On the London art agenda, 14-20 October was undoubtedly the busiest and the most exciting time of the year. Frieze Art Fair is such a powerful catalyst that, every year, gathers round many other events. Galleries and museums open new exhibitions, auction houses have brought forward in the calendar their post-war and contemporary art sales and other fairs, like PAD, also take place in the same period of time. Unfortunately, I was very busy that week and I only managed to spend four hours at Frieze. It was enough to feel the hustle and bustle of the fair, though.
Despite the fact that I really tried to focus only on what I liked and found interesting, many works, possible good ones, went unnoticed. In the middle of the throng and the frenetic atmosphere of the fair, it is mainly the most striking and shocking artworks that attract all the attention. In this regard, some galleries, like Lisson Gallery and Stephen Friedman Gallery, have carried out a clever strategy given all their available space to only one work of great dimensions that demands the participation of the public.
Among all the works I photographed I have made a selection of some of the most captivating and compelling examples, those I think that are capable of engaging the viewer intensely.
1 / Uma prancha encostada na parede, 1973 / Genilson Soares / Galeria Jaqueline Martins / Sao Paulo
This installation caught my eye because it produces a powerful visual impact on the spectator with very few simple and basics elements: a wood plank leaning against a wall and its painted shadows. All together create not only a trompe-l`oeil that tricks your understanding of the perspective and space but also a beautiful 3D geometric composition.
2 / TEORIA, 2013 / Eduardo T. Basualdo / PSM / Berlin
A giant rock, that pretends to be very heavy but that is actually very light (a hollow structure made of aluminum foil), is suspended from the ceiling with a rope, while a small picture in the wall shows the very moment when the rope breaks and lets the rock fall over our heads… This striking mute installation has an immense dramatic effect. This Argentinian artist works with limits: the limit of the bearable, the limit of an incident that happens in an instant and it`s therefore difficult to grasp. He freezes that millisecond and works in the territory of the instant.
3 / Grovvy Spiral, 2013 / Dan Graham / Lisson Gallery / London, Milan, New York
This work, the only one in Lisson Gallery`s booth, something between a big sculpture and a small piece of architecture, consists of a spiral of glass and steel that wraps the visitor in layers of transparency and reflection as he or she strolls around it. It´s heavy and light at the same time but I doubt if that is the outcome the artist wanted to achieve. The oversized frame strongly accentuates the edges and the work loses part of the lightness and delicacy that glass, translucency and reflexion usually suggest.
4 / Silver Gelatine Print, 1981 / Robert Mapplethorpe / Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac / Paris, Salzburg
The gallery’s explanation about the late american photographer’s pictures couldn`t be more accurate: ‘some of these photographs are shocking for their content but exquisite in their technical mastery’. In fact, every aspect of this photography, the strikingly beautiful composition, the balance between void and matter, the perfect asymmetry, all make you feel you are before a sublime work of art.
5 / Puddles, 2012 / Marlie Mul / Fluxia / Milan
This installation, consisted of a series of sculpture-like puddles laid down on the gallery floor, is an attempt to isolate an element of the dirty streets (London`s?) bringing it to the pristine inside of the gallery. It`s like if she had cut out the road`s puddles, with all their dirtiness, plastic bags, cigarettes butts, etc… to create a bit of a street in which, as in the real one, you have to avoid getting your feet into the filthy water while you stroll around the exhibition space.
6 / Thinking Glass Figure, 2012 / Daniel Arsham / Galerie Perrotin / Paris, New York, Hong Kong
This human figure, made of small pieces of broken glass, seems to have been deep in thought for so long that he has eventually been crystallized just to keep thinking for all the eternity.
7 / Nude (xxxxxxxxxxx), 2011 / Ugo Rondinone / Esther Schipper / Berlin
Like mannequins, this figure has seams marking its different parts, cast from the human body in wax. Unlike the figure above which has violent thoughts going on in its mind, this Nude is peacefully melancholic, as if it was also naked inside. The artist names each of his naked figures by Nude (x), (xx), … to accentuate its anonymity which, in my opinion, is also emphasized by the earth pigments that colour the figures.
8 / Weide, 2013 / Uwe Kowski / Galerie Eigen + Art / Berlin
When I came across Uwe Kowski canvases I thought painting is still a medium with lots of possibilities. In spite of the fact that oil on canvas is hundreds of years old, the approach and the outcome can still look fresh and contemporary.
9 / Pennello Piatto, 1972 / Giorgio Griffa / Casey Kaplan / New York
Griffa explores the possibilities of the canvas not only as a surface for painting, but as a flexible material. He uses the canvas unstretched and without any support, just the raw fabric, and folds it to create creases that become part of the composition, together with the few other painted elements. These works are something between a textile and a traditional canvas painting.
10 / Lujo Ibérico II, 2001 / Pilar Albarracín / Galería Juana de Aizpuru / Madrid
To finish this brief selection, this work made me smile as I couldn`t help thinking of my granny`s pantry. Anyone who has been long enough in any of the deepest Spanish villages knows exactly what this means. It`s funny to find such a vernacular and rural element in a super-contemporary art fair in the heart of London.