ORGAN at FRIEZE: The ten artists or galleries who really did stand out at Frieze 2016….

Yeah I know, cheesy click bait title and lists are lazy things. And so after only four days the vast vast (vast) things that are Frieze and Frieze Masters came to an end for another year – well four open-to-the-public days, there was all the private views and previews before the unwashed masses were allowed in (at a price), but it is essentially four days and there you have it, all gone again, the massive thing swept away – such an effort for just four days.

FRIEZE LONDON 2016 - Portia Munson: Pink Project table (1994)

FRIEZE LONDON 2016 – Portia Munson: Pink Project table (1994)

And oh how Frieze divides opinion – as does our covering of the multi-headed monster of an art fair. The rule around here in terms of what we cover is that we make the rules and if we wish  to cover Frieze then that’s what we damn well will do (and hopefully talking about the actual art rather than the money and the business, there’s some passionless coverage out there). If we choose to go to Frieze on all four says and explore the art, the people behind the art, the people in front of the art, then that is what we shall do. You can of course choose to “unfollow” or “unlike” or “unsubscribe” and yes, of course you can question. Why Frieze was so extensively covered and not the many others jousting for London’s attention this week? Of course you’re welcome to question anything here on these fractured Organ pages

FRIEZE LONDON 2016 - Magnus Plessen: “Untitled (23)” (2016)

FRIEZE LONDON 2016 – Magnus Plessen: “Untitled (23)” (2016)

So Frieze 2016 happened, two massive massive (massive) temporary art arenas taking up a couple of vast areas of central London’s Regent’s Park (the sculpture Park is still there until January, free an there in the middle of the city there to be explored, not really had time to yet, stay tuned, we most certainly will be).  We’ve already devoted three pages to exploring Frieze and the brilliant Frieze Masters events here (well, as we did say already, we were invited, it would have been rude not to….) and there were the previews, if we’re going to go to an art fair then may as well be the mother of all art fairs, cut to the chaise as it were..

FRIEZE 2016 - Betty Tomkins: Women Words

FRIEZE 2016 – Betty Tomkins: Women Words


And now, now that the vast vast thing has been and gone again, now the fair is over all we’re really reading about is the finance and who to invest in and who bought what and well…. Well, wasn’t there two vast spaces alive and bursting with art? Never mind the price ticket, what about the actual art?  We’ve already established that Frieze Masters was where it was really at, Frieze Masters was genuinely wonderful, all those Basquiat paintings, and those exquisite Schiele drawings and Shozo Shimamoto, and to quote Emma, “still feeling the excitement of that Gandolfi painting” and those Gustav Klimt drawings and the paint of Howard Hodgins and that room full of the big Paula Rego paintings and all that living breathing art right there, art that art we shall probably never every get a chance to see in the actual flesh again, glorious art passing through and hanging here for four days as they journey from private high-end galleries to the locked doors and bank vaults of private collections, Frieze Masters really was not to be missed…

Frieze Masters

Frieze Masters

And what of the Contemporary Frieze, the main event?  Frieze really was vast, probably way too big, and certainly impossible to take it all in on a day ticket (let alone for those of us with press passes that let us go back again and again over the four days), Frieze is a monster, the mother of all art fairs and yes there are loads of things wrong with Frieze, yes it is very easy to snipe, to bite, to lash out and gripe, how on earth did that one get in here? There’s a lot of not so impressive art in here fighting for attention alongside the truly impressive, the really exciting. And as we said during that first Organ review at the end of day one  “Frieze is vast, overwhelming, a lot of it really isn’t that friendly, clearly I don’t look like I have art-buying wedge in my back pocket. There’s beauty in here amongst it all though, there’s some beautiful art, some cleaver art, some provoking art, the price tags might be much (much) larger and I’m really not that convinced that there’s anything better in here than the art we encounter in the back streets, studios and basements of East London most week but there is some fine fine contemporary art in here. But is that reclining figure as intriguing as Rosso’s down that basement gallery the other day, or Bruce Lovelock and his bananas? Are those womanly words over there as mischievously barbed and cutting as say Julia Maddison’s would be? Are those statements there as powerful as Megan Pickering’s Breadline piece that was up on that wall last week? Or that recent Emma Harvey Boys Suck circle that appeared at Debased last month? Agata Cardoso paintings with camera? Or is that precise piece there as pin-point quite as good as say a Clive and Hans piece would be?  Is there anything as good as a Ben Fenton painting in here? Didn’t we say this same thing last year? It is still the case this year, actually more so this year”.

