Frieze 2016


The 15th edition of Frieze and the 5th of Frieze Masters (6-9 October 2016), opened in a very different atmosphere than in the past few years. Brexit or not, in the opening days the art fair was able to bring us news, make us dream, relive the spirit and for the luckiest even relive their wallets (also thanks to Locanda Locatelli's refreshment spot of culinary delights).

The beautiful location inside Regent's Park transformed the distance in between the two pavilions in an art continuum decorated by large sculptures disposed along the path laid out for the Frieze Sculpture Park exhibition. This year debuted a new gallery section: “The Ninties”, recreating seminal exhibition from that decade, alongside the return of the section “Focus and Live”, the definitive platform for emerging galleries and performance art respectively.

The 90's nowadays are considered very important for the breakthrough achieved by the visual arts, especially in the last decade of the last century. That has seen as protagonists artists such as Maurizio Cattelan (De Carlo Gallery, Milan) or Richard Billingham with the photographic series Ray's a Laugh (Anthony Reynolds Gallery, London). This is the first photographic work by Billingham exposed to the public, it represents his parents in their family environment and show us the poor and dramatic ambient in which he grew up. I wonder if the desire to look back in time is really helping the public in this occasion. Does this research in the last decade of the last century mean that we have to follow that path to understand what is around us today or the meaning is that we have to follow that path to progress?

There was a huge amount of paintings at Frieze this year. Is this also a desire to remember the Masters of the last century? Like for example in the works of the German artist Marcus Lupertz (Michael Werner Gallery, London- New York) where Mario Sironi (Sassari 1885-Milan 1961), even more than Picasso, seem the reference model (Vision des Puvis, 2012 and Arkadian Poussin. Vision 2 , 2013).

I've always been attracted to the sculptures by Tomas Schutte: “Reborn as a Stone”, 2013 (Firth Gallery, London, sold on the first day) and "United Enemies", 1997 (Peter Freeman Inc., New York, Frieze Masters), the artist is here collocated around works from the past like “Ecce Puer” by Medardo Rosso. 

We are constantly moving around the exhibition space looking for Masters, ancient ones (at Sam Fogg Gallery, London) or from the last century: Magritte, Picabia, Frida Kahlo (Plaster Corset with Hammer and Sickle, c.1950) and the Surrealist Revolution (this is the title of the exhibition in the stand of Dickinson Gallery, London), astonishing is the corner of Salvador Dali with “Mae West Lips Sofa”, 1936-37 and just on top of the sofa, the painting “L'Oeil Flurie” 1944.

While at Sophia Contemporary Gallery, a new gallery from London, were exhibited works from the Russian Suprematism, like the very rare porcelain plate by Malevich (only three copies in the world left).

But the large number of monographic stands: Edmun de Waal (Gagosian Gallery, New York, London, Rome etc), Daniel Buren (Galleria Continua, San Gimignano, Les Moulins, Beijin, Habana) or Picasso (Helly Nahmad Gallery, London) and the extraordinary works of American Indian Art before 1850 (Donald Ellis Gallery, New York), makes you feel like the general interest is more around the monographic stands or the "classic" works than for the upcoming new artists, perhaps to reassure collectors and a stable market? What is certain is that now the passion for art has joined the investment and we must, nowadays, to be informed to the fullest. The proliferation of fairs around the world, is the most tangible proof of this and conversely the galleries are opening branches in all continents (except for Poles).

1 Dickinson Gallery, Frieze Masters 2016
Photograph by Mark Blower. Courtesy of Mark Blower/Frieze.
2 Photograph by Linda Nylind. Courtesy of Linda Nylind/Frieze
3 Richard Billingham, Anthony Reynolds, The Nineties, Frieze London 2016
Photograph by Linda Nylind. Courtesy of Linda Nylind/Frieze.
4 Sylvie Fleury, The Nineties, Frieze London 2016
Photograph by Linda Nylind. Courtesy of Linda Nylind/Frieze.
5 Frieze Masters 2016
Photograph by Mark Blower. Courtesy of Mark Blower/Frieze.