Frieze Week is upon us – and the word ‘Week’ deserves its capital letter, if one considers how the annual Frieze Art Fair in Regent’s Park spurs the whole London art scene to launch simultaneous exhibitions and art events. Most commercial galleries make sure to programme the opening of a major show during the period of the fair, in an effort to get the attention of an energised art-loving public and, crucially, the jetset of artists, collectors and curators who visit the capital. Here’s the lowdown on RA Magazine’s top 10 exhibitions opening their doors away from the Regent’s Park tent:
1. Lari Pittman at Thomas Dane
Until 17 November 2012
Los Angeles-born painter Lari Pittman divides his time between America and Mexico, and both countries’ hectic visual cultures are mixed in his canvases in a kaleidoscopic blur of colour. St James’s gallery Thomas Dane shows his recent works, christened ‘Thought-Forms’, in which recognisable figurative motifs from bells to birds are arranged in lively patterns, only to be obscured and bordered by tight geometric shapes in the form of frames and gauzes.
2. Metamorphosis at All Visual Arts
Until 12 October 2012
Following on from the National Gallery’s show dedicated to Titian’s idea of metamorphosis, a very large group exhibition of contemporary artists – on view in the crypt in the Sir John Soane RA-designed Holy Trinity Church, now known as One Marylebone Road – examines the same wide-ranging theme. Highlights of over 100 works from 48 artists include American photographer Cindy Sherman’s self-portrait as a satyr and odd biomorphic objects by the French artist Johan Creten.
3. Tom Friedman at Stephen Friedman Gallery
Until 10 November 2012
A decade after his last exhibition at Mayfair’s Stephen Friedman Gallery, American sculptor Tom Friedman (no relation) returns to the space to present new works that characteristically make wonderfully clever use of everyday materials and objects. The main room will be taken over by an installation of tangled wires and other pieces will make use of the qualities of Styrofoam in unusual ways.
4. Anish Kapoor at Lisson Gallery
10 October – 10 November 2012
Anish Kapoor RA, so celebrated for his work in the public realm of late, displays some of his major new sculptures in a gallery context this autumn at Edgware Road’s Lisson Gallery. The variety of the works on view is notable, including monochromatic concave pieces, a ready-made (the artist’s first) and rough-hewn sculptures whose shapes and textures resemble geological forms.
5. Peter Fischli/David Weiss – Spruth Magers
10 October – 10 November 2012
Conceptual artists Peter Fischli and the late David Weiss adapted objects from everyday life, bringing out their material properties as well as their non-material characteristics, such as their intrinsic humour or the way their meaning could change when presented in a new context. Their most famous work, The Way things Go (1987), is well worth watching on YouTube if you haven’t yet seen it. Sprüth Magers near Piccadilly presents a series of the Swiss collaborators’ unfired clay sculptures, whose commonplace forms – all either in the shape of a wall, corner piece or tube – become rather uncanny when placed on a plinth.
6. Tim Noble and Sue Webster – Blain Southern
10 October – 24 November 2012
Blain Southern off Oxford Street stages the first London solo show by British artists Tim Noble and Sue Webster in six years. Entitled enigmatically ‘Nihilistic Optimistic’, the exhibition features six major works, some of which function, unexpectedly, as self-portraiture. They comprise discarded wood and other junk-style materials in seemingly ad-hoc arrangements, but when illuminated from a certain angle, the silhouettes of these sculptures represent those of the artists on the wall.
7. Joana Vasconcelos at Haunch of Venison
10 October - 17 November 2012
Haunch of Venison’s Mayfair space will be filled with the assemblages of artist Joana Vasconcelos, whose reputation has been further confirmed with the recent announcement that she will represent Portugal in next year’s Venice Biennale. Her installations on view include a kinetic ‘flower sculpture’ whose moving petals are functioning steam irons, as well as tile structures intended to resemble the Tetris computer game.
8. Frank Auerbach at Marlborough Fine Arts
12 October – 10 November 2012
Preeminent British painter Frank Auerbach came to prominence in the 1950s, representing in powerful impasto paint the building sites of post-war London, and has spent later years capturing on canvases the streets near his studio in Camden Town. The central piece in Marlborough Fine Arts’ autumn exhibition of his work is the large-scale Next Door III (2011–12), in which an image of a gateway near his studio foregrounds thick lines of surrounding structures. Two smaller versions and many preparatory sketches are on view alongside some of the artist’s rare self-portraits.
9. Kiki Smith at Timothy Taylor Gallery
11 October - 17 November 2012
New York-based artist Kiki Smith has since the 1980s used the body as her central subject, explored in a wide variety of media and drawing on diverse sources, from classical sculpture, religious icons and Hollywood films. The works on view at the West End’s Timothy Taylor Gallery, which include stained glass, tapestries and bronze wall reliefs, focus in particular on the body’s relationship with the natural world.
10. Franz West at Gagosian Gallery
Until November 10
The late Austrian artist Franz West is the subject of a solo show at Gagosian’s expansive Kings Cross space. Partly inspired by the live art works of the Viennese Actionists, West brought a performative quality to sculpture: his mixed-media abstract works, often made from grungy materials like paint-splashed papier mâché, were devised for interaction with or use by the public. His lumpen, cartoonish, almost comedic large-scale pieces are far more lively that the cool and precise public art more often seen on European streets.