I was really excited and enthusiastic to attend my first Frieze LA. Of course, as a European, I had to make some adjustments in order to fully enjoy the Art Week, such as driving all over the city instead of walking, as I typically prefer to explore a city on foot. But as the song goes, “Nobody Walks in LA”. And I was not sure what to expect; the former edition of the fair had mixed reviews. Certainly, the venue has been a challenging issue in a mega-city such as LA.
Many collectors came from Europe, NY and all over the US
This year Frieze took place in Beverly Hills next to the Hilton Beverly Hills – the tent was designed by Kulapat Yantrasast and his firm wHY architecture, and it accommodated 100 galleries.
On the VIP opening in the morning, the excitement was palpable, with London’s Art world blending with LA’s Art world and celebrities – I spotted both Pierce Brosnan and Gwyneth Paltrow. It was undoubtedly a success, having such a major event taking place in the city.
Many collectors came from Europe, NY and all over the US, including the growing contingent of LA-based collectors. The dealers were busy in conversations and negotiations – it was apparent Frieze LA was not only a glamourous place to be at, but a true marketplace where deals were taking place. Many sales were reported over the four days of the fair, including a booth sale for both Thomas Houseago at Xavier Hufkens and Camille Henrot at Hauser & Wirth, amongst others.
Walking through the aisles, I met many familiar faces, some of whom I had already met the week before in Zona Maco.
A fair is a unique opportunity to encounter new artists and galleries, and Frieze LA is definitely a perfect platform to discover younger and smaller galleries and project spaces through its curated Focus Section. I was drawn towards the work of Iliodora Margellos at Baert Gallery, a young gallerist from Switzerland based in downtown LA who brings young European artists to LA. Margellos’ delicate abstract embroideries with their rich colours and textures are like a representation of the artist’s mental landscape.
At Karma Gallery from NY, I was taken by Henni Alftan’s painting. The Finnish, Paris-based artist constructs very simple and detailed yet sophisticated images with a unique flatness and a full-colour palette.
I have been following the work of the Korean artist Minjung Kim for years and really enjoyed her solo exhibition at Hyundai Gallery’s booth. Using Hanji, a type of paper handmade from the inner bark of the mulberry tree, the artist creates compositions of subtle layers that she burns, glues and stacks together in a meditative and highly crafted work.
I had loved Anicka Yi’s “aerobes” floating in the air of the Turbine Hall at the Tate Modern and was pleased to see a more “residential” piece at 47 Canal gallery. Bringing together science and art, technology and biology, and her fascination with quantum physics, the Korean artist offers her playful and original views of the world.
The large oil on printed canvas by Anne Imhof at Spruth and Mager was mesmerizing, with a sort of evil beauty and musicality at the same time which keeps the viewer on edge.
There were lots to see and experience during the Frieze LA week, such as the Broad Museum definitely. Still, my preferred Museum exhibition was Pipilotti Rist at the MOCA: totally immersive, the show was fun, witty, provocative, colourful, feminine, childlike, conceptual, subtle, emotional, energetic – not to be missed if you are in LA.
I also embarked on a tour of some of the most important galleries in LA, starting with Hauser and Wirth. The Swiss gallery has a spectacular set-up in Downtown LA and will open a second outpost in West LA in the Fall of 2022. I attended the talk by Phyllida Barlow where the British artist talked about the importance of space in her practice, the relationship between her work and architecture and, the theatrical and spectacular element in her installation which was on show at the gallery.
On the West side of the city, David Kordanski presented a beautiful show of Jonas Wood: “Plants and Animals” done over the last three years. The exhibition shows the range of techniques, from drawings to collage experimented with by the artist on simple and mundane subject matters.
Blum and Poe had an impressive exhibition of Eddie Martinez’s large abstract canvases. The Brooklyn-based artist has mastered movement, composition and dynamism.
Brandon Deener at Simchowitz gallery was a great discovery: fun and daring, he masters colours and scale. The Memphis-born artist offers a spectacular outlook of black life with reference to art history while possessing a particular affiliation with Philip Guston.
As more and more galleries will be opening in LA in the coming months – Lisson, Sean Kelly Gallery, Pace, David Zwirner – LA is definitely becoming an Art destination.
Frieze has shown good foresight in betting on LA, and I expect the fair to continue its expansion on the West Coast. Frieze LA is definitely on my agenda for next year