Salon 94 at Frieze Art Fair 2011.
It shouldn’t really be possible to deduce trends in the art world, approved should it? Yet that is exactly what I was able to do at Frieze Art Fair. By housing a spectacular array of galleries all alongside each other in vast tents, dosage some with work by the same artist shown on different continents, medicine the sameness of much art is highlighted. And I say trends because none of these similarities can really be named a movement, not when the artists are flung so far and wide that they can have no possible involvement with each other than a fleeting knowledge gleaned from the media or touring art shows.
This year the biggest trends seemed to follow only a couple of themes.. deducible even as I zipped around the fair in a matter of hours. I must admit that I make judgements on what I like within milliseconds at such events, so by default most of the art that I picked up on were things that spoke to me (and not always for a good reason).
After by Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster.
From the River by Christina Mackie at Herald St.
Map of Truths and Beliefs by Grayson Perry.
Neon letter artwork and giant typography in general are popular (Tracey Emin, hello), as are craft inspired pieces that pile together assortments of materials to create something that often looks similar to a school art project. Add to this ceramics, tapestry (Grayson Perry, you have a lot to answer for, and I love you) and old toys, and the potential to create something exciting becomes seriously viable – though that line between primary school art project and stroke of genius is often hard to distinguish.
Ramiken Crucible by Andra Ursuta.
This trend sometimes crosses over with a very strong theme that says a lot about the spiritual deficit of our current lives: curious creations that bear significant reference to tribal deities and animist beliefs but also often with strong links to our present lives. Think crystallised heads on sticks, strange shaped skulls with flapping teeth, a flattened woman who looks like she’s just been removed from a peat bog: her body glistens with a jelly like substance, yet she wears trainers.
Joy by Tomoaki Suzuki.
In opposition to this present day esotericism I also found realistic figures in banal situations, often in miniature size. Or play dead, high heels and Blackberry at the feet or a morgue trolley. Ring a bell, Ron Mueck?
Doppelganger (Blue) by Peter Liversidge.
Gert and Uwe Tobias at Contemporary Fine Arts Berlin.
Odd arrangements of objet trouvé on shelves have never been more popular. As ever I was also attracted to all the colourful decorative paintings. Aesthetically pleasing, and close in many ways to illustration.
Pierre Huyghe: Recollection.
And then of course there was the hermit crab in Pierre Huyghe‘s Recollection. That funny creature in a darkened room, benignly going about his own business in a small tank with only smaller creatures for friends. He bears a sculpted head on his back ( a replica of Brancussi’s Sleeping Muse) as he is coo-ed over by the moneyed hordes, marvelling at out total dominion over nature. But maybe the last laugh is on us? For what cares the hermit crab where he makes his bed.
Colourful art world characters.
In the past I have been put off attending Frieze Art Fair by what I have heard about the experience. And it was, indeed, a bizarre one. Whilst the plethora of artwork on display undoubtedly provides loads of inspiration, I think a whistle stop tour is necessary to weed out all the dross (of which there is much) and retain a modicum of sanity. But the event undeniably left a curiously icky feeling inside: I’ve never seen so many rich people in one place, and Frieze stank of serious wealth. Ridiculous, unnecessary wealth, of the kind that sucks the lifeblood out of whole nations and forces us to reevaluate our connection the universe. Do you sense the irony? We all know that art is a huge commodity in our money obsessed times, but here it is laid bare for all to see… and it’s disheartening to realise just how much the art world relies on the buying and selling powers of the mega rich to survive. Surely art is about more than this?
Frieze Art Fair continues until Sunday 16th October – you can visit the Sculpture Park for free, more details here.
- Frieze Art Fair 2011 Trends: Spiritual, Tribal and Animist Art
- Frieze Art Fair 2011 Trends: Neon Signs and Typography
- Frieze Art Fair
- Arts listings October 5-11
- Frieze Art Fair 2010: Exhibition Review