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10 art exhibitions to see during Frieze week

Published 26 September 2019

The beginning of October marks the start of Frieze week, and with it a slew of exciting new shows, installations and more popping up across London. Read on for our recommended list of what to see both in and beyond the fairs this month.

    • 1. Frieze London: Woven

      Stalls W1-W8, 3 October – 6 October 2019
      Of all the things to see at Frieze London, this year’s themed section Woven looks set to be a highlight. Curated by Cosmin Costinas, it will unite a diverse line-up that spans not only generations but geography – with work by artists from the Philippines, Brazil, India and beyond – with a focus on indigenous or underground practices in contemporary art, in particular textiles and traditional weaving techniques. Among the eight presentations is work from Pacita Abad’s 1990s Immigrant Experience series (L.A. Liberty, 1992; pictured), made using her own hybrid method that combines quilting with painting. Emerging through Abad’s layers of colourful paints, sequins, buttons and threads, appealing and instantly recognisable tropes from Americana, such as Lady Liberty, become strange and unfamiliar and even foreign, hinting at a United States more abstract and complex than we’ve been led to believe.

      Pacita Abad, L.A. Liberty (detail)

      Pacita Abad, L.A. Liberty (detail), 1992.

      Acrylic, cotton yarn, plastic buttons, mirrors, gold thread, painted cloth on stitched and padded canvas. Courtesy of Silverlens Galleries.

    • Gordon Parks, Untitled, Alabama

      Gordon Parks, Untitled, Alabama, 1956.

      Photograph. © The Gordon Parks Foundation. Courtesy of the Gordon Parks Foundation and Alison Jacques Gallery, London.

      2. Frieze Masters: Spotlight

      Stalls G4-H14, 3 October – 6 October 2019
      There are plenty of big names to watch out for at Frieze Masters – from Pop Art legends like Eduardo Paolozzi RA to Renaissance enigma Sandro Botticelli – but be sure you save some time for this year’s Spotlight section, a presentation of influential but historically overlooked figures of 20th century art. Among the selection, curated by Executive Director of the Drawing Center in New York, Laura Hoptman, is a solo presentation of works by American photojournalist Gordon Parks by Alison Jacques Gallery (stall G4). In Parks’ Untitled, Alabama (1956; pictured), two boys wield a frighteningly real-looking pair of guns, with the mischievous grin of a third boy barely enough to ease our fears; a taut balance of hope and fear that pervades throughout all of Parks’ work. It’s the perfect example of an image that encapsulates an artist and documentarian who, in his own words, saw photography as a product of the heart rather than the eye.

    • 3. Dialectical Materialism: Aspects of British Sculpture since the 1960s

      1 Park Village East, 28 September 2019 – 6 October 2019
      A former Victorian riding school just around the corner from Regent’s Park provides the setting for this new survey of British sculpture, curated by the late Karsten Schubert. The 1960s was a time of great liberation for British sculptors, who no longer felt constrained by the confines of the plinth or other traditional devices – perhaps best exemplified by Anthony Caro RA’s Andy (1966; pictured), in which a series of steel tubes and plates, assembled into a freestanding triangle, creates a delicate outline of red, drawing our attention to the empty space at its centre as much as to the sculpture itself. Also featured in the show will be works big and small by William Turnbull, Alison Wilding RA, Richard Long RA, Barry Flanagan RA and Rachel Whiteread.

      Anthony Caro RA, Andy

      Anthony Caro RA, Andy, 1966.

      Steel painted red. 299.7 x 176.5 x 57.2 cm. Courtesy Karsten Schubert.

    • Jonathan Baldock, My biggest fear is that someone will crawl into it

      Jonathan Baldock, My biggest fear is that someone will crawl into it, 2017.

      Mixed media; fabric, wood, bed, light bulb. © Jonathan Baldock. Courtesy the artist and Stephen Friedman Gallery, London..

      4. Jonathan Baldock at Fitzrovia Chapel

      Fitzrovia Chapel, 1 October – 5 October 2019
      Stephen Friedman Gallery presents a double-billing for British artist Jonathan Baldock this month, with an exhibition of his work in the gallery alongside a special, offsite work on show exclusively for Frieze week. The sombre and ornamented interior of Fitzrovia Chapel appears an unlikely though fitting backdrop for Baldock’s My biggest fear is someone will crawl into it (2017; pictured), a work as confessional as its name suggests. A large cuboid is covered in a melange of body parts, medical utensils and cigarettes, arranged in an order that suggests a face without actually showing one. Peeling back the panel of mouths reveals a red spotted bed – a tongue? – hidden inside, wherein visitors can lie down and listen in to the memoirs of Baldock’s own mother. If you’re the kind of person who’s always wanted to get inside someone’s head, this may well be as close as you’ll get.

    • 5. The Store X Vinyl Factory: Other Spaces

      180 The Strand, 1 October – 9 December 2019
      Three giant immersive installations will take over 180 The Strand this month, courtesy of United Visual Artists. While there’s something to look forward to in all three, our bets are on Vanishing Point (2013; pictured) being a particular highlight. Inspired by the experiments in perspective of Renaissance artists like Leonardo da Vinci and Albrecht Dürer, beams of light will appear from invisible vanishing points and cut, divide and box up a dark room, distorting our own sense of perspective in the process.

