Frieze LA ’20

The fun of Frieze LA is seeing and be seen, feeling part of the “arts community,” especially if you have a VIP pass, which we’ve had the last two years, thanks to a friend at the Addison Gallery in Andover. The fair is much smaller than Frieze NY, which is in some ways a good thing – you’re not totally worn out by the effort of seeing everything. On the one hand, I found the art fairly conservative, in that I recognized more of the artists than I expected to. On the other hand, I tended to avoid booths that looked unfamiliar, often those with bright colors and biomorphic shapes, such that I had no memory of five of the “top ten” booths cited by Artsy.

In fact, my favorite esthetic experiences came from encountering works by artists I already admire: Richard Diebenkorn, Shirin Neshat, Tomas Saraceno, Anish Kapoor, Olafur Eliasson and James Turrell. To this extent, I’d better spend my time in a museum collection. My favorite booth was by Hyundai of South Korea, a gallery we’ve seen regularly at Frieze NY and perhaps elsewhere. Minjung Kim’s The Street, a mass of parasols from above, was Siri’s favorite, along with a Lee Ufan orange brushstroke, Dialogue (2015). Three works spanning the career of Chung Song-Hwa were all made of small white squares, similar to a show I’d seen at Gorvy-Levy in NY. The newcomer in the bunch was Shin Sung Hy, with a work I transcribed as Solution de Continuite. The tone of the gallery’s works was a soothing cream, reminiscent of the grey of Korean ceramics.

My (perhaps our) favorite work in the fair was a one-off photograph by Sharon Lockhart, Milena (2020). It showed a bunch of fading mums in a hand-tossed stoneware vase against a plain grey background. It was simply beautiful – a quality not necessarily aspired to elsewhere. As we were leaving, our friend Abaseh Mirvali introduced us to the artist and we heard the backstory of the work: a memorial to a troubled youth (named Milena) that the artist had befriended.

Tacita Dean had a series called Study for Purgatory that was sophisticated and delicate, belying the complexity of the works’ construction, any one of which I could have lived with happily.  If I had bought something, though, it might have been a pair of Takako Yamaguchi’s  trompe-l’oeil paintings, all white but appearing three-dimensional with geometric shapes carved into or extruding out of the background. They could go in our New York kitchen (where our Badri mixed-media is), provoking a double-take, I’m sure, from any visitor.

If there was one edgy piece I liked it was Yoan Capote’s Postcard Skyline, a black-and-white silhouette of a New York-like view from the Hudson that was made of fish hooks and similar metal, nothing you could get too close to.

The next day we spent at ALAC, a much-lesser collection of galleries housed in the Hollywood Athletic Club, a fun venue not unlike the Ukrainian Institute near us on 79th Street. There was a thick painting of a Belding’s Sparrow, based on Fabritius’s Goldfinch, by an artist chronicling near-extinct species. There were black-and-white photos from Mali in the ’70s by a successor to Seydou Keita and Malick Sadibe. We had a nice chat with a German dealer about a optical recomposed stripe work by Ben Echeverria. A relatively high-end Laguna Beach gallery had works by California light-and-air female artists, including Mary Corse. And best of all was a chance meeting with Edward Cella when we admired photographs of skateboard parks by Amir Zaki.

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