Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Frieze Week Diary, Day Three

The day that probably strikes a mixture of horror and excitement in any gallery owners’ hearts arrived again: the Frieze Art Fair opening. Artists and gallerists from all over the world make their way over to London for the annual event that gives top galleries the chance to show, meet, greet and above all, sell.

There was no ignoring the entrance this year – blazing high was "Frieze Art Fair" written in lights; and this attention-grabbing gateway was only just beginning. If you have not yet been to Frieze, then imagine the Westfield of the art world – like an enormous shopping centre – clinical, regimented and branded. With the layout designated by aisle names and numbers you cannot help but feel you are in an art jungle and the Fair Guide is your only manner of keeping control on where you are. Try to find anyone and you’ve set yourself a mission – a bombardment of texts such as, “I’m in row R! Where are you?” – “I’m at the frame end with Neil” and “We are currently at D16” may give you an idea of the geographical mayhem. 

If you are an avid ‘people-watcher’ like many of us are, then the Frieze opening is a heavenly place to be. There are clothes to be admired – and behaviour to marvel at. Perhaps one of the best spots of the night was a quick glimpse of Grayson Perry gliding past dressed in an outfit that can only be described as Little Boe-Peep in drag. Brave man. 

There is a generous mix of emerging galleries and the established staples. It is great to see new galleries taking part in the fair, such as the Parisian, Balice Hertling. Camped within the Frame section, where newer galleries present installations by just one artist. Unusually in the main section, Stephen Friedman Gallery also did this, dedicating their entire stand to the artist Jim Hodges and his installation piece, 'the dark gate' - a risk that paid off well.

After a substantial rush and dash to see what was needed to be seen, it was off to an after-party. I had come away the proud owner a Donor card - an instant artwork by Carey Young, and a series of postcards from the Collection of Mr & Mrs L.M. Kane, from the Ancient & Modern booth - not a bad turn out. The opening day a success behind us, with a sigh of relief the gallerists can really start to enjoy themselves. And that is what we all did.

Holly Willats

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