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Frieze London Was A Bold And Colourful Celebration Of Diverse Minds


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By Lucy Cocoran on 16th October 2023

From eye-catching works on canvas to out-of-the-box installations, this year’s Frieze London was one not to be missed.

Every year, hordes of art lovers descend upon Regents Park for the annual installation of Frieze London - one of the world’s most influential contemporary art fairs. Here, guests have the unique opportunity to discover emerging talent as they make their debut, while also having the privilege to view art from established names who are already widely celebrated.

Spearheaded by artistic director Eva Langret, the festival is heavily powered by women, with a focus on female talent abundant throughout. Langret, who said it was her mission to highlight “London’s art scene now”, seamlessly fused both existing and upcoming talent in all its radiant diversity.

Below, some of The Sybarite’s favourite exhibitions from the fair.

Margarita by Manuel Solano, presented by Peres Projects

After losing their sight to an HIV-related illness in 2013, Manuel Solano thought their career as an artist was over. This colourful painting of a margarita was retrieved from the artist's mental image bank, created by using tactile placement markers like pipe cleaners, pins and strings to map the areas they would then fill in with paint-covered fingers. This fun and playful piece is the embodiment of visual creativity from a talented artist who has truly defied the odds. 

Unheard Musings by Cece Philips, presented by Peres Projects

Continuing around Peres Projects’ exhibition, four walls proudly housed works by Cece Philips, who explored how women of colour exist in Britain’s suburban spaces with painted works on canvas. Unheard Musings, primarily made up of rich, blue hues, depicts a woman at home, with the viewer embarking on a voyeuristic adventure, watching her through the window. There is a certain loneliness to Philips’ work, with the focal points always feeling just out of reach, but this is entirely the point. Expertly playing with intimacy and distance, her exhibition was a powerful social commentary. 

Image: Instagram @cecephilips
Image: Instagram @cecephilips

Shut Eye by Danielle McKinney, presented by Marianne Boeksy Gallery

Marking not only her Frieze debut, but her first solo debut, Danielle McKinnery presented a series of works focusing on black women in various states of rest. These oil on linen paintings each featured a moody background, with a human focus at the fore, be it a woman's hands, face or body. Sourcing her subjects from photos and film, sometimes as far back as the 1960s and 1970s, McKinney reclaims the identities of women who have often been relegated to the background of artwork, bringing them to the fore in a powerful way. Urging viewers to consider what these women do when they aren’t at work, her paintings take seemingly mundane activities and make them beautiful. 

Image: Instagram @danielle_mckinney_
Image: Instagram @danielle_mckinney_

Barbara Chase-Riboud – Standing Black Women of Venice, presented by Hauser & Wirth

Amidst the white-washed walls of Frieze, a deep, dark exhibit lured in countless curious eyes. Brought to Frieze by 84-year-old Barbara Chase-Riboud, three eight-foot-tall abstract sculptures were dotted throughout the dedicated space. Titled 'Standing Black Women of Venice', each of them represented the three first-known female poets from across the ancient world: Vijja, Praxilla, and Nossis. As a point of contrast, the walls of her exhibit were dotted with framed works on paper, adorned with loops of white silk sewn into various shapes. The artist is widely celebrated for being a trailblazer in her field, well into later age. Having been the first woman of colour to graduate with an Master of Fine Arts from Yale and the first female American artist to have a solo show at MoMA Paris, she has continually forged her own path and continues to do so. 

Image: Frieze
Image: Frieze

All About Survival by Adam Farah-Saad, presented by Public Gallery

The Focus section of the fair, which celebrates new galleries and creatives at the forefront of the scene, drew an intrigued crowd around an installation from London-based artist Adam Farah-Saad. With a 360 degree viewpoint, spectators entering the exhibit were greeted by a CD tower mounted on a billboard print of Staples Corner, with albums from Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey available to play. Inside, a steel fountain sculpture (inspired by the communal hand washing fountain in the men’s toilets at Wood Green shopping centre) continuously pumped grape soda from its spouts - a favourite drink of the artists. On one wall, a chime sculpture made from poppers explores Farah-Saad’s relationship with addiction and healing. These collections of objects, while seemingly random, all paint a strong picture of the artist's personal past, while subtly paying tribute to queer and marginalised communities.

Image: Frieze
Image: Frieze

Caballero Alto by Débora Delmar, presented by Llano Gallery

In the Focus section of the fair was a stark white inflatable from Débora Delmar, who is renowned for creating sculptural installations which speak to capitalism and colonialism. The castle was almost reminiscent of a child's bouncy castle- but with a very different underlying message. Titled 'Caballero Alto', the piece was inspired by the watchtower of Mexico City’s Chapultepec Castle: the historic site of a bloody battle in 1847 between Mexican and American, during which many lost their lives. Surrounding the installation, a series of paintings hung on the wall, titled Liberty Roses - a colour filled contrast to its all-white counterparts. 

Image: Instagram @supdd
Image: Instagram @supdd

With each year arguably more exciting and innovative than the last, Frieze London has cemented itself as an unmissable event in the cultural calendar.

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