The 12th edition of contemporary art fair Frieze London took place last week at the always manicured and picturesque Regent’s Park in central London. With a massive selection of galleries as well as live events and talks, visitors were treated to everything from giant emojis in the Sculpture Park to dancers acting out Adam Linder’s “Choreographic Service No. 2,” available for hire by the hour.
With a decidedly young, fun vibe, the free entry Sculpture Park was likely the most joyful part of Frieze London and a shining example of the benefits of communal art projects, as viewers interacted with one another and the installations themselves. The Gabriele de Santis installation of emojis on holiday in “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” was overwhelmingly the most Instagrammed artwork of the show. Meanwhile the gigantic wood afrormosia sculpture “SMALL LIE” by New York City-based KAWS cut a sad, but intimidating presence against the grey London skies. The Victoria Miro Gallery showed Yayoi Kusama’s bronze “Pumpkin(s),” a motif that the artist has returned to throughout her career and one that perfectly fit the greenery of the park.
Some of the most interesting works inside Frieze London this year could be found in the Focus section, which features emerging galleries. New York City gallery Callicoon Fine Arts showed AK Burns’ beautiful aluminum work shirts. The artist uses sand molds of castoff button-down work shirts and old t-shirts, filling them with molten aluminum to create shimmering silver versions of traditional workwear. The sculptures effectively turn them from a symbol of manual labor to one of advanced capitalism.
London’s Limoncello Gallery displayed Santo Tolone’s immersive “Fontana Angelica,” a working fountain based on a design by early 20th century architect Piero Portaluppi. As the name hints, the original fountain would have been decorated with angels, but Tolone’s version is stripped down to just the plumbing of the fountain. What remains is a simple, structural beauty. It’s also an exhibition within the exhibition: Tolone curated a display of coins made by other artists in the pool, including works by Ryan Gander and John Baldessari.
Among the more established galleries, Gagosian’s installation by Carsten Höller was a knowing exhibition of works by the artist, whose most well-known London show “Test Site” consisted of spiraling slides in the Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall that brought out the inner child in many visitors. At Frieze, he created a trippy kids’ wonderland dubbed “Gartenkinder.” The immersive world was complete with a giant Scrabble game, a dice kids could play inside and a rocking mushroom—all conceived in bright, vivid hues that attracted the curious and cemented Höller’s reputation as a master of playful, interactive art.
Rosa Barba’s artworks at Gió Marconi of Milan and Berlin’s Meyer Riegger showcased the Berlin-based artist’s fascination with cinema and sound. Minimalist installations made of film canisters, projectors and a seismograph played with ideas of time and distance as they buzzed and vibrated, adding to the sense of movement that Frieze appeared to be cultivating this year. The regular stands at the fair were interspersed with areas that featured live performances and gave Frieze a sense of urgency and discovery.
AK Burns and Santo Tolone image courtesy of Frieze, all other images by Cajsa Carlson