage nature; partially printed and partially painted, the work was vibrant and colourful. Lulama Wolf was another new name I discovered, her work explores the human condition, and she uses acrylic and sand in her work hence the textures we see.

Night by Ekene Stanley Emecheta at The Breeder Gallery. Photo Credit: Chard Adio
Day by Ekene Stanley Emecheta at The Breeder Gallery. Photo Credit: Chard Adio
Esu VI by Kenechukwu Victor at The Breeder Gallery. Photo Credit: Chard Adio
Glory by Larry Amponsah at The Breeder Gallery. Photo Credit: Chard Adio
Lulama Wolf at The Breeder Gallery. Photo Credit: Chard Adio

But the showstopper booth, in my opinion, was James Fuentes Gallery, a solo presentation by Didier William. This booth had my attention immediately, from its materials to its colour palette; these coral humanoids were an absolute treat to see. Seeing these large works and these figures in the worlds that William created was gripping.

Didier Williams at James Fuentes Gallery. Photo Credit: Chard Adio

In terms of favourite works, we have Tunji Adeniyi-Jones, an artist who draws on his Yoruba heritage. In this piece, we see these voluptuous androgynous figures gracefully pose for us.

Violet Dive by Tunji Adeniyi-Jones at Morán Morán. Photo Credit: Chard Adio

Michael Ho was someone who I also discovered at the fair, and what I love about this work is we see a reflection from this pond, but a distorted one. In addition to that, we see the three stare into this portal. Ho treats space like playdough, playing around with these different viewpoints. Another touch I also like is the grey background juxtaposed with the figure’s clothes – this composition just draws you in.

Und alles rund vergisst by Michael Ho at Gallery Vacancy. Photo Credit: Chard Adio

Cece Philips and her piece titled Midnight Races was a great edition. Each figure we see is a variation of the other except for one figure.

Midnight Races by Cece Philips at Peres Projects. Photo Credit: Chard Adio

Diedrick Brackens showed these tapestry pieces with Jack Shainman Gallery, these abstract figurations explore male tenderness, along with the African American experience and queer identity.

ingredients for lovers by Diedrick Brackens at Jack Shainman Gallery. Photo Credit: Chard Adio

Derek Fordjour presents us with this exuberant and eccentric character with his piece titled Swashbuckler. In this piece, we see pictures of women dotted across the lower half. The figure is carefree in this environment and simply goes about his business. The texture of this piece is unique too, as Fordjour uses cardboard and foil on newspaper to create this texture along with charcoal and acrylic.

Swashbuckler by Derek Fordjour at David Kordansky Gallery. Photo Credit: Chard Adio

Tariku Shiferaw was another favourite, geometric abstraction is what we see here. The artist examines societal structures and hierarchy within our society. Within this piece, I see the examination of skin colour within our society, the preferential treatment of lighter skin tones – darker shades at the bottom, lighter shades at the top

On The Low (Burna Boy) by Tariku Shiferaw at Galerie Lelong & Co

Last on my list is Barthélémy Toguo and his ink-on-canvas piece titled Nature’s Blues. His work is personal, and it’s about the story of oneself.

Nature’s Blues by Barthélémy Toguo at Galerie Lelong & Co

So that was my Frieze. But the question that remains is, how was Frieze London? Well, I enjoyed the fair, and I’ll be honest, there was a large amount of figurative work, but that’s the current era we are in now.

People always say, Frieze London can be overwhelming, but I’m not complaining.

It is a fair that has something for everyone, and I genuinely mean that. It’s the crown jewel within London’s art scene; it’s the one week where the spotlight is on London and nowhere else.

With regards to how it compares to Frieze New York… It’s London who takes the victory. When it comes to fairs, you have this spectrum of overwhelming versus underwhelming, and Frieze London ardently sits with the former, but that’s not a bad thing. When you experience a fair which sits on the latter such as this year’s Frieze New York, it makes you crave Frieze London and makes you appreciate it even more.

So with that being said, I shall see you next year at Frieze London and Frieze Masters!

Written by Chard Adio
Contributors: David Ogbechie

Featured Image: Didier William at James Fuentes Gallery by Chard Adio

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