Friday, back for more, art blindness, pink is for boys, blue for girls, seconds out, round two… Frieze really is (stupidly) vast – didn’t see that one yesterday – to even hope to take anywhere near it all in in a one day session is impossible, especially if you are going to afford anything more than the most fleeting of glances to the many many pieces deserving of so much more. It really does feel like a mass on-foot follow-the-flow drive-by in here. “I’m bored already” said one woman busy looking at her I Phone “we’ve been in here over an hour now, it isn’t as good as last time” – this is a good place to people watch and accidentally eavesdrop on opinion, how on earth can you be bored with all this? Overwhelmed yes, but bored?! How could she get bored in here? Back for a second day then, and this really is stupidly vast, are you sure that big piece was in your booth yesterday?
STOP PRESS: At this point may we point out that this fractured review started yesterday, to make proper sense, if that is indeed possible, do please go back and start at the start of this year’s Organ encounter with whatever this Frieze London thing is…….
The atmosphere is a little different on day two, feels a little less exclusive in terms of the crowd, and we do rather suspect that your feeling does really depend of which of the colour-coded areas you head for first – the blue area to the right with all the video screens and the digital interaction presents a different feel to the pink area to the left where things are more “traditional” in a contemporary kind of way – the pink area is part of the “main” area, the blue area to the right at the other end of the vast vast (vast0 event is where the “projects” are occupying a vast enough space of their own. The “projects” area is frankly a little annoying, what with the dreadfully intrusive piped dance-lite gym music and the down-with-the-people live Twitter feeds and such. Patronising, annoying.. . The overall feel of the big area at the “blue” end is of some let’s prove were in touch with the kids and their technology bulpoop, trapped in some kind of giant sixth form art foundation gone b-tec art-technology coarse hell. There’s some kind of interactive gymnasium installation, elsewhere there’s big screens showing nothing, there are crowds looking at people doing interactive things behind headphones and black shades, a small crowd of people watching other people looking at things that only the interactors are party to – unless of course they happen to be a bunch of performance artists making like they doing some kind of virtual reality thing –is what it actually is should you be curious, I imagine you can probably find it on line somewhere should you need to interact with it. Does virtual reality need to be in a gallery? Do you need to leave your bedroom? Do you need to leave the safety of your living room chair (while father drinks another beer like he’s one a the few that cares), do you need to leave home for your virtual reality fix? Does anyone care that much, clearly they do, getting lots of attention. Get me out of the blue zone!
And, on the whole, the art that’s on the walls of the booths up here at this blue “Focus” area (even the name is annoying), with very few exceptions, really isn’t that great, some of it bafflingly bad (and conservatively so), how the hell did that get some wall space?.And what is that bit about? Is that an installation piece or a cafe that no one wants to use or a combination of both? …
The crowd seems different today as well, are tickets cheaper? Not a complaint, just an observation, the atmosphere in different on day two – and an awful lot of people are spending more time looking at their phones rather that the art that really is everywhere.
There really is too much art in here, it really isn’t possible to take it all in, there are booths in here worthy of an hour or two of attention by themselves, there are paintings that really need more than just a glance and even though well over three hours were spent in here yesterday (before the art-blindness started to set in), I failed to notice those red chairs with the extended legs or those impressive sculptures of first world war female munitions workers, or that bold demanding painting over there or that one there or… And that stag covered in glass baubles seems extra annoying today (or is it just the people cooing over it that are making it so annoying?), does it look like something John Lewis might put in their window for the Christmas season? “Oh isn’t it the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen” voices the very loud American woman – no it damn well isn’t unless you have a fetish for oversize Christmas decorations and a twee need for a life-size glass sculpture of a deer! “Lovely paintings” offers another voice, is there anything more insulting?
But there is so much to see, lots of good art, and it really does require more than one day to get anywhere near under the skin of Frieze London. Did I walk past that one yesterday or did they add it today? Some of the galleries are switching things about, sneaky bastards!
