Ben Davis’s Standout Artworks Amid The Chaos of Frieze New York 2015
Here's what to look for if you are in a hurry and want to see the best.
I can’t and won’t pretend that in the first few swarming hours of a fair, you can really pick winners for the ages.
You can only note some clear standouts, and flag works that are worthy but that might not stand out, getting lost in the tony chaos (see Frieze VIPs go Wild for Pia Camil’s Free Ponchos, Leonardo DiCaprio, Mike Myers, and Arnold Lehman Grace Celebrity VIP Frieze New York Preview, and Gagosian Bids on Darren Bader’s Junk Mail at Frieze New York Flea Market).
Here, then, are 5 things to mark on your maps for Frieze New York, 2015.
1. Archigram archives at Ibid Projects, London
For my money, this is, hands down, the best thing at the fair. And speaking of money, it’s not for sale. As a gambit to entice people into the installation of other artists from their program, Ibid has brought a selection of concept drawings and models from the legendary London experimental architects Archigram. This includes a 1963 diorama of a city of the future made from tinfoil from Warren Chalk and Ron Herron, a colorful elevation drawing of a pneumatic Instant City in a Field by Peter Cook (1969), and even pages from the thrilling architectural adventure comic book Amazing Archigram #4. See it here because you are not going to see it elsewhere: The material hails from the Archigram archives in London or, in a couple of cases, straight from the homes of Archigram greats.
2. CANAN at Rampa, Istanbul
Unveiled specifically for the fair, the Turkish artist CANAN (b. 1970) offers up a series that is something like The Guide to Getting It On rendered in the style of miniatures. She’s riffing off of an 18th-century Arabic work of erotic instructional literature, Bahname (The Book of Lust), picking out some choice positions, with the faces of her figures radiating guileless innocence as they go at it. The accompanying Turkish text—translated into English and shown below the drawings—highlights the attention paid to female pleasure.
3. Tiger Tateishi at Greengrassi, London
Ultra-cool 1970s canvases from the late Japanese painter Tiger Tateishi (1941-1998) are something like Georgio de Chirico in outer space. The Star of Mobius (1973) is a painting as psychedelic instruction manual, explaining how one could stitch the cratered landscapes of different planets into one continuous surface.
4. Zoe Leonard at Galleria Raffaella Cortese, Milan
Two black-and-white aerial views of the US/Canada border, the meandering arm of a river peaking through the dark woods, have the misty portentousness of a dream. “I like things to be startling in a quiet kind of way,” Leonard has said, and that’s exactly what these are.
5. Philomene Pirecki at Supplement, London
In the fair’s “Frame” section dedicated to newish galleries, this London-based artist’s standing sculpture-collages from her “Image Persistence” series amount to a kind of essay on the shape-shifting textures of images in the digital present: Desire as a Form of Energy layers woozy digital photos of the artist’s own paintings against images of smudged touchscreens, layers of delicate abstraction piling up in a way that is funky and slick at once.
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