AGATA CARDOSO - not at Frieze 2016

AGATA CARDOSO – not at Frieze 2016

And yes it was, on the whole,  more conservative this year, we’re galleries playing safe? nervous? Nothing really expansive, no real sign of any risk taking, but there was some good art, some exciting art, treasure that made you glow, there was some exciting art, there were things really worth seeing, we enjoyed Frieze 2016, art excites..

Frieze 2016

Frieze 2016 – some of it was fun…

And here, as is the fashion with these things, here are the Ten best things we encountered at the 2016 London leg of the Frieze Contemporary Art Fair (and of course it is ridiculous to even try and pick out ten – “Frieze art fair presents over 170 of the most interesting galleries working today from London to Tokyo and Berlin to New York ” and no, we don’t think we saw everything, it simply wasn’t possible, we did try though, I suspect we put the effort in to seeing more than most did…

HERE THEN AT THE TEN BEST THINGS FROM FRIEZE 2016 (in no particular order)

1: The paintings/pieces of Lucy Dodd in the David Lewis Gallery (New York) cube are glorious – large mixed media pieces, rich blues on whites, golds and beautiful and spatial, delicate, strong, bold, big, fragile – no not fragile, delicate splatter, careful texture – she’s New York based as well, I rather suspect her pieces really need to been seen without all the noise of Frieze, shut me in a room with these beautifully detailed pieces for a day or two  please, no interruptions, no noise, just me and these glorious pieces of art.  Her paintings (are they paintings?) really don’t make a noise, they aren’t loud, but they’re not delicate either, they’re not silient, they do glow, they hum, they’re delicious, squid ink? Fermented tea? I love texture, I love colour, I love painting! Intoxicating, Lucy Dodd’s art excited in the unobtrusive David Lewis cube, it would have been so easy to walk by, just glance, Frieze really is just impossibly big and another encounter with Lucy Dodd is needed as soon as humanly possible… wonderful.

FRIEZE LONDON 2016: Lucy Dodd

FRIEZE LONDON 2016: Lucy Dodd

2: P.P.O.W. – New York’s P.P.O.W gallery (politely) excites, There’s some strong charcoal plant drawings, and and that collection of pink from Portia Munson, that table can’t fail to excite – “looks like she’s turned most of Instagram pink this morning” we noted after day one)  “P.O.W.W is pleased to present important works by Portia Munson, Erin m Riley, Carolee Schneemann, Aurel Sshmidt, Betty Tomkins, Carrie Mae Weems and Martin Wong. Emphazing works created in the 1990s as well as younger artists who came of age on the cusp of a new century, our presentation will explore the complexity of female identity” – really could spend a day just taking in the art in the P.O.W.W. cube. Alongside, Portia Munson’s Pink Project table (1994), the obvious star piece of Frieze this year, Betty Tomkin’s ever evolving text-based Women Words is powerful, maybe not as inward looking and not quite as barbed Julia Maddison’s work, and possibly not quite as powerful, but that is a striking wall and there is a tension there (and for London her evolving wall features particularly British words)    And the three large mixed media charcoal-based drawings of Aurel Sshmidt are wonderful, of course they are, of course I’m going to love the mix of leaf growth and decay, the beauty of it all, the layers of growth (I like layers of growth) – a new name to us, Aurel’s large drawings are wonderful as are the layers to be found in there if you let yourself peel those layers back – her questions, her intricate pencil, her bold charcoal… Everything in the P.O.W.W space is worthy of far more time than most of the art at this year’s Frieze, wrong of us just to pick out three, certainly the stand out gallery space of the fair  – Further exploring

FRIEZE LONDON 2016 - Aurel Sshmidt

FRIEZE LONDON 2016 – Aurel Sshmidt

4: The Juan Araujo pieces over in the Stephen Friedman Gallery cube excite as well, two pieces in particular, unassuming at first in all the noise of the fair but there are these two beautiful paintings that really do call you over and invite you to then explore an impressive body of work that kind explores notions of art history from the artist  –  “At Frieze London we will present a solo exhibition of work by Venezuelan artist Juan Araujo – born in 1971 in Caracas, he now lives and works in Lisbon, Portugal. . Since 1998, Araujo’s practice has been dedicated to artistic appropriations. This exhibition will feature paintings and installations inspired by colour theory and artists including Mark Rothko, Josef Albers and Piet Mondrian.- further exploring