Those two Tracey Emin paintings really are impressive, they are a rare bit of that much neededenergy and commitment so sadly lacking in here this year 9as we pointed out yesterday), those Emin’s are seriously good – and thankfully a little more than another neon lit slogan – how many more artists making neon light slogans does the art world actually need? there are several more neon-slogan examples from various artists and galleries on offer in here, another neon slogan is about as exciting as another can of soup – you can never have too many paintings, but neon word art pieces? Enough already! Those two Tracey paintings are glorious, she may have the capacity to annoy now and again but those paintings – one in the White Cube space, a 2015 piece called “Spending Time With You”, and one in the Lehmann Maupin gallery space that dates from 2016 and goes by the tittle of “In My Landscape”, both really standing out as two of the most powerful things in this vast vast art space (and both of them almost missed yesterday, this really is impossibly overwhelming).
An exciting painting will always cut through the bullshit and there is a lot of bullshit here as well as lots of aloof-looking gallery people sitting at their tables in their booths and their expensive suits with their open-neck shirts and rebellious lack of ties with their paintings as props and their carefully arranged name-dropping books set out next to the laptops they’re (pretending to be?) engrossed in (to avoid conversation?). Carefully placed books all set out so they can illustrate how serious they are about it all (I remember a lecture at art school back in the day – yes I did go – a lecture about how having the right books on your studio shelf creates the right impression – no mention of actually reading them, just the impression the books would create). Actually the whole of this art fair thing feels a little like a performance we’re all taking a part in, everyone is posing, dressing the right way, checking each other out while being careful to avoid contact with the wrong type, press pass on show, who are you?
Back to the art on the walls of the (many) booths, it really is vast (did we mention that already?). So much to see, so to explore before the art-blindness sets in again like it did yesterday, things to sneer at, to snipe at, delight at, froth over or to maybe just slightly enjoy or be slightly impressed by. Didn’t notice that one yesterday either, how did we miss that one? But it does all feel very conservative, most of it feels oh so safe, so devoid of significant risk, of danger, no edge, it does all smell of mainstream galleries and an art market playing it safer than ever. Are things getting safer? More conservative? This is not the time to take a risk, no, not this year…
But there is good art in here, who’s painted that one, oh a Patrick Caulfield piece from 1995 (hanging in The Approach gallery booth), almost disappointing to discover that it isn’t a new piece from a relatively new name – but then there’s Kelley Walker’s Bose Glitter Stock, that is a 2016 piece, and there’s Jim Shaw’s Women In The Wilderness also from this year hanging there over in the Metro Pictures Gallery booth (New York) – Metro Pictures are in the yellow zone, the yellow zone is still part of the “main selection”, stay in the yellow zone – don’t drift back in to the blue one! Hans Peter Feldmann’s Woman With Lipstick is playfully good, Patrick Van Caeckenberg’s mixed media piece (via Antwerp’s Zeno X gallery) is another 2016 piece worthy of far more than a drive-by glance and a mobile phone selfie…
There’s so so much to explore, lots of exciting art, noticeable that nothing is on a really large scale this year, no big cardboard truck – harder to shift I guess, don’t go too big, nothing too bold, it is a rather conservative Frieze Art Fair this year. The cafe tables and chairs on the wall are amusing, and we should mention that back in the blue section Shanghai’s Leo Xu Projects space is impressive enough to linger in a little longer than the lingering afforded to other spaces
This is vast, Frieze is expansive, overwhelming, eventually that art-blindness that struck yesterday set in again, you can’t see any of it anymore – oh no, not another damn painting, enough already! Something like eight hours of intensely exploring and reactiing to art over two days, you really do get to a point where you can’t see the wood for the trees or the paint for the print, you want to lash out – and Phil Collins is being piped into the pink for a boy, blue for a girl lavatory confusion, and that guy from the American hardcore punk band asks nicely that I don’t namedrop him, obviously not street enough for his image – I’ve interviewed him several times, the penny drops as he’ look my way, “oh dude, I thought I knew you, you’re not going say I was in here are you?”
