Thursday, 14 October 2010

Frieze forever after?

Whether Frieze has become less spectacular or I- the dedicated visitor- have become more ‘climatised’ is the question. Some five years ago experiencing Frieze was just that- an experience, a pure sensory overload with so many artists to be discovered you half wanted to run away; now the same Bridget Riley stripes are being flogged off at Timothy Taylor for far too much money (thirty thousand pounds for a very small canvas is not a bargin), and, there is a distinct lack of surprise in the air. Luxury, however, is still delivered and Hirst's spots make an appearance as expected. The big players Gagosian, White Cube, Hauser & Wirth and Lisson run the show and the red dots marking the wall indicate that already, by the 2pm Professional view, sales are high. Post-Lehman, a discretion has been introduced to the scene and champagne is not being sprayed. This year there were 3 VIP 'waves' of invitees-11am: artists and early big buyers 2pm: the auction house/art world important people-and Claudia Schiffer, and 6.30pm: the others and more sociable scene. In the latter viewing you see more people than art. 

Sadie Coles was awarded ‘Stand of the Year’ and the large space does not disappoint. Another remarkable corner is a solo show of David Shrigley’s new work. Viewed through a cage (which one can enter) is a large headless ostrich and an array of taxidermy also including a dog. This is not done a-la-PollyMorgan (deathly stuffed animals, often attatched to coffins) but the character of the cute little animal is retained as he stands upright on two feet holding a sign proclaiming ‘I'm Dead’. The humour immediately transpires and surpasses the more obvious connotations and normal artist intentions of raising awareness of cruelty to animals. Taxidermy has become a craze- check out both Polly and (not related) Claire Morgan. Taxi-dermy actually means walking/travelling skin or something similar (my Greek is pretty good). Back to the stand-on the walls, lined up in series, are some twenty of Shrigley's child-like drawings which the average person would dismiss as 'not-art'. However, contrary to popular argument art does not always need to be taken seriously and these works leviate the difficulty which is often attached to contemporary art and make people automatically dismiss it. Art should be enjoyed and encourage conversation. One can walk alongside these drawings and enjoy the self-mockery text 'I paint drawings' scribbled next to a stick giraffe. Also google Rob Pruitt, he is amazing and paints huge florescent canvases with smiley eyes (sounds bad looks good).

Other personal highlights included an experiential Ugo Rondinone (an Italian artist) tree piece, not as effective as last year's 800 year old olive tree cast in plaster, but more tranquil and possibly more reflective of the current market. In an enclosed white space sitting along the floor and in an L shape up the wall are two beautiful beams of wood accompanied by a small pile of lemons in the centre of the room. I love trees, for some unknown reason.

240 million pounds is the reported amount of value in the room. There were 10 things I liked, would certainly hang on my walls, and could not afford. Concludingly- it has become less spectacular, but I am forever dedicated.

David Shrigley

David Shrigley


                                                          Ugo Rondinone

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