Opening night at Frieze Art Fair 09

Yang Shaobin, X Blindspot no17

Yang Shaobin, X – Blind Spot No. 17,, 2008.  176 x 55 x 51 cm.

Celebs were in and out early for the champagne reception at Frieze this year, spotted were regulars Lily Allen and Gwyneth Paltrow. A Frieze worker said she got a radio call from one of her star-struck colleagues outside saying Kate Moss had turned up, and they didn’t know what to do with her! The likes of Grayson Perry and Tracey Emin were there too. Emin’s new work is an exercise especially for the more interactive art buyer. She is offering to make a commissioned work in which (quoting from the instructions) firstly you pay her “10,000 sterling”, before completing a simple questionnaire of 14 questions, then she will make a phrase in neon lights in response to the answers. She asks for a further “45,000 sterling” on completion. Contract signed and framed before of course. It might have been a mirage but was that art media magnate Louise MacBain I saw perusing the stand?

New to the show this year is a more edgy section called Frame displaying the work of younger galleries with more solo focused exhibitions, in part scooping up the littler Shoreditch ones, like Kate MacGarry gallery from a stone’s throw down on Vyner Street. This includes a few that used to reside at Zoo Art Fair. It will be interesting to see what impact this will have on the new look Zoo this year.

The Brazilian and Far Eastern galleries are rocking the international section. Galeria Fortes Vilaca, Sao Paulo stuck hundreds of chess pieces scattered like a misshapen map of the world across a wall and A Gentil Caricoca, Rio de Janeiro has artist Laura Lima performing a strange drawing technique with only one hand coming out from a hole in a white screen. Long March Space, Beijing, is showing among other brilliant works Yang Shaobin’s moving lifesize model of a freakishly flashing miner man and the Kukje Gallery, Korea is definitely worth a visit with Gimhongsok’s Canine Construction – a dog made from cast bin bags in spoof on Jeff Koon’s bunny and Haegue Yang’s mixed media sculptures consisting of blinds, lights, colanders, earth globes, shoes and more.

The big guns like White Cube Gallery have the old crooners out on display such as Gilbert and George and Hirst, but these types of artists seem to have less of a presence this year thankfully. Raqib Shaw a reasonably new artist on their books is a welcome change with his decadent ape-god scenes painted out in painstaking detail with diamantes and marble effects.

It’s hard to stop and look around in the hustle and bustle of the opening night, but Frieze seems to have a fairly decent standard of work this year, with a variety of artists and not an overkill of flash with no substance…. Perhaps best taken-in on a quiet day without the champers…..

Some of the galleries metioned:


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