ORGAN THING: Frieze time once more, brothers and Sisters, time to kick out the art fair jams…

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Dave Muller

Brothers and Sisters, time to kick out the jams! No, surely not? Not a day to encounter the Motor City Five, we’re off to an art fair, the biggest of them all in terms of London, this is not going to be a kicking out the jams kind of day. Jump on a train, get out of the paint drenched chaos of my Hackney bunker, leave Jimmy C to shake his cans next door and head off to the centre of the town. Got a note book here somewhere, words scribbled in it, names of artists, galleries, notes I almost can’t read now, sit back, make a cup of tea, let me tell you about the day.

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frieze2015wed_2I tend to stay away from things like Frieze, really don’t like art fairs, don’t really like the people who run art fairs, I’m a painter, of course I need to sell my paintings, I‘m a painter, I don’t like the people who sell paintings, really do hate all that stuff.  Frieze though, the mother of all art fairs, a great white monster of a thing in the middle of Regent’s Park, can’t just bury my head in my bunker and ignore it, let’s go see what’s going on. And they did politely send an invite and asked if I’d like to come and cover it for Organ (or at least their PR company did), and hey, leave the cynical smile at home, there’s got to be some exciting art in there right? All those big name international galleries from all over the world; surely the day is going to alive with exciting art? I love exploring other people’s art, love sharing news of it here on these fractured Organ pages, love writing about art when it excites like that current Pablo Delgado show at the Howard Griffin Gallery on the Shoreditch Road does, or that English Magic show from earlier in Summer, or indeed Play, or those car parks, or,… Surely Frieze is going to be alive with exciting art, surely we can expect that? Kind of looking forward to it…

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Tikashi Murakami

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The journey is was as colourful as ever, two men talking over-loudly on the train in from Cambridge Heath. How dirty are these windows! Clean the train windows, people want to look at the walls, see who’s painted what, spot the latest Sweet Toof! Clean the windows! Two men talking loudly, “an ‘undred and twenty five she said, and she’d do anything for yer, her name was Minty or something, two hundred and fifty dollars, I love these business trips to the States, Texas is better than ‘ukin Essex I tell yer! She said she was twenty six, might have been younger, didn’t like to ask, trying to get through university without getting in to debt she said, right up front about it she was, Minty or Misty or something like that, she said she was studying child psychology, she was up for anything, I think she enjoyed it, I certainly did, the wife would kill me, can’t wait for the next trip” The woman over from me is shooting withering looks in their direction, she turns to me, “a different f**king world” she says, “talking like that for everyone to hear, talking loudly in their fancy suits, I’d like to follow them, see where they work, city knobs, I’d like to stalk him, find out who is wife is, tell her about ‘im, the poor cow”. Liverpool Street, jump out the train, off on the tube, five youths dressed head to foot in box-fresh Nike gear, all carrying Nike carrier bags and wearing hats too big for them, they get out at Oxford Street, I change for the Bakerloo line and the green spaces of Regent’s Park… Oh look, there’s someone protesting Frieze, I attempt a chat, he’s got his anonymous mask on, he doesn’t have much of an argument, leave him to it…

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Adam Pendleton

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First official day of the 13th Annual Frieze Art Fair, the 13th edition, not sure when events became “editions”? Resisted the private view open party thing of the night before, here for the art, not the socializing. Mid-afternoon, Frieze has been open since 11am, steady stream of people making their way in, nothing crazy, just a polite and healthy stream of well dressed people. The ticket price clearly is an issue for some, this is an art fair though, not an art exhibition, why would the organisers and the galleries that have paid so much to take part want those who can’t actually afford the art cluttering up their white cubes and their corridor space? They don’t want the great unwashed wearing their Nike and not smelling right in here obscuring all the sight lines. Nothing dishonest here, Frieze does what it says, we’ll ignore the not for profit claims, cynical smiles left at home, this is about big name international galleries reaching their audience, connecting with their client base, this is about selling expensively priced art to the well healed, to the beautiful people. And there are a lot of beautiful people in here, more than comfortable though, plenty of space, not crowded, and yes, art everywhere,

