Over a year since the last iteration of the Frieze art fair took place in Los Angeles, and coming down on the other side of the turbulence of the last year under the Covid-19 pandemic, Frieze New York has touched down at The Shed on Manhattan’s West Side, a re-entry into the annual run of blue-chip events that have been few and far between, or confined to an online edition for the last year. Here, with an abundance of caution and a range of measures put in place to limit the number of attendees in the space at a given time, the fair still made something of a return to its old form.
Reimagined for its new location, the 2021 edition of the fair features a strong contingent of New York and US-based exhibitors, focusing in particular on the local and the national to sidestep still challenging travel restrictions, and the risks of traveling as the world moves out of the contagion. At Tanya Bonakdar, one could peruse new works by the artist Kelly Akashi, expressive forms drawn from a range of materials intended to negotiate space between natural and pre-made materialities, while at Gagosian, one could view work by by Rachel Feinstein and paintings by Ewa Juszkiewicz, parallel visions that dwelled on expressive interpolations of form and space, disparate cultural reference systems, and narrative arcs. Also of note was a confounding collision of works by Annette Messager on view at Marian Goodman a continuation of the artist’s work incorporating the familiar and the unfamiliar in clusters of converging materials.
Continuing to provide a platform for galleries that have been active for 10 years or less, the fair’s acclaimed Frame section, dedicated to solo artist presentations, had also returned, this year advised by gallerists Olivia Barrett (Château Shatto) and Sophie Mörner (Company Gallery). At the Château Shatto booth, one could view a selection of works by Zeinab Saleh, subtle but moving compositions imbued with discrete, powerful narratives. Also of note was a joint booth by Bridget Donahue and Hannah Hoffman, showing a selection of works by Olga Balema.
As a whole, the fair gave off the sense of a tentative first step back, a bit unsure of itself, but nevertheless making its way back out into the public. But with that first step comes more, and the event possessed a certain reassurance that life will soon return to the usual order of events.
The fair closes May 9th.
– D. Creahan
Frieze New York [Exhibition Site]