It’s the time of year when London welcomes the glitterati of the world to enjoy the 281 significant international galleries taking part in Frieze London and Frieze Masters 2022. Frieze Masters gives a unique view on the relationship between historical art and contemporary practice, exhibiting work made before the year 2000, whereas Frieze London presents work created mainly post-2000. The fair focuses on living artists and innovative practice.
On arrival at the main Frieze London tent entrance, I was confronted with possibly the longest queue I’ve ever seen. Longer than the Berghain Queue on a Friday night in Berlin. An “important” collector to the right of us was so unimpressed by the wait they concluded that they “were’'t that desperate” and left. I, on the other hand, decided to continue a leisurely walk and talk through Regent’s Park to the start of Frieze Masters. This compared to submerging the art sea on the mothership rather than a jet ski, or beginning a day with a cup of tea rather than a jump-start four-shot cup of coffee.
I found the ubiquitous 50 shades of blue booths, filled with more objects and antiquity than last year. A highlight was the celebration of some of the female (abstract) greats—Joan Mitchell (Helly Nahmad), Helen Frankthaller (Berggruen Gallery) and Pat Passlof (Eric Firestone Gallery) and Vivian Springford (Almine Rech). My favourite moment at Frieze Masters 2022 was the project space hosted by artist Tyler Mitchell (supported by Gagosian Gallery). Mitchell was the first Black artist to shoot a Vogue cover and his work focuses largely on representations of Black joy and utopia. Meeting him, I found him humble, low-key, gentle and easy to speak to. Such encounters always make the work easier on the eye and heart.
Having laid the foundation for the art safari and following on to Frieze London, I found the acidic energy and the lighting stinging yet propelling at the same time. It’s a strange phenomenon that with such a vast quantity of artwork to see, my favourite artists remain my favourites.
Booth Highlights for me this year were: Mary Weatherford (David Kordansky Gallery), Kyle Dunn (Ppow Gallery), Heidi Hahn Jordan Kasey (Nicelle Beauchene). Barthelemy Toguo (Lelong & Co), Igor Hosnedl (Galerie Eigenart), ‘’ (Jaheveri Gallery), Ugo Rodione (Sadie Coles). My last stop was Frieze focus, which displayed galleries under 12 years old. From this selection I was most drawn to Maryam Hoseini (Green Art Gallery), Jennifer Carvalho (Helen Anrather), Louise Giovanelli (Grimm Gallery). Overall this year similar to the Venice Biennale felt more balanced with galleries exhibiting more of their female artists, and as last year, the fair felt very young, some artists merely a year out of art school.
For one particular booth, a trigger warning would have been helpful—those who visited will know what I’m talking about. Regarding which works were snapped up—I’m not sure what the sales report looked like this year, but there was no apparent sign of a global recession in the air, in fact with the weakened currency it could be a great time for those from overseas to buy. More shall be revealed via London auctions also taking place this week.
Acquiring aside, the fair can be enjoyed as an exhibition, coinciding with Frieze Sculpture, a free display of major outdoor works located in The Regent’s Park’s English Gardens at the south end of The Broadwalk (open until mid-November).
To summarise, the overly sweet fizzy art bubble within a bubble that we all love (and at times hate) still fizzes.
Frieze London & Frieze Masters: October 12 to 16.