Proyesctos Ultravioleta, Frieze London 2021

Review: Frieze London & Frieze Masters 2021

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Highlights from this year's fair

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After a tumultuous year of cancelled and postponed shows, Frieze London and Frieze Master 2021 was a breath of fresh air for fine art fanatics. Charlie Colville looks back on some of the highlights, from interactive installations and conceptual boybands to examinations of climate change through art and literature.

The Best Art Exhibitions in London

Review: Frieze London & Frieze Masters 2021

This year’s instalment of Frieze London and Frieze Masters was a spectacular revival of the UK capital’s cultural hub. Nearly 300 galleries from all over the world came together for the five-day event, showcasing hundreds of talented artists from a variety of practices. These are some of the standouts…

 

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Sadie Coles HQ, Frieze London 2021

Sadie Coles HQ

Frieze London

One of the first galleries that greeted you on your way in to Frieze London was Sadie Coles HQ – and boy, did they put on a welcoming show. The wall were lined with erratic bursts of colour on canvas, from abstract shape to figural drawings and portraits. But the star of the micro-exhibition was arguable the three stocking-clad sculptures in the centre of the space: Sarah Lucas’s ‘Bunnies’ (2021). A series first conceived in 1997, Lucas’s ‘Bunny’ sculptures soft sculptures use everyday materials depict the nude female form reclined in a vulnerable state (a motif that becomes all the more striking in light of the violence we’ve witnessed towards women in the UK capital in the last year). The energy in this stall alone was enough to get visitors buzzing with excitement as soon as they entered the fair.

Image: Frieze Art Fair in Regents Park, London. Photo by Linda Nylind for Frieze.

Blindspot Gallery, Frieze London 2021

Blindspot Gallery

Frieze London (Focus)

The fair’s Focus section allows visitors to discover up-and-coming galleries who are aged 12 years or younger, providing a platform for emerging artists to be seen by a global audience. Hong Kong-based gallery Blindspot made sure they were seen, heard and talked about by everyone who walked past their stall. Presenting a solo show of ‘It’s Always You’ (2021) by Sin Wai Kin, an exploration of boyband culture and production. The artist, who manufactured their very own boyband for the show, created posters, cardboard cutouts and even a music video in what they described as a celebration of queer joy. This was an exciting installation for anyone who was a fan of pop culture (and its satire).

Image: Frieze Art Fair in Regents Park, London. Photo by Linda Nylind for Frieze.

Alison Jacques

Frieze Masters (Spotlight)

This year’s Spotlight, curated by Laura Hoptman, featured solo presentations by overlooked figures and rarely seen practices by modern masters. Diversity was at the forefront of the segment, and one of the most eye-catching installations came from Nicola L., whose work ‘We Want to Breathe’ (c.1976) seemed to jump across the space of time to present moment. The cotton banner, displaying masked faces with limited breathing holes, was a prime example of how the work of modern masters continue to translate into contemporary society. The silencing of voices – through violent, racial or patriarchal means – continues to be a widely recognised issue in the world we live in today. The artist has described her anthropomorphic works as ‘an ephemeral monument to freedom’ – and with her often jarring and witty take on the world, you can see why.

Image: Frieze Masters 2021, courtesy of Frieze.

Lehmann Maupin

Frieze London

We love a good interactive installation – especially when it’s bright pink and comes with its own entrance. Global gallery Lehmann Maupin allowed visitors to explore the world of its artist Do Ho Suh through his installation piece ‘Hub-2, Breakfast Corner, 260-7, Sungbook-Dong, Sungboo-Ku, Seoul, Korea’ (2018), an architectural structure made from sheer polyester fabrics and steel rods – and based on a real-life space in the artist’s home country of Korea. Alongside the giant pink artwork, the gallery also had a selection of artworks by other artists that similarly played with materials, space and identity.

Image: Frieze Art Fair in Regents Park, London. Photo by Linda Nylind for Frieze.

PH - One Hundred Seconds to Midnight at Frieze Masters 2021

Peter Harrington

Frieze Masters

Frieze Masters was full of fine paintings, sculptures and collectibles, but the collection at Peter Harrington was another level this year. Europe’s leading dealer in rare books put on a quietly impressive show that charted the history of climate change through the eyes of scientists, writers and activists. Titled ‘One Hundred Seconds to Midnight‘, the collection showed brought together the likes of Aristotle, John Ruskin and David Attenborough to document the many who have stood up in the name of climate action. While Peter Harrington’s Frieze booth could only hold so many pieces of literature, the collection itself has well over 800 original works from the fifteenth century to the present day. For the collection, Peter Harrington also partnered with the World Land Trust, and will donate a portion of the sale proceeds to fund the charity’s efforts to protect the world’s most biologically significant and threatened habitats and wildlife.

Image: Courtesy of Peter Harrington

The Final Word

The art world is buzzing with life and more determined than ever to engage with the world. It’s evident that year’s absence has done little to deter the popularity of Frieze, as it was shown that both artists and art-lovers alike were keen to meet again in the UK capital. With world-renowned artists on top of their game and many new names stealing the show, it’s safe to say that the future London’s art scene (and beyond) appears brighter than ever.

Featured image: Proyesctos Ultravioleta, Frieze London 2021. Frieze Art Fair in Regents Park, London. Photo by Linda Nylind for Frieze.

Frieze London 2021: Artists to Watch