Review: The Verdict On This Year’s Frieze Art Fair

People can queue up and get a portrait of their genitalia drawn by artist Ken Kagami in 15-20 seconds; all without taking their clothes off. Photo Tabish Khan

In our guide to Frieze week we mentioned that the centrepiece is the Frieze art fair itself — but what is it actually like? Let’s face it, it’s never going to be worth the £50 ticket price. So whether you plan to go or not, here are some pictures of the artworks that caught our eye and our thoughts on the fair itself.

Frieze has critically been overshadowed by Frieze Masters the last few years, but this was the best edition of the original fair yet. It’s got a lot of fresh new art from artists we’d not come across, this was definitely not the case last year. One memorable booth is Gagosian’s, dedicated solely to Glenn Brown — a classy affair that pays homage to 19th century drawings and sculpture, a world away from last year when they had Carsten Holler’s playground

The best parts were the interactive works scattered throughout the fair. Visitors can climb inside a mini version of the fair marquis and relax listening to cheesy music, climb down on to the grass of the park and experience a strange wind tunnel effect and have an artist draw a picture of genitalia just by looking at you (fully clothed, we should add).

The one disappointment was the Focus section, which is for the young and emerging galleries. Last year there were daring installations like a nail bar and an underground bunker, while this year it was much more conservative with most preferring a traditional booth layout.

Frieze Masters has the advantage over its sister fair of having thousands of years of artworks to choose from, so it usually gets better reviews. Last year Helly Nahmad gallery was the talk of the fair with ‘the collector’, a recreation of a 1968 Paris apartment complete with artworks casually placed throughout. This year they have done it again with an asylum, complete with scrawls on the walls, as the inspiration for the artist Jean Dubuffet.

Aside from this stand we were a little disappointed with the rest as there were no standout booths dedicated to a single artist — usually the formula for producing something special. Marlborough Fine Art did it last year with a host of Francis Bacon’s, they have tried to recreate this with a selection of Auerbachs, but it’s not as compelling.

For the first time since the inception of Frieze Masters, we think it’s been outdone by it’s sibling at the other end of the park.

This is usually our favourite part of Frieze because it’s not pretentious and access is completely democratic, i.e. it’s free. However this year is disappointing as there are very few works that really grabbed us — the one exception was the deflated world which inflates during the day before being let down again.

The other works felt too formulaic with uninspired works by Conrad Shawcross and Tony Cragg, which look like the same works they churn out regularly.  A one nice touch is that some of the sculpture park will remain in situ until January.

All of Frieze is set within Regent’s Park, Frieze London runs until 17 October, Frieze Masters until 18 October and the sculpture park until 18 October with six works remaining until 17 January 2016. Tickets are £34 for one fair, £50 for both; the sculpture park is free to visit.

Also check out our top openings for autumn and October, plus our most talked-about exhibitions for September 

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17 October 2015 | 11:30 am – Source: londonist.com

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