The Frieze Art Fair is located in Regent’s Park in London, this enormous gathering of the arts is held in a huge marquee covering a section of the park. This is also accompanied by the Frieze Masters and the Sculpture Garden.
Walking though the entrance to the gallery spaces, it is clear how much of a renowned art fair this is. Apart from the line of BMW cars outside bringing wealthy guests, the overall air of Frieze leaks sophistication and commercialism right from the first step inside. This was again shown to me when because I had my backpack I had to pay £5 to use the cloakroom or not go in the fair at all which I felt was rather unfair as I had no objection to them checking my bag.
Stepping into the fair itself it was very busy. Clearly it had a commercial goal and I could feel this as I walked in, buyers and gallerists were constantly on their phones and laptops and it did not seem as they were there to show as much as to sell. We started off by wandering around the galleries browsing the different artworks on display and taking down the names of some who took our interest. This became complexed in some areas as sometimes we were unable to find a name.
The work in each separate gallery section was hung differently, sometimes it abided by the rule that we have learnt as university students but sometime it was hung in a way which could make it more appealing to a buyer. This varied throughout all the galleries. Although none of the displays shocked me in the way in which anything was hung however I did feel in some of the galleries the pieces were a little cramped and this sometimes distracted and made it difficult to distinguish one from the other. I felt this was more present in the galleries that showed only one artist or the galleries that showed a mixture of installation and work on the wall.
The lighting was done, again separately, in each gallery to cater to the needs of the piece and how they wanted it to be shown. From what I could see they could change, add or take away lights in order to light the pieces in best possible way. This I felt was done successfully throughout each of the galleries as it was in their best interest to light the pieces effectively.
It took the group that I was going around with a little while before we found a map, I had not seen any at the entrance and I felt they should be easily recognisable and maybe even handed to you on arrival. For an event as prestigious as this I thought that would be a key factor to improve the visitor experience. However once finding the map, it became a lot easier to see where we had gone and where we could go, it was just as useful to have gallery names and it is always positive seeing a gallery that you appreciate or would like to look into further.
I found it interesting that there were also people getting tours around each gallery. Eavesdropping on one of the tours I discovered more about a certain piece of artwork that Penny and I happened to be admiring at the time. We found out that Darren Bader’s Sculpture 1 is one of his most prize pieces and anyone who buys it he will let them choose the colours and what goes inside the aubergine. In his own personal one which is on display here is actually filled with hair and oil, something I was not expecting.
My overall Frieze experience had good points and bad points. I appreciated the chance to get to see such a prestigious event especially for the price we paid, however I would not pay full price for the ticket without another intention such as buying or searching for galleries. It was great seeing all the different pieces of art in one place and I felt Frieze did show us an exciting variety of artwork. I was pleased I got to see Matthew Darbyshire’s work up close and I took away knowledge of display and lighting from each gallery I explored. Although I did not like the overall setting and feeling of the place, I did take away a lot from seeing new artist and designers who interest me and could inspire my work.
Photos from the fair
Matthew Darbyshire’s Work
Other pieces that took my interest
The first artist I want to talk about is Conrad Shawcross. He crosses a void between art and design creating steel sculpture creating a reflective surface that reflects both light and figures in all directions. I found his piece eye catching amongst the wall pieces I had seen previously. The display was strong, raised on a pillar making it just taller than the average person enabling us a 360° view of the piece entitled ” Paradigm Exploded”.
The second artist I want to talk about is Olafur Eliasson and his piece Polychromatic Attention. This piece was displayed on the back wall of The Tanya Bonakdar Gallery (New York) and immediately caught my eye. It was composed of 24 crystal spheres each painted on the back in an array of colours. I found it fascinating and took a closer look to discover that each sphere was propped on a iron ring, I could look up and look down to see exactly how each sphere was created. The gallery itself caught my eye as it encompassed a number of different pieces that I thought were cleverly fabricated. It had a big space to itself and I feel it a shame this piece was kept towards the back, however it did bring people, including myself, into the space.
The final artist that I found appealing is Jiri Dokoupil. I loved the Untitled piece that to me resembled jellyfish floating in the water but could have been anything liquid or water based. This piece was large and for that reason I felt it drew me in to look at its detail, I was even more surprised to find out it was done using acrylic and ink, I did not know that these medias could be used to create this texture. The colours were bold and attractive and worked well together on the canvas. The artist clearly has an eye for this.
I also discovered another two galleries along with The Tanya Bonakdar Gallery. The Sadie Coles Gallery grabbed my attention with its installation work, especially that of Jim Lambie who I have previously looked at and also Darren Badar who I talked about earlier on and also Herald St Gallery where I saw the work of Matthew Darbyshire.