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Where to start? That one there? Oh no, that one – bit of a sweet shop, colours battling for attention. Very nice in here, nice and polite, and so much to see, “do you need any help sir?” An almost overwhelming amount of art, painting to the fore, large paintings, lots of big colourful paintings, very colourful in here, politely colourful, paintings dominating, I like that, painting has been taking a bit of a back seat in recent times. Conversation all around, accents, languages, German, French, Spanish, broken English, “oh she’s a very important exciting new artist, one of the most important, we’re excite to have her signed to the gallery, her prices can only go up, a good investment”, “this is a new piece, do you know him, he’s new, we’ll be showing his work in the Milan next month, you’ll have to come”. Who are all these people? What do they do? Who are they? Where do they come from? Never mind the people, what about the art? Here to explore the art, leave the people, plenty of space, explore the art….

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frieze2015wed_135Walk in through the temporary white plastic post-modern, post 90’s big, very big frontage. It does feel big, everything feels big, important, importantly big and polite. Politely big, not show off big, politely big.  Get in through the polite security checks, through the press pass check (the woman from the Tattler asks who I am, my answer confuses her, she walks off). Through the security, “put on your pass please sir” A big tunnel-like corridor, a wide tunnel, black walls, nothing oppressive, polite, space to breath, herded politely along a polite tunnel, a polite tunnel for polite people to politely walk down. Black walls, slogans painted on the black walls, what’s that? “Welcome to purgatory”, “It’s no accident that you are here”, hang on, is this a little bit edgy? Welcome to where? This might be a little dangerous? A piss take? Surely not? No, there’s no room for humour at an event like this, surely not? The polite corridor was as edgy as it got, Frieze isn’t about “edgy” or “danger” though, don’t be silly! The woman from the Tattler is here for heaven’s sake! God knows what those slogans were about?

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No, there’s no danger here, no attitude, no risks, no jagged edges, no dirt under finger nails, and why should we expect there to be? This is a high-end art fair, (would it be crass to call it commercial?) This is about selling nice things to beautiful people, and yes, you can’t deny there are some beautiful things in here (as well as lots of beautiful people, don’t they smell nice? Awfully nice, not like Clare Street in here). Yes, there is beautiful art in here, there’s some bright art in here, some rather impressive art, some really beautiful pieces, clever art, refined, classy.  When the art is massed together like this then it becomes difficult not to view it as one whole and yes you do wonder what the hell that piece is doing in here? That one really is not very good! You do want to view Frieze as one whole thing, sure, it is a collection of galleries from all over the glove, all wanting to be individual and sell their artists, but it is hard not to view it as one whole thing.

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frieze2015wed_129And on the whole, is it really anything better than we see every week in South or East London? Is it even as good? That precisely painted red piece over there with those yellow lines, is that really as pin-point and impressive as those pieces Clive Hanz Hancock and Patrick Morrissey have been showing in various car parks and falling-down East London warehouses over the last couple of years? Or are those four guns on the floor over, the ones made out of bits of tin cans and such, are they as incise as the pieces Glenn Fitzpatrick (Fitzy to his friends and fellow Iraq war vets) has been showing? And what about that embroidery over there, surely the boisterous Julia Maddison pieces at the Tottenham Flee Pit last month had more to engage with? Fancy a quick what? Or those pieces Sarah Sparkes had in that English Magic show here in Hackney a couple of months back, and that precarious looking sculpture over there looks like Roger Clarke’s piece at Play, only not quite so right as Roger’s was, that base let this one down a little, Clarke’s looked so much more impossibly standing on that bare warehouse floor like it did, wonder if he’s in the Cavendish Square car park this year? It opens of Friday I do believe.  Of course there’s some great art in here, of course there is, be stupid to say there wasn’t, there’s a big Yayoi Kusama piece over there, a big silver mirrored pumpkin, of course there’s some impressive art in here, of course there is!

