A Guide to Frieze London 2016

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Frieze Art Fair 2016: A complete guide to London’s biggest art event
By Anna Souter

Originally published by The Upcoming

Frieze Art Fair is the biggest event of the art world calendar. It takes place over four days in an enormous marquee in Regent’s Park, where over 160 galleries compete for the attention of the press, private collectors and the acquisitions departments of major museums. The results are, for the most part, stunning.

Highlights include the Marianne Boesky Gallery stand, which has been entirely taken over by Belgian artist Hans Op de Beeck. The room features bookcases, a painting and several sculptures of standing or reclining figures. Uniquely, however, everything has been painted a soft, dusty white. The effect is disconcerting, making the space feel both known and unknown, as figures in your peripheral vision appear to melt into the white background.

Elsewhere, artworks by women make a big impact. At PPOW Gallery, Portia Munson presents her Pink Project: Table, which collates items associated with a girl’s childhood, such as hair combs and My Little Pony toys, and mixes them with symbols of adulthood, such as tampons, sex toys and cosmetics, all produced in the same shades of pink plastic. It’s a powerful statement about how identity for women is constructed by prescriptive consumerism.

One of the most exciting booths at Frieze 2016 is by Hauser and Wirth. They’ve taken the unique decision to present their artworks amongst a staged setting, replicating the studio of an imaginary artist. Tubes of paint, easels, snapshots and sketches sit among artworks by a roster of huge names, including Louise Bourgeois, Hans Arp, Ellen Gallagher and Allan Kaprow.

On the other side of the fair is a selection of younger galleries, many of whom are offering work by less well-known artists with a flair for new media. Most intriguingly, Seventeen Gallery is showing a new work by Jon Rafman, where viewers are asked to take a seat on a giant snake before donning a virtual reality headset for a thrilling journey through forests, oceans, back alleys and computer coding.

For the uninitiated, Frieze can seem like a daunting affair; the sheer scale is challenging enough. There’s no escape from art, even in the loos, where artist Julie Verhoeven can be found “performing” the role of a toilet attendant. However, it’s worth making the venture and paying the hefty entrance fee: you’re bound to find something exciting, new and thought provoking.

Anna Souter is an arts writer and editor based in London. See her website for more information.

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