The Stephen Friedman Gallery have just announced they’re on the move, not moving that far, just around the corner, and not quite yet, but they are on the move in a rather impressively ambitious way – “after 27 years at its current home on Old Burlington Street in Mayfair, Stephen Friedman Gallery announces that it will expand and relocate to neighbouring 5-6 Cork Street, Mayfair in the Autumn of 2023”. The announcemt was made today, and yes, we can’t really be thinking about Autumn 2023 here on the first day of December 2022, I mean, we’re not really thinking any further than this weekend’s Art Car Boot Fair that opened at 6pm today, Thursday 1st December and goes on until midnight on Sunday 4th –
The new location for the often very rewarding Stephen Friedman Gallery “will be designed by award-winning London architectural firm David Kohn Architects and will support the gallery’s ambitious plans for growth. Key developments in the building will include large bespoke galleries and a new mezzanine level. Externally, a landscaped courtyard garden will create a new space for the presentation of outdoor sculpture. Other features include a variety of offices, purpose-built flexible areas for working, a library, private viewing rooms and spaces for visitors to dwell and congregate, including a specially designed kiosk”.
Stephen Friedman Gallery represents 35 artists and estates from around the world including Mamma Andersson, Juan Araujo, Tonico Lemos Auad, Leilah Babirye, Jonathan Baldock, Stephan Balkenhol, Sarah Ball, Claire Barclay, Melvin Edwards, Andreas Eriksson, Manuel Espinosa, Denzil Forrester, Tom Friedman, Kendell Geers, Wayne Gonzales, Channing Hansen, Holly Hendry, Thomas Hirschhorn, Jim Hodges, Tau Lewis, Ilona Keserü, Rivane Neuenschwander, Ged Quinn, Deborah Roberts, Yinka Shonibare, David Shrigley, Jiro Takamatsu, Kehinde Wiley and Luiz Zerbini. Artists who have joined the gallery recently include Caroline Coon; Jeffrey Gibson; Hulda Guzmán; Izumi Kato; Anne Rothenstein and Caroline Walker.
And now you might be wondering why this piece of news concerning what most would consider a high end establishment London gallery is being featured here. The answer is simple really, as high end and as entrenched in the London establishment as Stephen Friedman Gallery is, we’ve walked into their shows on numerous occasions and experiences some of the best art we’ve seen in London and all without paying a single penny to do so, something that could very easily be taken completely for granted and indeed is taken for granted by so many of us. We’re fans of the gallery, we make no secret of it, we certainly don’t take the West End art galleries for granted, the good ones are worth celebrating, and this new space sounds exciting to us, if it means even more of what we’ve experience from the gallery over the last few years then yes, we’ll shout about it here.
“The Gallery is delighted to be working on the development with The Pollen Estate, which is committed to the progressive evolution of its buildings and streets in Mayfair. The estate aims to continue to enhance Cork Street’s status as a global destination for modern and contemporary art.” David Kohn Architects has worked with arts institutions such as the V&A, ICA, Whitechapel Gallery, Christie’s and Sotheby’s, as well as commercial galleries. This is the Gallery’s second collaboration with DKA, having previously designed one of its existing gallery spaces”.
Stephen Friedman said: “Our ambition, along with The Pollen Estate and David Kohn, is for the gallery to become a leading space both creatively and functionally. Cork Street’s history and its revival as an arts destination is a testament to London as a vital part of the global art world. We are incredibly proud to work with such exceptional artists and want to support them in the best ways we can. By undertaking such a significant development, we are creating a major pathway towards future growth.”
We mention this partly because we’ve seen some rather fine shows and some exciting pieces of art from the gallery in recent years, that recent Caroline Coon exhibition, the brilliant Jeffrey Gibson installation at Frieze, Deborah Roberts, Anne Rothenstein and also, because we really wanted to go back and have another look at Stephen Friedman’s presentation of Jeffrey Gibbon’s work at Frieze London back in October of this year. In all the noise of Frieze week, although we did pick it out as a highlight the time, it kind of feels like there wasn’t enough said about Gibson’s work during that week.
“Gibson’s work fuses his Choctaw-Cherokee heritage with references that span club culture, queer theory, fashion, politics, literature and art history. The artist’s multi-faceted practice incorporates painting, performance, sculpture, textiles and video and is characterised by vibrant colour and pattern”.
Six new mixed-media paintings, two large beaded punching bag sculptures and a beaded bust were included in the exhibition. Works in which, Gibson combined “Indigenous artisanal handcraft – such as beadwork, leatherwork and quilting – with narratives of contemporary resistance in protest slogans and song lyrics. The artist harnesses the power of these materials to activate overlooked narratives, while embracing the presence of historically marginalised identities”.
Gibson explains: “I am drawn to these materials because they acknowledge the global world. Historically, beads often came from Italy, the Czech Republic or Poland, and contemporary beads can also come from India, China and Japan. Jingles originated as the lids of tobacco and snuff tins, turned and used to adorn dresses, and now they are commercially made in places such as Taiwan. Metal studs also have trade references and originally may have come from the Spanish, but also have modern references to punk and DIY culture. It’s a continual mash-up.”
“Pop music is also one of the primary points of reference in Gibson’s practice: musicians are his elders and lyrics are his mantras. His paintings synthesise geometric patterns inspired by North American Indigenous aesthetic histories with the lyrics and psychedelic palette of disco music”.
And yes it did feel like pop music at Frieze, it was exciting, it was an uplifting a whoosh when it all came into view after a couple of hours of mostly conservative art, Jeffrey Gibson brought the the whole rather polite event to life.
ORGAN: Frieze Week, the obligatory top ten list – Jeffrey Gibson, Jadé Fadojutimi’s seven paintings, Ken Currie at Flowers, Gina Birch, Caroline Coon, Lee Maelzer’s beds, Selome Muleta, Emma Amos, that DIS bench, Madeleine Strindberg’s spider and yes, painting itself…
ORGAN: Our pick of 2021’s Art Things – Deborah Roberts, The Factory Project, Rebel Dykes, New Art Projects, the KLF on Kingsland Road, Kate Bickmore, Sam Nicholson, Gavin Turk taking the piss, Eloise Govier, Pez, Nicola Hicks, Christopher Myers and who else?
ORGAN: The Ten Best Things we saw during 2021’s Frieze Week, Deborah Roberts, The Pink Bear, The Factory Project, Kendall Koppe Gallery, Kate Bickmore’s must-see paintings at Annka Kultys Gallery and…