Frieze London 2022: Assemblage

Multimedia artworks that explore nature, gender, consumerism and more

The highly anticipated return of Frieze London left viewers with much to meditate on. This acclaimed Regent’s Park art fair served as a peek into the most magical and monumental pieces of the moment. While the sheer number of booths initially seemed overwhelming, the artworks they presented were able to invite the viewer to form more personal relationships. This year’s artists emphasized the increasingly present utilization of assemblage in visual arts, sourcing unique materials that are not stereotypical studio-finds and incorporating them into their pieces to make work more accessible and experimental. The fair struck a particularly relevant chord as some of the prominent themes communicated through assemblage ruminated upon the climate crisis, inherent power dynamics within society and the overarching apocalyptic tones of today.

Courtesy of Rachel Uffner Gallery and the artist

Sheree Hovsepian’s “Model”

Iranian-American artist Sheree Hovsepian’s piece “Model” (2022) unifies lightness and darkness with a sweet and seductive balance. Composed of gelatin prints, ceramics, nails and velvet, the piece depicts three separate photographs stacked on top of one another, each confined to their own respective boxes. The top image of a severed hand facing upward is reminiscent of our intrinsic humanity and is placed above a spool of twine. Below the twine rests a photograph of a singular leaf. The twine lying between the hand and the leaf serves as a reminder that we are bound to protect our natural environments, yet the fact that the twine rests untouched symbolizes that the relationship between humans and plants could be achieved only if we make the conscious choice to act upon it.

Courtesy of James Cohan and the artist

Elias Sime’s “Tightrope”

One of the most alluring pieces of Frieze London, presented by James Cohan, “Tightrope” (2022) is the creative execution of Ethiopian artist Elias Sime and constructed of reclaimed electrical wires and various components on panel, including abandoned computer keyboards. This particular work seamlessly contemplates the presence of technology in our modern global climate, while forcing the viewer to ponder its necessity. In “Tightrope,” Sime incorporates traditional West African techniques in the wires’ presentation, such as weaving and braiding. The piece ultimately, however, represents not only an amalgamation of cultures, but also the universal experience of humanity.

Image by François Doury, courtesy of mor charpentier and the artist

Daniel Otero Torres’ “Las Huellas del Viento” 

Paris-based Colombian artist Daniel Otero Torres‘ five-part piece “Las Huellas del Viento” (2022) is an enriching and mystical commentary on the commodification and exploitation of the natural world. The title literally translates to “the traces of the wind” and that alone prompts viewers to contemplate the way that nature once was versus the way that it is now. Composed of acrylic paint alongside assemblage of corn leaves, seeds and ceramics upon burlap, Torres’ piece feels somewhat apocalyptic, as parakeets fly above barren fields. The stalks themselves are desolate and achromatic, an implied symbolic connection to the ways in which crucial resources are battered and abused in modern agricultural practices. Altogether, the work shines in its ability to turn bleak and disturbing subject matter into a striking and meaningful visual spectacle.

Courtesy of David Kordansky Gallery and the artist

Derek Fordjour’s “Swashbuckler”

Derek Fordjour, an American artist and educator of Ghanaian heritage representing by David Kordansky Gallery, presented “Swashbuckler” (2022), which ruminates on the inherent power of performing. Composed of a collage of cardboard, newspaper and various other materials and pigments, “Swashbuckler” shines a light upon the performer as a subject, and also the ways in which the background textures have their own agency. Themes of heteronormativity, masculinity and general power structures permeate this piece, challenging the ideals of society as we see a male performer dressed in vibrant hues with balloons in hand. Fordjour’s piece is memorable and thought-provoking in its willingness to relay to the audience that masculinity can be expressed in more ways than one.

Courtesy of Koenig Galerie and the artist

Anselm Reyle’s “Untitled”

German artist Anselm Reyle’s untitled work presented at 2022’s Frieze London provides viewers with an abstract and compelling conglomeration of neon hues and geometric shapes. The piece seems to comment on the culture of consumerism throughout the globe, using materials that otherwise may seem unremarkable upon first glance. When these materials work together, they complement each other in a way that is simultaneously industrial and artistic. Reyle encapsulates the spirit of the conceptual by pondering the metaphysical in his work, inspiring spiritual and contemplative thoughts within the viewer.

Courtesy of Lehmann Maupin and the artist

Cecilia Vicuña’s “Precarios”

The Precarios series, by Chilean artist and poet Cecilia Vicuña, consists of numerous small sculptures placed intentionally together, typically fastened with string in order to communicate the illusion of being joined naturally to the viewer. Each dainty sculpture is assembled from various objects, most of which are sourced from nature. Some materials utilized by Vicuña include stone, shells, wood and feathers, invoking obvious feelings of environmentalism and the natural world. Vicuña also uses plastic and human-made debris in order to demonstrate the irrefutable link between our natural climate and the impact that humans and human-made concepts have upon it. Each fragile sculpture is delicate and transient, as Vicuña initially developed this series near the ocean so that each piece would eventually be swallowed by the tide, remarking on the fleeting nature of life and the inescapable reality of erasure.

Hero image courtesy of James Cohan and Elias Sime