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Yayoi Kusama

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The Robert Rauschenberg doesn’t really stand out like you’d expect it to, a polite piece, something from 1984. Most of the work in here appears to be new, created in the last couple of years. The giant piece of black and white, what shall we call it? A painting? An installation? The imposing piece of wall installation next to the Rauschenberg, that big piece extending right along the wall of the gallery cubical, the work of Adam Pendleton, presented by the same gallery, Pace Gallery (of London, LA and Beijing), and next to the Rauschenberg, now that does have some energy, now that does stand out and impress..
And that delicate Kerstin Bratsch antique glass over there, that glass, hung like banners in a church, that is wonderful, and that almost cute Dave Muller MC5 piece makes me smile and Birgit Brenner’s life size truck made of small strips of brown cardboard (or was It plywood) painted white, the truck is fun. And look at that piece over there, I am actually enjoying this, art does excite me, looking at art excites me, exploring art excites me. True, it all very “nice” and “polite” in here, and it really isn’t the purgatory the black tunnel promised, far from it, far too nice and polite to be purgatory, it isn’t purgatory, I am enjoying it, I think I am? I am aren’t I?. Now if only I could afford a piece of cake and cup of tea, been in here ages now, I could murder a pint.

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frieze2015wed_204“You’ve got paint on your fingers, I didn’t think they let artists in” I’m not sure if she was joking or not? It is all very polite here, this is not the cutting edge, this is not the front line, this is not purgatory, this not where art challenges, this is not where people with dry paint on their hands should be, but I am enjoying it, I am enjoying sneaking around this world, of their, wouldn’t like to stay here, now that would be purgatory.

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How many men in expensive looking suits rebelliously not wearing ties while they talk loudly on their mobile phones can you gather in one place? All on their phones, all without ties, dealing away, all quietly though, respectful, polite, nice. “Yes, if you want to meet the artist, I can arrange that, she’d be delighted”

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All very very slick in here, nice, polite. Are the people constantly hovering up part of a performance piece? Their stealth is impressive, ninja hovering, silently, all in black, politely hovering, keep it neat. Very cold in here, not physically, of course we’re at the internationally agreed room temperature for a gallery, coats not needed. It is very cold in This One ow my latest royalty cheque? Okay, maybe not, but that bloke over there is, he’s dressed no better than me and he may look like shit on your shoe but I happen to know he’s a rather successful musician and his last album sold in enough numbers that he can afford your prices. People really don’t want to engage, of course not, this isn’t an exhibition, were not here to admire the art, this is a giant sales room, they hope we’re here to buy, they’re certainly here to sell, “this one would be an investment, he can only go up in price”. Artists should stay away from places like this; some of it does not make for good listening. There is some great art in here though, I am enjoying the experience, artists should come to things like this, and I deliberately left the cynical smile at home, I am quietly enjoying it in here, rather enjoying politely sneaking around behind the lines.

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Hannah Wilke (1978)

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Good to see the Hannah Wilke (R.I.P) piece from 1978, radical feminist punk rock art at the time, surely nothing more than historical now? Good to see is the flesh but I wonder if these gallery people have ever seen any of Agata Cardoso’s very personal almost disturbing work? An Agata Cardoso piece makes me worry about Agata. Guess none of them know she even exists, I don’t imagine any of these people engage in the art to be found in “our” world, and why would they unless someone who does the feeding feeds it to them? And those who do the feeding don’t seem to want to know about it either, Agata would be powerful in here next to this Hannah Wilke piece. There’s a bike frame hanging on the wall over there, but is it as alive as This One here that we had on show on the warehouse wall for the Play show the feeder never would dream of coming to? This One may just be a vandal, then again perhaps he isn’t? Bike frame? Bit polite that bike frame…

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Peter McDonald @ Kate MacGarry Gallery

