Fair’s fare

Frieze London is now an unmissable event in the calendars of art professionals, collectors and enthusiasts the world over

Art and Design 11 Sep 2023

Ceremony II – Yam Series (1995) by Emily Kame Kngwarreye, on show at Frieze Masters

Ceremony II – Yam Series (1995) by Emily Kame Kngwarreye, on show at Frieze Masters

In mid-October artists, gallerists and art enthusiasts will gather from round the world in Regent’s Park for Frieze London. This year marks the fair’s 20th edition – its most international to date, with over 160 galleries spanning 40 countries participating, and the 11th edition of Frieze Masters, which takes place concurrently.

To celebrate two decades of supporting the fair, Deutsche Bank is presenting a collaboration with British-Nigerian artist Yinka Shonibare, whose work examines race and the construction of cultural identity. It’s a fitting choice given the aim of this year’s Frieze London is to celebrate London’s diverse and thriving art scene.

Another 20th-anniversary initiative is Artist-to-Artist: eight world-renowned artists proposing a counterpart for a solo exhibition at the fair. So, Olafur Eliasson nominated Fabian Knecht, while Tracey Emin named Vanessa Raw.

The London-based Egyptian artist Adham Faramawy is the recipient of the 2023 Frieze London Artist Award. The prize was initiated over 15 years ago and provides an artist with the opportunity to debut a new commission at Frieze. This year’s winning commission was selected by a jury of leading industry figures including Eva Langret, the Fair’s artistic director, and last year’s winner, Abbas Zahedi. Faramawy’s work has been screened at the Guggenheim in New York and at Tate Modern, the Serpentine and Somerset House in London, among numerous other galleries worldwide. The new video and sculptural project, entitled And these deceitful waters, will sit at the entrance to Frieze, and examines the Thames’s history, along themes of colonisation, nation building, ecological collapse, toxicity and migration. ‘The award reflects Frieze London’s ongoing commitment to championing new voices, a tenet that is woven into the fair’s programming,’ says Langret. ‘The jury endorsed Faramawy’s compelling and prescient installations, sitting at the intersection of migration and ecology.’

The Unfinished Story, (2022) by Grit Richter
The Unfinished Story, (2022) by Grit Richter

Meanwhile Frieze Masters, with over 130 participating galleries, brings together six millennia of art, ranging from antiquities and Old Masters to 20th-century masterpieces. Major international galleries taking part include Colnaghi, Gagosian, Richard Green, Hauser & Wirth and Pace Gallery.

The celebrated section Spotlight returns, focussing on under-appreciated artists working between the 1950s and 1970s, while Stand Out returns for its third year, re-examining artworks previously dismissed as “decorative”. There are also two new sections at Frieze Masters. Sheena Wagstaff, previously the Leonard A. Lauder chair of modern and contemporary art at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art and now chief curator at Tate Modern, has initiated Studio, looking at the workspace’s role in the creative practices and careers of five internationally renowned artists: Maggi Hambling, Mona Hatoum, Lucia Laguna, Arlene Shechet and Hyun-Sook Song. Additionally, curator Camille Morineau, who founded AWARE (Archives of Women Artists, Research and Exhibitions), is steering Modern Women, focussing on works made between 1880 and 1980, a pivotal period for women’s rights and feminism.

Established London galleries regard Frieze as an essential date in their calendars. Osborne Samuel, which represents many distinguished 20th-century artists including Lynn Chadwick, Henry Moore and Ben Nicholson, has had a presence at Frieze Masters for six years. ‘The fair’s quality is undeniably high. Only TEFAF Maastricht compares,’ says co-founder Peter Osborne. ‘Going back every year helps raise awareness of our gallery. We have to accept that a good percentage of our best clients will see us at the fair and not necessarily at the gallery. Every year we do a curated show at Frieze which then transfers to the gallery. Last year we did a highly successful show built around curator Lilian Somerville, and this year the theme is making and process, looking at post-war trends in the UK.’

Dry Fit (Series) Pink (2022) by Tenant of Culture, displayed here at Camden Art Centre last year
Dry Fit (Series) Pink (2022) by Tenant of Culture, displayed here at Camden Art Centre last year

Mazzoleni, a gallery which has attended since 2017, is collaborating with Kukje Gallery this year, presenting a selection of works from both Italian and Korean artists. Luigi Mazzoleni, owner and founding director, says, ‘Frieze Masters is a highlight of our annual calendar and every year there’s no question about our return. The fair is unique and ever-evolving, with the organisers continuously looking for new ways to ensure it stays relevant and fresh. With London as its backdrop – one of the most exciting of Europe’s art capitals – Frieze Masters attracts a vast array of international collectors, creating a buzz throughout the whole city. Last year we saw many familiar faces return to our stand, as well as many new and young collectors, giving us the opportunity to interact with a unique clientele that we don’t see at other international fairs. This resulted in significant sales, truly demonstrating Frieze Masters’ importance and dominance within the international art market calendar.’

The fair also showcases specialist dealers, including those selling rare books, ancient art, early Asian art, illuminated medieval manuscripts, antique arts and armour, antique silver specialists and Renaissance pottery. Sam Fogg, specialising in Islamic art and art of the European Middle Ages, says: ‘Every year we’ve met new clients, who might be visiting London from anywhere in the world. It used to be a fair more for collectors, but last year we sold four major pieces to international museums, and now Frieze Masters is where contemporary art collectors choose to broaden their options and the artworks to focus on. There is no better fair in the world for us.’

With such testimonials from gallerists, Frieze is certain to give London a boost after a dreary summer, and reassert the capital’s unassailable position as a vibrant cultural hub.

Frieze London is on in Regent’s Park, 11-15 October; frieze.com