Frieze London 2017: galleries take a calmer and more considered stand

Frieze London 2017: galleries take a calmer and more considered stand

With so much uncertainty in the world, are collectors turning to safe bets? It was the question in the air at Frieze where quirky conceptual works were notable for their absence. Instead, galleries rolled out painting and sculpture with comprehensible narratives, and the shouty, supermarket-aisle atmosphere of previous editions gave way to something calmer and more considered.

Standout solo shows include sculpture by African American artist Melvin Edwards at Stephen Friedman and 24 ‘negatives’ based around dance by German artist Thomas Ruff at Rüdiger Schöttle, while Timothy Taylor gallery gave 81-year-old Mexican artist Eduardo Terrazas free reign to curate its booth (below). The result is a striking grid system among which 23 new works are placed.

Eduardo Terrazas presented new works and a unique booth design at Timothy Taylor. © The artist. Courtesy of Timothy Taylor, London/New York. Photography: Sebastiano Pellion di Persano

Hauser & Wirth looked to the provinces for inspiration. Its recreation of a dusty regional museum, complete with wooden swing doors, yellowing walls and a desk selling cheap souvenirs is a trip down memory lane to anyone raised in the UK. In the faux fusty space, 2,000-year-old bronze daggers and eBay finds sit alongside contemporary works from the likes of David Smith, Martin Creed and Phyllida Barlow, who cast her paint sticks in bronze especially for the show. Its curator, Cambridge classicist Mary Beard says: ‘It’s a slightly satirical take on an institution we know and love, but putting a 2,000-year-old untitled bronze next to modern work changes the way you think. You concentrate on the single medium and start to look at the material rather than thinking ‘oh this a great work by so and so.’

At Frieze Masters, where gallerists have access to rich back catalogues, there’s no shortage of imaginative booths. Luxembourg & Dayan who work with estate of the late Italian artist Enrique Baj, borrowed furniture and cushions from his eclectic home near Milan to recreate his ‘living room’. Waddington Custot called on designer Robin Brown and producer Anna Pank to recreate the London studio of British pop artist Peter Blake. Among the piles of postcards, toy, models and wooden galleons are 41 seminal works, while the intermittent sounds of a record player and a toy train humming around a track capture not just Blake’s workspace, but also his soul.
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