FRIEZE LONDON 2016 - Juan Araujo

FRIEZE LONDON 2016 – Juan Araujo

5: And for number five, over to painter Emma Harvey – “As for my favourites in the contemporary art fair (not fair I can’t include the Masters…) I think it would be the Johannes Kahrs painting (via Zeno-X gallery, Antwerp), the tiny little oil painting ‘Bra Marks’  – by Nolan Simon (2016), really love the painting of the marks, it really was about A6 size (and he’s apparently from the US midwest).. the Cindy Sherman giant photos, Penny Siopis Column Cake sculpture piece and I really did like the Seung-taek Lee scultpures of the tied up boulders… but that’s just five…  But that’s just the ones that stood out to me from my available photos that I can remember….if I have more time there’ll be lots more… “Johannes Kahrs was born 1965 in Bremen, Germany. He lives and works in Berlin.  Kahrs references a photo, a video projection or a film still as the starting point of his drawings and oil paintings. He catches fragments of images of politics, popular entertainment, and advertising to reform, re-interpret, and further fictionalize the represented idea by shifting tones and gradations of grey and black pastel, leaving contours blurred. As he experiments with the original form of the image, he detaches the picture from its original meaning. Hence, he finishes with an almost unrecognizable representation and completely new recording of reality. His work is suggestive and impressive, yet particularly ghostly and mysterious”.

FRIEZE 2016: Johannes Kahrs

FRIEZE 2016: Johannes Kahrs

6: The blue is for girls, pink is for boys toilet/carpet arrangements, yes it did catch me out… although it might have been the piped Phil Collins that threw the curveball? Carpet crawlers heading? Is that lambswool under my naked feet? We’ve got to get in to get out…There was a number of playful elements this year, you might say the carpet made a serious point in a playful way, and, yes, well worth a mention in the ten best things round up.
FRIEZE 2016 - Tracey Emin

FRIEZE 2016 – Tracey Emin

7: Tracey Emin – Whatever you might think of her, and however bored you might be by yet another text-based neon sign, and yes, she does say some very silly things alongside many rather passionately good things, as unfashionable as it may be to say it, the Tracey Emin paintings on show this year really could not be ignored  Here’s some words from the second day Organ review – “Those two Tracey Emin paintings really are impressive,  they are a rare bit of that much needed energy and commitment so sadly lacking in here this year, those Emin’s are seriously seriously good – and thankfully a little more than just 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 at Frieze 2016 – 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”, are both so alive and some so full of life, 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 fair really is impossibly overwhelming).
FRIEZE LONDON 2016 - Magnus Plessen: “Untitled (23)” (2016)

FRIEZE LONDON 2016 – Magnus Plessen: “Untitled (23)” (2016)

1:  The Magnus Plessen piece – “untitled (23)” (2016) also on the wall of the White Cube space – “Magnus Plessen makes paintings that shift fluidly between abstraction and representation. Using a diverse range of painterly methods and dynamic compositions, his works are studies on perception, structure, material and transience”, that really is a gloriously intriguing piece of work, and yes deliciously painterly. you have to love paint, the applying of paint, the movement of paint – saw it on day one, it was the first thing I wanted ot see again on day two   . further exploring
FRIEZE LONDON 2016 - William Kentridge

