Frieze London, the diamond-encrusted juggernaut of international art fairs, celebrates its thirteenth year in the capital this year, while its younger (though more sedate) sibling Frieze Masters notches up four years on the other side of Regent’s Park. It’ll take you at least a day to see both, but we’ve been as busy as the Regent’s Park squirrels to round-up the best art to make a beeline for.
Here are just a few exhibits not to miss.
Cats are massive at Frieze London this year. And none are bigger than Turner Prize winner Mark Leckey’s inflatable Felix on the Galerie Buchholz stand (D8). The feline theme continues over at Sadie Coles (D2), where our favourite YBA Sarah Lucas’s slinky black moggies lurk in an installation painted the same shade of custard yellow as her Venice Biennale show earlier this year. In other cat news: Ryan Trecartin’s collaged kitten sits trapped in a ‘Cage of Desire’ at Sprüth Magers (C5). Mee-ouch.
Signs of irony
‘Welcome to Purgatory’ reads one lol-tastic statement written on the black walls of the Frieze Art Fair entrance corridor. The arch makeover (which includes thick plastic strip curtains like you’d find in a warehouse or butcher’s) is thanks to cult US artist Lutz Bacher who, refreshingly in 2015, doesn’t do interviews and refuses to have her photograph taken. Meanwhile Jack Pierson is serving up a diet of ‘Breakfast Hope’, ‘Dinner Fear’ with his existential restaurant signs on the Cheim & Read stand (A6).
Get on your knees
Bending, squatting and hunching to see art isn’t something you might expect at a fair, but some of the more vertically challenged exhibits are worth contorting your body to experience. This year’s Frieze Artists Award winner Rachel Rose (P7) has created a mini version of Frieze London, which means getting on your hand and knees and crawling like a child will be the only way you can appreciate her immersive installation dedicated to the animals of Regent’s Park. While back near Frieze London’s entrance, artist and theatre designer Jeremy Herbert has taken his work subterranean. Entering through a tiny door, you huddle down a sloping ramp into a brilliantly cool space with a vista of the fair’s metal structure before hunching up again to make your exit from another tiny door.
Art comes a knocking
Even the tippy tapping of Jimmy Choos on VIP day couldn’t drown out the beats of Anri Sala’s self-playing drum, suspended from the ceiling at Marian Goodman (C7). A more genteel tinkling can be heard at Max Hetzler (A9), where Inge Mahn’s sculpture comprises a circle of white chairs, each with an empty wine glass on the seat. Attached to a central rotating rod is a crystal that gives each glass a delicate tap as it passes. The beat goes on in the Frieze Sculpture Park where Haroon Mirza’s ‘Standing Stones (Solay Symphony 8)’, a collaboration with Mattia Bosco, puts the rock in, um, rock with a solar-powered display of sound that emanates from within vast chunks of marble whose seams are also embedded with LED.
Take a load off
With all the miles you’ll walk at both Frieze London and Frieze Masters, it’s important to take a break and rest those weary feet. Fortunately some booths and Frieze Projects offer some much needed lounging opportunities. Collective Åyr (P1) have transformed a corridor space into a home from home with beds and armchairs. While over at Frieze Masters at the back of Gallery of Everything’s stand (B10) you are able not only to perch on a stool but can also try out the gallery’s Bar of Everything vodka concoction, resting tired legs and reinvigorating your spirit. Result!
However, don't try sitting on Ann Agee's elaborately tiled loo at the great PPOW stand (G2). It's not plumbed in, for a start. Do, however, enjoy the American artist's groovy updates of traditional blue-and-white Delftware. We see a pattern emerging: Up in Focus, where most of the fun new stuff that you probably wont have seen before is shown, Shanghai-based Antenna Space (H32) are showing young Chinese artist Guan Xiao’s snake skin patterned photo-shoot backdrop. Sexed up selfie, anyone? Galerie Gregor Staiger's (H22) booth is perked up by American artist Shana Moulton’s faux hospital bed and psychedelic screen, which would cheer up any sick person or weary fair goer.
Art fairs are all about making the most dollar and thrashing your competition, right? Perhaps, but a spirit of collaboration wafts through Frieze Masters, where galleries have teamed up to share stands. We especially love the combination of Old Master and Neoclassical sculpture with works on paper by op-art goddess Bridget Riley, courtesy of Tomasso Brothers Fine Art and Karsten Schubert (C3).
Of course, it's really about the art. And that's the great thing about Frieze Masters. One minute you're looking at a brilliant little Braque, the next you're blown away by something ancient, then in awe of a Martin Kippenberger, then, hello, it's Joshua Reynolds. You just don't get that anywhere else. So get yourself over to Regent's Park.
We'll be back at the fairs later this week, so be sure to follow us @timeoutldnart on Instagram.