The Anthony Reynolds Gallery, are showing some intimate photographs of Richard Billingham’s apparently dismal family life in a Birmingham high-rise, the photos are in the Nineties section, did we mention there was a big nineties section to take in here as well? Really meant to mention Billingham yesterday, the photos of his photos are in yesterday’s piece on the previous page here They’re still awfully powerful images, and especially in this venue – a hard hitting reality bite in this vast expanse, reality jousting awkwardly with all the fun of the fair – and there is fun, some of Frieze is playful. Fake artists? Something to do with Martin Creed and a fictional artist made up for the show. Meanwhile a not very convincing New York Cop hands out piece of A4 paper with a headline that reads Desperately Seeking Stories”, must get mine out of my bag in a moment, there was no time at time, what makes anyone think anyone has time for anything more that a selfie with a fake NY cop before moving on. Wonder what the cop was all about? No I didn’t take a selfie, rather pleased to say I have never ever taken a selfie with anyone and you certainly won’t catch me doing it in front f a piece of art! That cop made me think of Martha Cooper, not a hint of a spray painted mark in here again this year – is an unwritten rule? .
South African gallery Stevenson have devoted all their space to an almost four decade body of work from Penny Siopis – cakes on a shelf in gallery? Now is not the time to mention that shelf of cakes in Cultivate that time, the art tart smiles when she sees it – Penny is new name to us, this is an intriguing body of work – painting, film sculpture, more of which later for we are now really suffering art-blindness and it it time to give in and get out of here and leave it all until tomorrow when no doubt more will be found…….
Shall we quickly jump on the shuttle bus and briefly go check out Frieze Masters? Just a quick look? Just a brief taste? Whoooosh, Frieze Masters is five minute bus ride away and almost as big and oh look at that! And never seen that Basquiet before and a close-up look at the magical line of several Egon Schiele’s drawings we’ll probably never get the chance to see again (pieces from private galleries off to private collections locked behind closed doors) and look at that and is that really a…. and over there and oh look and wow and what were we doing wasting so much time over in the blue zone and the pink zone and the yellow zone when we should have been here at Frieze Masters with the serious art and the powerful lines and the delicate glory and we forget the last eight hours, a spend a further brilliant three more in here when we only meant to dip a quick toe in. A brilliant three hours before the security push us out – and we’ll try to keep the finance out of it and did we see an afternoon newspaper headline about the pound collapsing and financial turmoil as we were traveling between the two money-chewing wealth fests? The apparent afternoon crashing of financial markets doesn’t seem to be affecting the serious chat over the sale of a five thousand dollar Frank Stella painting we can’t help but stand looking at while we pretend we’re not really listening to the ongoing transaction – the one and a half million negotiation in the previous booth had been ear-opening enough! Enough of that, enough already, this is an art fair and it is about money and sales but some of the art in here is just gloriously above all that. This really is where art really does excite, look at that! Hey look what they have over there!
More on Frieze Masters later with part three of this exploration of the vast vast thing that is Frieze London 2016… Enough for now, other places to be… Frieze Masters really is exciting, magically so, and to think we wasted two days in that big tent down the road when those hours should have been spenT it here, how foolishly misguided, all these treasures and waiting just ten minutes down the road from all that other stuff. Frieze Masters is where it really is at, this is far less conservative, this is brilliant! And when you get close up and intimate and within touching distance of the actual flesh of several Basquiet pieces like this then the bit of respect you might have had for one or two of the current crop of London’s street artists goes right out of the broken window. Art excites, can’t stop thinking about the line of those Schiele drawings or that piece by… part three later, got to go, late for a gig, art really does excite (sw) .
And onCe again click on an image to enlarge or run the fractured slide show (we’ll add some nAmes in a bit, off for day three now…..no time to waste….