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Does a lot of this feel like dangerously close to interior design? Actually Kate MacGarry Gallery’s electric blue carpet does liven up the place. Love that carpet, rather like the Peter McDonald pieces the Kate MacCarry gallery is showing, his paintings set off the carpet rather nicely, like that painting of the big car, sweet, or is it just the colour of her carpet? Whatever it is, Kate doesn’t want to talk about Peter. I like his work, it has a freshness, I don’t want to say innocence, but it almost does have innocence. Surely it wasn’t just the blue carpet? Do like people looking at a gallery full of dummies acting like people in a gallery, the work Tony Friedman, called Cocktail Party, looks like a gallery opening…

Tony Friedman - Cocktail Party

Tony Friedman – Cocktail Party

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Of course there’s not a hint of any spray paint in here, besides the pink and black mess of my fingers, I don’t know, what do I know? What am I even doing in here? Enjoying my afternoon, that’s what I’m doing, been in here for hours now, wish I could afford a cup of tea. Like that Maria Bartuszova egg the Alison Jacques Gallery have over there, the late Maria Bartuszova “a little known Slovak sculptor, revealed to the general public in 2007 during Documenta 12 in Ka Kassel”, seems she died as a rather unknown artist at the age of 60 back in 1996.  And the distressed chair and the hoovers arranged in a circle on the wall (plugged in as well, do they switch them on?) in the Galeria Stereo space, a gallery from Poland so it seems, and those pink flags in the stone circle, from another gallery from Poland. The guns mentioned earlier were from the Peter Kilchmann gallery in Zurich, so was the painting of girl, the blue one, the Dave Muller MC5 thing is being shown by Blum and Poe from Los Angeles, as is the rather impressive circular Tikashi Murakami piece next to it.  Brothers and sisters, time to kick it all out, the MC5 piece made me smile, the circular piece made me smile, Blum & Poe’s space made me smile, see, I am enjoying it in here, might just come back for more tomorrow (if they haven’t cancelled my pass), apparently this press pass means I can keep going back until it ends at the weekend… So much to see, hard to take it all in at once, been in here for three or four hours now, need to go, come back tomorrow,

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Laure Prouvost

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Impressed by the Laure Prouvost tapestry piece that London’s MOT International are showing, Laure Prouvost’s is one of the most intriguing pieces in here and then there’s Martin Eder work that Berlin’s Galerie Eigen have on the walls of their cube. Oh look, there’s a lot of impressive art in here, really am enjoying a lot of it, to expect real cutting edge danger in here is just unreasonable, to expect the dirt of the street in here is silly, to expect anything more than nice polite galleries showing nice polite work is just preposterous, but there is excitement here, there is exciting art to be found, a touch of exciting quality.  Yes, I really did have a good day, I had a “nice” time, no need to be anything other than polite about it and say thanks for the invite. May we extend the invite in return, you should come and have a look at what we’ve got, you might get a little dirt on your boots and the tea cups might be a little more chipped and it might not be as polite, and we might not smell as nice, I rather think it might excite you though. I had a nice day out in your world, but the art in our world just might be a little bit more out there on the edge, it comes with a risk or two, a little bit more of a challenge, it comes with the guts to fail now and again rather than just play it safe enough to politely be in one of your cubes, come have a look, it won’t be purgatory will it? .

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Thanks for the invite, it was polite of you, I had a nice time with the polite contemporary art and the nice people and white walls and the blue carpet, and yes, there was a lot of really good art in here, easy to snipe and be cynical about something like Frieze, truth is I rather enjoyed my day, I might just go back again tomorrow, wonder if they’ll let me in again. Right then, need to get on with kicking out the painting, I feel pretty good, And I guess that I could get crazy now baby, Cause we all got in tune and, yeah, it was alright, feel pretty good…. (SW)

The Frieze Art Fair runs from 14th October to 17th October at Regents Park, London. .

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6 thoughts on “ORGAN THING: Frieze time once more, brothers and Sisters, time to kick out the art fair jams…

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