The Magic of the Frieze Art Fair

Above photograph by the author. Depicts the Frieze tent from the inside out.

Today I attended the 3rd annual Frieze Art Fair on Randall’s Island. The fair is held in a large, white tent filled with maze-like open cubicles where artworks from galleries around the world are displayed. When you enter, it’s hard to navigate according to an agenda. Even though I am not the serious collector the show is geared to, I had come with the purpose of seeing the revival of “Al’s Grand Hotel,” a famous conceptual art hotel that was a short-lived landmark of the LA cultural scene during the 60’s. This revival has long been requested of artist and the institution’s namesake, Al Ruppersberg, and so when I heard that he was working with the design/curatorial firm Public Fiction to recreate the venue at Frieze, I was looking forward to see the result.

Alas, although I didn’t make it to Al’s Hotel, I definitely wasn’t disappointed by the fair’s other offerings. Frieze is the kind of place where there is little guide and no continuity between genres or forms of artwork, so the average fair-goer, the non-hardcore groupie is left wandering spontaneously to pick and choose (among hundreds of ill-spaced establishments) things that appeal to their subjective aesthetic. To what end, however, is unclear. Nonetheless, the latter description is a good assessment of my presence there, and essentially gets at the show’s almost magnetic allure– there are infinite possibilities in terms of how to approach attending it. While some audience members might consider it impractical to explore without boundaries or an understanding of where one is– historically, contextually, logistically, whatever– I enjoyed Frieze, as it left me with the freedom to hone my taste rather than to decide if I like something just because it was written up in the latest catalogue, or a curator dubbed it prolific.Young and old individuals alike can benefit enormously from such an exercise in visual independence, though it becomes wearing after some time. A balance between the two systems– weighing more heavily towards the side of proper third-party direction– is necessitated.

Miscellaneous Findings

Ed Ruscha bleach paintings at the Gagosian Gallery book (see this example). I must confess, when I first saw them prominently displayed in the Frieze newspaper given to us on our way to the show (my father and I got there by bus from the Guggenheim), I was excited. I thought that they were really interesting because the wash that the works are doused with is so light and airy that it seems almost photoshopped (though in fact stemming from a technique of Ruscha’s own making). Up close, however, they are depressingly bland, and I like minimalism.

A series of works where the word ‘diptych’ was painted in the same font repeatedly, with each version of the word in a different color family and the letters in varying shades within said family.

A painting that painted itself– a machine of boiling water shook black ink onto a canvas. Speaks to the question of what an artist’s role is outside of his work. Editor’s Note: upon reviewing this post in July 2016, I suggest that if you are interested in investigating the latter issue that you read this article about the Whitney’s conservation department. Feature here, as well.

A lovely, yellow Yayoi Kusama oil at David Zwirner. Included her trademark dots (teal-colored) painted in ripples for a cloud-like effect. Quite gestural.

An interesting, non-art-to-match-with-the-living-room-decor (“art over sofa”) abstract photograph where a large, red square was layered over a quiet image of the American desert. Serene.

An Anish Kapoor bright red sphere thinly cut-out to appear hollow, as though you could stick your head in it. Kind of looked like one of those dryers they have at traditional hair salons (very 50’s vintage). This piece, as my father pointed out, was the epitome of perfection melded with simplicity as per its shiny veneer.

A wall composed entirely of plastic CD disks hanging in a grid.

Mini-mirror paintings inspired by Michelangelo Pistoletto.

Joana Vasconcelos-style mixed media sculptural installation by another female Brazilian artist, whose dealer claims is far more talented than Vasconcelos herself. I disagree.

Thank you for reading my first article for MolaPola! I appreciate your patience in staying on with me as I continue my journey forward.


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