London Frieze Week, October 2016

We had four splendid art filled days and nights in London during the Frieze week!

Donna Huanca’s first UK solo exhibition “Scar Cymbals” at the Zabludowicz Collection is the first performance-led commission in the space curated by Maitreyi Maheshwari. Her work draws attention to the body and in particular the skin by examining types of behavior exposed by the naked performers, concealed under layers of paint, cosmetics, latex and the surrounding structured architectural creations. Huanca’s models and their slow deliberate movements to meditative music highly contrast to Eddie Peake’s sexually charged recent performance “Head”  at Jeffrey Deitch in New York last month.


Antony Gormley, Sleeping Field, 2016, White Cube Bermondsey, photo courtesy of the author

White Cube’s new major presentation of Antony Gormley’s  “Fit” at Bermondsey boasts 15 spaces creating a series of individual projects in the form of a labyrinth. At the first glimpse of “Sleeping Field”, which is composed of over 500 small iron sculptures on the floor, my impression was of a massive graveyard. Upon closer examination, one could see small figures in various configurations amongst many crowded buildings. It was an eerie sight. The artist addresses displaced bodies or migrants in despair seeking refuge in the cities.

“Abstract Expressionism” at the Royal Academy is the first major survey of this extraordinary time in 20th century art since 1959. The exhibition featuring monumental works by Pollock, Rothko, de Kooning, Newman, Kline, Smith, Still, Guston and Gorky is curated by art historian Dr. David Anfam with Edith Devaney, the Contemporary Curator at the Royal Academy. To walk from gallery to gallery and view these phenomenal works of art is a rare treat and an exceptional feast for the eyes. It’s overwhelming!

“Picasso Portraits” at The National Portrait Gallery features seven decades of the rise and fall of Picasso’s wives, mistresses including Olga, Marie-Therese Walter, Dora Maar and Jacqueline. The one prominent lover Francoise Gilot seemed to be absent.

Per Skarstedt’s recently opened gallery on Bennett Street presented a beautifully installed exhibition of Cindy Sherman and David Salle, two of the key figures in the Pictures Generation art movement. Almine Rech’s newly opened gallery on Grosvenor Hill next to the Gagosian gallery had Jeff Koons “Gazing Balls”, inspired by old master paintings.

The VIP opening of the Frieze and  Frieze Masters Fairs was challenging to navigate all in one day. The “Nineties” a curated section was an inspiration for many of the galleries’  choices.

Edmund de Waal’s vitrines of black and white vessels at Gagosian was breathtaking in its minimalism and reductiveness. Hauser & Wirth’s “L’Atelier d’artistes” was a fascinating mock-studio, filled with clutter, paint splatter, and a jumble of sculptures and drawings hung salon style representing many of the gallery artists.


Jon Rafman, Transdimensional Serpent, 2016, Seventeen at Frieze Focus, Photo courtesy of the author

Returning to the 21st century,  London’s Gallery Seventeen showed Jon Rafman’s “Transdimensional Serpent” where the visitors sit on a interactive serpent shaped work of art. They put put on VR headsets and the journey begins.


Adrian Ghenie, Nickelodeon, 2008, Christies, Photo courtesy of the author

The contemporary auctions did extremely well and the highlights in the evening sales were Adrian Ghenie’s “Nickelodeon” which sold for $9 million against an estimate of $1.4 – $2 million at Christie’s and Basquiat’s “Hannibal” which sold for $13.2 million against an estimate of $4.6 – $5.9 million.

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