FRIEZE LONDON 2016 – William Kentridge

8  The untitled (1971) torn poster piece of Raymond Hains on the wall of the (rather unfriendly) Gallerie Max Hetzier (Berlin/New York), The large (simplistic?) black stainless steel pieces of William Kentridge taking up a whole wall of their own, the totem pole with the table football game in the middle of it – from ShanghArt gallery (Shanghai) that totem pole kind of excited. That big broken bell over there, that red painting on that wall – hey look picking out ten is ridiculous….   There’s Jim Shaw’s Women In The Wilderness (also painted this year) hanging there over in the Metro Pictures Gallery booth (New York), Shanghai’s Leo Xu Projects space is impressive enough to linger in a little longer than the lingering afforded to other spaces, Kelley Walker‘s “Bose Glitter Stock” (2016) deserves more than this one line mention as well, Peter Schoolwoerth’s two big bright paintings…. oh look there’s far too many fine things to just pick out ten, there was four decades Penny Siopis offered by South African gallery Stevenson, Brazilian Leda Gatunda with those pop art pieces, or were they rock art, Iron Maiden logos next to Scorpions at Frieze? We nearly had blackout – And whe was behine those big paintings and the blue rope in the Simon Lee Gallery space? Those pieces were powerfully exciting. There was Jiri Dooupil, and then there was Ryan Mosley’s painting The Architect in the Alison Jacques space, really is stupidly impossible to pick out then (although there were some disappointments this year as well, the Kate MacGarry gallery wasn’t as striking as last year). Donna Huanca’s blue piece deserved more than this quick word…
FRIEZE LONDON 2016 - Richard Billingham

FRIEZE LONDON 2016 – Richard Billingham

9: The Anthony Reynolds Gallery are showing some of the 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?   They’re still awfully powerful images, and especially in this venue – a hard hitting reality bite in this vast expanse of money, a bite od reality jousting awkwardly with all the fun of the fair – and there is fun, some of Frieze is playful, Richard Billingham’s work is not playful.
JEAN-MICHEL BASQUIAT - Back Of The Neck (1983) at Frieze Masters

JEAN-MICHEL BASQUIAT – Back Of The Neck (1983) at Frieze Masters

10: Frieze Masters – And then after two days and many hours of probing and poking and now and again delighting at the vast (vast) vastness of the contemporary art fair that is Frieze London 2016, you kick yourself for wasting all that art-exploring time when you really should have been in here from the b of bang. The whole of the four days of Frieze should have been spent in here, never mind virtual reality blue zone playgrounds or a Christmas shop window decoration deer or a black sheep in a tank, never mind the table of pretty pink things however exciting Portia Munson’s table was. Never mind the disappointment of a football shirt hanging on a wall, all that pales in to little more than the conservative support act, all blown away once the main band comes on. The Contemporary art fair a short walk own the road all out of the window and out of your mind as soon as you find yourself close up and intimate with that beautifully unbroken Egon Schiele line that’s hanging right there, (right there! Right in front of you, and there’s another one!) Right there, just quietly hanging right there next to a delicately powerful Gustav Klimt drawing, look at that Klimt drawing!  Never mind all that stuff in the other aircraft hangar of a tent, this is where it really was at this week! There are things in here we’re probably never ever going to get to see in the flesh again, there’s once in a lifetime opportunities everywhere you look, pieces from private galleries on the other side of the globe heading for private collections never to see the light of day again, that wonderful Schiele drawing there with the red “sold” dot on it,  that it really really is a privilege to have been able to see for real (not reproduced in a book or a print or on-line and digitally devastated, the real leaving breathing thing actually there, to look at, to see the texture of the paper, to look at the marks (where are the guide marks? One take, really?!) and get a sense of it being made, to actually feel the artist handling the crayon and paper… read on
Shozo Shimamoto at Frieze Masters

Shozo Shimamoto at Frieze Masters

So Frieze London, 2016 – it was more conservative than last year, it was polite, it was too big to really hope to take it all in. There was some wonderful art, and art, even in a place like this, really is not about the price tag and who’s collecting what, art is about paint, passion, emotion, commitment, sacrifice, colour, art is about so many things, why do so many spend more time looking at the price tag than they do the piece?  Art excites, glad we came along (again), bring on Frieze 1017, art really does excite, it it doesn’t then you really aren’t alive, we had a good time, we’re still buzzing, art excites!  (SW)
And here’s a selection of fractured photos of some of the pieces mentioned today, but hey, to select ten is impossible, go explore our Frieze Masters piece and the previous Organ pieces on Frieze from Thursday and Friday…. art excites us…
Click on an image to enlarge or run the fractured slide show


One thought on “ORGAN at FRIEZE: The ten artists or galleries who really did stand out at Frieze 2016….

  1. Pingback: ORGAN THING: The best of Frieze then, now the dust has settled, the top Nine things encountered at Frieze 2017… | THE ORGAN

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