      United Visual Artists, Vanishing Point

      United Visual Artists, Vanishing Point, 2013.

      Installation view at Towner Art Gallery.

    • Ai Weiwei, Palace

      Ai Weiwei, Palace, 2019.

      Courtesy the artist, Lisson Gallery and neugerriemschneider, Berlin.

      143 x 256 x 185 cm.

      6. Ai Weiwei: Roots

      Lisson Gallery, 2 October – 2 November 2019
      What do we see when we look at Ai Weiwei Hon RA’s Palace (2019; pictured)? While its texture and sprawling forms suggest something out of nature, in fact our eyes deceive us, because what we’re looking at isn’t wood but rusting metal (Ai’s own way of eschewing the “polite art history” of polished steel). Cast in iron from the roots of endangered trees found in Brazil and then bolted together to create a newly abstracted form, Palace is one in a series of new ‘root’ sculptures on view at the Lisson Gallery this month, each in their own way pointing towards something both sacred but discarded, natural yet constructed – perhaps a visual nod to Ai’s own personal experience of uprootedness. Be sure to catch Ai Weiwei in conversation with the RA’s very own Artistic Director, Tim Marlow, at Frieze Masters at 12pm on Friday 4 October.

    • 7. Kara Walker: Hyundai Commission in the Turbine Hall

      Tate Modern, 2 October 2019 – 5 April 2020
      October is set to be a big month for American artist Kara Walker in the UK, with a solo presentation at Frieze London on behalf of Sikkema Jenkins & Co. (stall D8) coinciding with a new exhibition of work at Sprüth Magers – but most significant of all is the unveiling of her new commission for Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall. The exact nature of her commission is kept tightly under wraps for now, but the Tate promises to bring all the best aspects of Walker’s work to a British audience: a sense of monumentality, the weaving of historical narratives with fantasy, and how our own responses might play a part in shaping the meaning behind a work of art.

      Ari Marcopoulos, Portrait of Kara Walker

      Ari Marcopoulos, Portrait of Kara Walker.

    • Jack Killick, Ventilate

      Jack Killick, Ventilate, 2019.

      Acrylic on paper. 84 x 120 cm. Courtesy Chalton Gallery.

      8. Society: New Paintings by Hannah Bays, Jack Killick, Max Prus, and Antonia Showering

      Chalton Gallery, 3 – 26 October 2019
      Not far from Euston station, the Chalton Gallery will host a selection of new paintings by four young artists this month, among them three alumni of the RA Schools: Jack Killick, Max Prus and Hannah Bays. Of the eclectic works on show one of our favourites has to be Ventilate (2019; pictured) by Killick, a delightful hodge-podge of colourful shapes that lie somewhere between abstract figures in a crowd and an imagined architectural landscape. Society is one of many exhibitions, performances and installations the Chalton Gallery are putting on for Frieze Week, so make sure to check out what they’re up to while you’re around Regent’s Park.

    • 9. Elizabeth Peyton: Aire and Angels

      National Portrait Gallery, 3 October 2019 – 5 January 2020
      To look at a portrait by American artist Elizabeth Peyton is to be reminded of what goes into a painting: a face, like that of David Bowie (2017; pictured), appears not just as the culmination of paint strokes but also untouched areas of white canvas. Combined with its muted palette, the overall effect is an image that seems to emerge from a dream, hazy and incomplete yet still vivid. In this way Peyton lends an intimacy to Bowie and other celebrities like Liam Gallagher and Kurt Cobain, making them familiar less as public figures and more like close friends. Peyton herself will be in conversation at Frieze Masters from 3pm, on the opening day of this major solo exhibition.

      Elizabeth Peyton, David, March

      Elizabeth Peyton, David, March, 2017.

      Private Collection, San Francisco © Elizabeth Peyton.

    • Aïda Muluneh, Knowing the way to tomorrow

      Aïda Muluneh, Knowing the way to tomorrow, 2019.

      C-print. Commissioned by WaterAid and supported by H&M Foundation.

      10. Aïda Muluneh: Water Life

      1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair, Somerset House, 4 – 7 October 2019
      Over at Somerset House, the sixth edition of Europe’s only art fair dedicated exclusively to African art will be getting underway. Of all the special projects on show, we’re most excited about Aïda Muluneh’s Afrofuturist photography series Water Life. In Knowing the way to tomorrow (2019; pictured) a pair of mysterious figures perch on a rocky outcrop, dragging behind them a line of battered yellow tanks. The blue dress of one figure tumbles and flows over the rocks like a waterfall – the closest appearance we have to water in this otherwise barren image, photographed in one of the driest places on earth (Dallol, in northern Ethiopia). Inspired by the real journeys taken by women across Dallol every day to retrieve clean water, Muluneh shows us that, no matter what vision of the future we may conjure, the fundamental questions of survival will forever remain the most pressing for us to answer.

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