Saturday, January 28

From Hidden Penises to Barbra Streisand: How Frieze Got His Mojo Back – Review | Frieze art fair

I I was relieved when I finally found the hidden creeps. Sometimes the first post-pandemic Frieze art fair is so relaxing you could fall asleep in one of its elegant halls. So it was good to see Lindsey mendick hoisting the flag in subtle outrage. On the stand of the Carl Freedman Gallery I find his glossy and decaying ceramic vases, whose wounded sides sprout octopus arms. Mendick should be on Turner’s shortlist for next year if Tate has any desire to save its dying prize. Then Freedman showed me another detail. Penises protrude from one of the pots like shiny wet worms. Turns out, there is sleaze in the new Adult Frieze after all; you just need a greater attention span to find it.

The art world has looked at itself during the pandemic. And it has been discovered that art has to be more than fun, noise, fame and money … it has to be sustenance. But how does a cultural sphere that has spent decades celebrating superficiality suddenly find its inner light? At first glance, Frieze has simply been stunned by shock.

The first thing that greets you is a relaxing installation of abstract paintings in shades of caramel, pulsing orange, purple, lime. These bursts of calm from the Los Angeles artist Jennifer guidi they radiate good vibes. Gagosian has yielded his privileged ownership of Frieze to this art of positive thinking. Sets the tone. Welcome to the Hotel Frieze, such a charming place.

Flying the flag of subtle outrage… Lindsey Mendick Pottery.
Flying the flag of subtle outrage… Lindsey Mendick Pottery. Photograph: Linda Nylind / The Guardian

Perhaps the market recognizes that what collectors want now is art as an armchair, in which to recover. Noemie goudalThe film about the climate crisis at the Edel Assanti GGallery, with its images of flames and jungles, has a calming effect, like a video home. Meanwhile, many galleries display paintings that seem calculated to reassure. Victoria Miro has a lot of pale floral still lifes that could have been done 100 years ago, although they are actually from Ilse D’Hollander, a flamenco artist who died young in 1997.

Wait a minute. I thought this was the kind of tasteful and sensitive art that is displayed on the high end. Masters of the frieze, on the other side of the park. Frieze London is where people come to check out what’s new, or a full carry bag if they have the fix. But art seems to have lost its passion to take everything apart and start over. The prophets are hedging their bets. Have we advanced since Andy Warhol? Apparently not, judging by the Warhol pastiches I kept seeing. Rob and Nick Carter’s 12 robot paintings They are not only based on Warhol’s version of Botticelli’s Venus, but emulate his desire to paint like a machine. Deborah KassThe Warhol remakes include a screenprint painting of Barbra Streisand as Yentl. And Kass’s work is decades old. She is clearly a feminist, but Frieze was in politics in previous years and seems to have made great strides. Taking into account that art is a few years ahead of the dominant culture, it can be predicted that by 2023 the turbulence of our time will give way to a Buddhist calm.

Deborah Roberts, whose jaw-dropping montages are on display at the Stephen Friedman booth, you might disagree. She is the most powerful political artist here. She portrays young Black’s identity as painfully fragmented and reassembled, a desperate DIY. Using the cut-up techniques of the German Dadaists, but on a life-size scale, he creates awkward composite people, made of heirlooms, with no certainty of who they feel they are. This is the modern art that people come here for.

Painfully Fragmented and Reassembled… A Long Way To Go by Deborah Roberts.
Painfully Fragmented and Reassembled… A Long Way To Go by Deborah Roberts. Photography: Paul Bardargjy / Deborah Roberts. Courtesy of the artist and Stephen Friedman Gallery, London.

On the other hand, contemporaneity is mysterious. This wavering, in-house art fair is true to the experience of being alive in the Covid era, connected to each other only online, spending weeks at home, drifting back in time. Gary Hume It seems to have been in your backyard a lot. His painting Moth is a gleaming pastoral of uncomfortable sensuality.

Hume, of course, did not go back to painting shut up, it is his job. It is also the full-time occupation of Waqas khan, whose two-meter-wide painting of an ethereal pink latticework on the Galerie Krinzinger booth plunges you into a maze of tiny lines.

Looking at him, I was approached by Khan’s Viennese gallery owner, who spoke passionately about his way of working and the emotion in his ruffled lines. I admire his idealism and commitment to the artists he believes in. Art dealers are human too. The best of them really love and understand art. And Frieze’s return isn’t just about money. The last time I left Britain was just before the lockdown, to visit Waqas’s studio in Lahore. I saw an early stage of this same work, and since then, I have missed this amazing artist. He may not be here, but his last job is to communicate with everyone, heart to heart.

This is an unexpectedly moving edition of Frieze. It reveals the passion for art and artists that can get lost in the glow of the sale. The art world is cowering, like everyone else. But it may be to discover the true value of art.

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