Helly Nahmad Stages a Mental Asylum with Jean Dubuffet Art Brut Works at Frieze Masters

There are three uncanny rooms to wander through.

'The Asylum' is based on a concept by Helly Nahmad, designed by Robin Brown, and produced by Anna Pank Photo: courtesy Helly Nahmad Gallery
'The Asylum' is based on a concept by Helly Nahmad, designed by Robin Brown, and produced by Anna Pank
Photo: courtesy Helly Nahmad Gallery

Do you remember “The Collectors” stand by Helly Nahmad Gallery at last year’s Frieze Masters? Well, they have pulled it off again with another immersive booth collaboration, this time with the Jean Dubuffet inspired “Asylum.”

Light opera music is audible as you approach the stand which consists of three rooms. The first appears to be a sparse doctor’s study, complete with notes and stethoscopes. Next is the small and simple room of a patient, the walls covered with drawings. The final communal room is filled with chairs and tables. Again, the walls are covered with writing and drawings.

'The Asylum' Helly Nahmad at Frieze Masters <br>Photo: Amah-Rose Abrams

‘The Asylum’ Helly Nahmad at Frieze Masters
Photo: Amah-Rose Abrams

The intricate recreation of rooms in a 1940s asylum retraces the inspiration for the works facing them. Dubuffet began to paint in what became known as the Art Brut style after visiting many asylums in France, and Switzerland, where he collected artworks made by the patients, the mentally ill, but also by children, and others at the fringes of society.

This atmospheric set at Frieze Masters is an ideal foil to the Dubuffet works, echoing their style and heightening their bright colors and free composition.

'The Asylum' Helly Nahmad at Frieze Masters <br>Photo: Amah-Rose Abrams

‘The Asylum’ Helly Nahmad at Frieze Masters
Photo: Amah-Rose Abrams

For more on Frieze Week, see our Top 10 Booths at Frieze London, Insider’s Guide to the Best and Worst of London’s Frieze Week 2015, Our Top 10 Booths at Frieze Masters, and be sure to make use of artnet News’ 5 Tips for Every Art Fairgoer.


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