Last week was that time of the year during which the squirrels in Regent's Park can hang out around Ed Harris' Zinc-plated Wood rather than their usual oak. That time of the year in which Londoners will Instagram to their artistic taste rather than their avocado on toast. Frieze week.
This annual ritual brings together Londoners with those members of the art world (collectors, gallerists, celebrities, artists and bloggers/socialites) who routinely meet up in Basel, New York, Paris, Miami etc. In my case, it brought me together with my Italian mother who flew here to visit "me". She landed straight at the preview on Wednesday but, unlike her, I was not free until Saturday. So my Frieze week was more of a weekend, as it was for most Londoners who love art but work in less-enlightened fields.
It was supposed to start promptly on Saturday morning. Friday night, however, finished on Saturday morning instead so I met my mother at Somerset House at 4pm sharp. We decided to begin at 1:54 Contemporary Art Fair, which in its 4th edition was as impressive as ever. The fair has quickly spread and now surrounds the entire inner courtyard. There an army of stern, black statues by Zak Ove welcomed us. Between beautiful, bright, plastic tapestries by Serge Attukwei Clottey and swag photographs by Maurice Mbikayi only a fluttering of French and Italian by the smartly-dressed visitors could be heard. Touching but ironic, the pieces made for a beautiful afternoon in the former Tudor palace.
The evening was as Frieze-y as ever at some friends’ dinner party which I attended, with my mother… Her only comment the following day was that she had never seen as many attractive gay men in one place before.
After a quick brunch to recover from the previous night’s one too many flutes, we marched convinced into Frieze on Sunday morning. Crowded and blindingly white, the huge marquee was quite a spectacle. Focusing between the numerous pieces and the loud art lovers was hard, as was slaloming between posing Instagrammers. Within this art jungle a few pieces really stood out. My personal favorites being Atmosphere with orbiting light by the ever-visionary Olafur Eliasson and a series of dark, neon, psychedelic, inkjet prints stealing moments from a futuristic-looking Shanghai by Chen Wei.
The walk to Frieze Masters was marred by rain. Fortunately, my vintage suede bomber jacket is pretty sturdy. Thanks to a friend met the night before we were able to skip the queue and avoid getting more drenched. The grey walls immediately creating a more collected atmosphere, Frieze’s older and more sophisticated cousin won us over. The gallerinas were not en pointe anymore due to the late hour. Fewer, important pieces were serenely on display. Particularly idyllic was the Mayor Gallery’s curation of a number of concrete/abstract works by Ad Dekkers, carefully sought out over a number of years. As I stood in front of a stunning Burri, the loudspeakers gently informed me I had 15 minutes to leave. With the rain gone and the last sunlight caressing the park, mother and I hailed an Uber and, finally sitting down, bid farewell to Frieze this year too.
Written by Teo Akasaka for The Public House of Art