FRIEZE 2008: Review of Frieze

written by Ashley Eldridge-ford in London

I had fully intended to spend a few hours at Frieze and then move on to The Future Can Wait art fair at Truman Brewery but I found myself at Frieze for seven and a half hours instead. The Frieze Art Fair is extremely enjoyable this year. There is less of a claustrophobic, panicked feeling to it. This is partly due to the design and layout by Caruso St John Architects who have lifted the height of the ceiling of the fair, amongst other things, to give the marquee an openness that has been lacking before, even if it makes the lighting a little starker than usual. The less panicked feeling might also be due to a downturn in sales. Dealers who normally have no time to talk and exude an air of extreme stress that is infectious during the VIP preview were relaxed and willing to have a chat with anyone who approached them on their stand. One interesting thing to note is the lack of little florescent orange stickers that usually tell if a work has been sold, which this year seem to have been banned so that the visiting public cannot tell how few pieces have sold.

The entire atmosphere was different to all of the previous Frieze Art Fairs. I thought that the quality of art has developed and there are certain ideas or motifs that are repeated by a few artists that crop up throughout the fair – like multiple sized framed images distributed across a wall; signed and autographed celebrity photographs; a reinterpretation or a harking back to the subject matter and stylistic techniques of some of the 'old masters' in the history of art: Pointilism; classical 18th century American landscape; miniature Persian painting; formal 17th century Dutch portraiture; Ruben-esque classical scene; Post-World War II thick-painted figurative works. It is a pleasure to take one's time and look closely at each stand, there is certainly a more conducive atmosphere to do so this year. The artists whose work stood out for me are not all contemporary hot shots but their work caught my attention and with so much to look at and choose from, they are worth noting for that alone: they are worth stopping to consider.

Lorna Simpson, Photo Book, 2008, Salon 94, New York [B13]. One hundred and fifty found black and white portrait photographs from the 1940s bought on eBay.

Lorna Simpson, Photo Book

Henrik Olesen's work on Kinship, Cross-Dressing, Pedestry, Lesbianity, Homosexuality, looking at, and highlighting, works of art and texts from the past from those involved in the Arts. At the Galerie Daniel Buchholz, Cologne [C4].

Henrik Olesen

Thomas Hirschhorn's Vitrine murale (Goya), 2007, the piece entitled with 'Portraits of Despair 'above famous works by the artist Goya and an assemblage of heads and other such paraphernalia that could come as much for Goya's work as from the Chapman Brothers'. Galerie Chantal Crousel [D3].

Thomas Hirschhorn's Vitrine murale (Goya)

Richard Prince's All The Best, 2000, 12 C-Print headshots signed by various stars from Cameron Diaz to Katie Holmes. Also, David LaChapelle's Children's Bacchanal, 2008. Both at the Jablonka Galerie, Cologne [D2].
Very similarly and hence worth noting at Casey Kaplan opposite is Jonathan Monk's Anyone, whose anyone? 1998, 21 found signed celebrity headshots [C2].
Washington Sex (Stuart/Brown), 2008, by Glenn Brown at Patrick Painter Inc., Los Angeles [D1].
Ruby Neri's work is worth mentioning at David Kordansky Gallery, Los Angeles [E6].

Stelios Faitakis' two large-scale contemporary Persian miniature-esque paintings of contemporary culture: an entwined couple sit facing away from each other on their mobile phones, gun wars take place around them. The Breeder, Athens [E17].

Frieze Projects commission by Norma Jeane for The Straight Story, a performance based installation, inviting the public to sit within the transparent cubicles and smoke a cigarette or take a cup of water whilst watching with muted sound the crowds walking past. Strangely, those inside were less inclined to look out than to focus their attention on one fixed point and smoke as though oblivious to their surroundings [P13 square between F23 and F24, F25 and F26].

Norma Jeane for The Straight Story

The exquisitely made cream figurative sculptures in silk by Lin Tianmiao, Mothers! series, 2008 at Long March Space, Beijing [E23].

Magical Artroom, Tokyo, was the second only gallery in which I overhead a couple wanting to buy one of the pieces, that of Daisuke Ohba called Uroboros (woods), 2008. An Impressionist or Pointillist-esque piece that looks quite monochrome from afar but is colourful in metallic hues when one steps up close. Also of note here are the photographs of blown fuses that are colourful explosions by Hitoshi Kuriyama called :. 0=1 – traces of light, 2008 [F34].

Christ as the Light of the World I and II, 2008 by William Daniels at the Vilma Gold Gallery, London, was the second piece I overhead being discussed for purchase [G22].

Casa Triângulo, San Paolo, showing the polka dot hole Old Master reminiscent work of Albano Afonso [F25].

Always a delight to see the work of Richard Wathen at Max Wigram, London [G18].

A playful fascinating table at Lehmann Maupin, New York, by Do Ho Suh, in which thousands of little colourful figures sandwiched between two sheets of glass push and hold up the top sheet. It was receiving considerable attention [F17].

I had been talking about Grayson Perry's maps to a friend earlier this week and I was therefore very pleased to see a version of it, Map of Nowhere, 2008, at Victoria Miro Gallery, London [G5]. Always interesting to look closely and see the humour in these maps.

The captivating work of Israeli artist Yehudit Sasportas at Eigen+Art [F5]. They like only a handful of other galleries have dedicated their main showing space to a single artist (another was Jacob Holding at Team Gallery, New York [G21]).

Two stormy works by Carla Klein Untitled, 2008, at Annet Gelink Gallery, Austria [G3].