Frieze New York 2015

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Now in its fourth year, Frieze New York has established itself as a main fixture in the city’s art scene. This year’s event was a large and lively affair, with over 190 galleries from 33 different countries.

While the fair could feel overwhelming at times due to its sheer size, there was a conscious effort put into the visitor experience. Ferries and shuttles allowed visitors to easily access the fair’s rather remote location at Randall’s Island, the city’s hippest eateries provided satisfying refreshments, and the spacious tent was airy and well lit by ample daylight—unlike the unforgiving fluorescent lighting often found at other art fairs.

There was a particularly strong local presence this year, with a third of the galleries from New York. In general, galleries presented more streamlined, focused exhibitions showcasing one or two artists, or a particular theme. Richard Prince’s screenshots of other people’s Instagram photos at Gagosian Gallery have famously sold for $90,000 each. Through Italian artist Giuseppe Penone’s tree bark inspired sculptures and paintings, Marian Goodman’s booth was transformed into a North American glade.

While there was a much higher concentration of Euro-American galleries, standout galleries from Asia included Tomio Koyama Gallery from Tokyo, which showcased works by Takuro Kuwata and Satoshi Onhno. Kuwata’s gnarled, deformed yet decorative ceramics combine the Japanese tradition of ceramics with a quirky pop aesthetic, while Ohno’s psychedelic and abstract compositions recall Neo-Expressionism in a digital age.

At Leo Xu Projects, a Shanghai-based gallery, Aaajiao presents works that reflect his training in computer science and classic Chinese philosophy and medicine. In one work, he used advanced algorithms to track and map acupuncture pressure points, creating a visual map of networks and energy flows.

Notable additions to this year’s fair include Spotlight, an acclaimed feature at Frieze Masters in London dedicated to showcasing overlooked artists from the 20th century or exploring the work of established artists from a fresh, unexpected perspective. This year, Ibrahim El-Salahi and Carolee Schneemann were part of the artists highlighted in this category.

Viewer participation was a strong theme at Frieze this year. A site specific project by Korakrit Arunanindchai featured paint spattered massage chairs located around the tent, to relax weary visitors after an afternoon of walking. Artist Jonathan Horowitz at Gavin Brown Gallery gave visitors a twelve-inch square of canvas to paint a freehand circle in black paint, who received a $20 dollar cheque for their efforts. Their piece was then added to a collective grid of 700 circles, and sold in batches of 100.

This participatory flair was also found at Galeria Jaqueline Martins, a young gallery awarded the best booth prize for Frieze New York 2015. Featuring a piece by Martha Araújo titled “Para un corpo nas suas impossibilidates” (For a body in its impossibilities), viewers were invited to put on a Velcro bodysuit and tackle a steep Velcro-wrapped ramp. Much laughter, entertainment, and questions ensued, encapsulating the mood of the fair’s pleasant yet serious showcase of art this year.

by Louise Lui

All images by Louise Lui