2003 was the inaugural fair of Frieze London, and ever since that first fair, Frieze has continued to expand globally. 2012 would see the fair’s next milestone, with the launch of Frieze New York and Frieze Masters. For anyone who doesn’t know, Frieze Masters happens alongside Frieze London, in the same location, and is a fair purely dedicated to art which predates the 21st century. 2019 was the launch of Frieze Los Angeles, and in 2022, this year, in September, we will see the launch of Frieze Seoul – Frieze’s first fair in Asia.
So, the future is bright for Frieze, and we will definitely see further expansion into other continents – it is only a matter of time. A couple of years from now we might just see a Frieze São Paulo… Or a Frieze Johannesburg… Or a Frieze Melbourne…
But that’s enough speculating! Let’s focus on Frieze New York, particularly this year’s fair. Having been absent last year, Frieze New York is back! But as someone who has been to Frieze London last year, how does Frieze New York stack up against its London counterpart? Well, let’s delve into that.
This year saw the fair take place in The Shed, and across its three levels, there were 66 booths. Now, I’ll be honest, I was a little bit underwhelmed with the fair, and you’re probably asking yourself, “Why did he feel ‘underwhelmed’?” Well, like I said, “How did it stack up against its London counterpart?”
If we look at Frieze London, it takes place in Regents Park every year – it occurs in a ‘tent’. Every year, there is a multitude of galleries from across the world that exhibit work, and at times, the consensus can be, “This is too overwhelming!” Or “this is too much art!”. But regardless, people who attend leave with more than a handful of galleries that have satisfied them. And that was my issue with this year’s Frieze New York. When you’re so used to one extreme, and all of a sudden, you’re presented with the opposite, you leave thinking, “Hmm… Is that it?” And that’s how I felt when I completed the third floor of this year’s fair – I saw a lot of art, but I wanted more. I wanted to be fully satisfied.
I think what impacted this year’s fair was its location. The previous fair was held on Randall’s Island, and that fair had approximately 200 booths. A number like that is definitely on par with last year’s Frieze London and would have definitely satisfied me.
But that’s enough about the location. Let’s talk about the art!
Three of my favourite booths from this year’s fair were Victoria Miro, David Zwirner and Mendes Wood DM.
Starting with Victoria Miro, you had artists such as Sarah Sze, Flora Yuknovich and Paula Rego. This was the first time I encountered Sze’s work, and in particular, her sculptures – I adore them. Yuknovich had a London show with Victoria Miro this March, and that was when I first encountered her work. Yuknovich’s work oscillates between abstraction and figuration, the artist creates these ethereal landscapes which transport you to these heavenly planes. Last but certainly not least, Paula Rego. I first encountered her work at her retrospective show at Tate Britain last year July. Her compositions are rich and reminiscent of fairy-tale settings similar to something out of Alice in wonderland.
Next, David Zwirner. Their booth had an installation done by Carol Bove and it consisted of orange steel cuboids. In some parts of the installation, the cuboids can be seen crushed by orange cylinders or folded in on themselves.
Mendes Wooden DM was a gallery I encountered during my time in New York, and I loved their show with Brazilian artist Paulo Nazareth. Nazareth is someone who embodies the ideology of being an artist. In his piece, Várzea, the artist examines football and its impact on his home country Brazil, and its racial history in the country.
If we are talking about artists specifically, Ludovic Nkoth is someone that has to be mentioned. Nkoth is someone I’ve been watching for a long time; he recently had a London show with MASSIMODECARLO. I love the texture of his work – it’s thick and abundantly rich. He delves into his Cameroon heritage and creates these worlds that allow us to learn about him and the country’s culture. It’s the small details such as the hair follicles of his figures that tell us that Nkoth is meticulous when it comes to his work.
Lastly, my favourite piece from the fair has to go to Yan Xinyue. Her painting, Affection Under the City Light immediately captured my attention due to its colour palette. I liked how the red and purple worked with each other – the red maple leaves reminded me of fall. If you look at the top right corner, you can see a subtle mark which is different from the prominent colour palette, but I think this is a great addition to the piece since it diverts your attention from what is being spelt in the bottom left corner.
So that was Frieze New York in a nutshell. I don’t think my opinion on this year’s fair is unique, or an anomaly, because I spoke with people, and the consensus was, “We wanted more booths, and we wanted more quality.” As I said before, the location was the main factor in all of this. I think a better location next fair will allow Frieze New York to tell us why the art capital is New York.
Photo credit: Featured Image by Raphael Oliveira (Cajsa von Zeipel at Company Gallery)