Highlights of London’s Frieze Week 2019

Francesca Gavin is struck by rainbow-bright paintings, kinetic car-wash art and fluorescent “fairy berries”

Donna Huanca at Simon Lee Gallery
Donna Huanca at Simon Lee Gallery

Donna Huanca at Simon Lee Gallery

The Mayfair gallery’s solo booth showing Bolivian-American artist Donna Huanca is a Frieze week standout. Part of the satellite Transformer show at 180 The Strand, Huanca’s installation of large gestural abstract paintings and sculptural painted work is surrounded by white sand, sound elements and scent. Her fluid work is usually accompanied and activated by performance, but even on their own, these pieces (from $50,000) are collector catnip.

“Fairy berries” by the Haas Brothers at Marianne Boesky Gallery’s booth
“Fairy berries” by the Haas Brothers at Marianne Boesky Gallery’s booth
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Haas Brothers at Marianne Boesky Gallery

There were so many eager viewers at the New York gallery’s booth that it was no mean feat to reach the Haas Brothers’ sculptures. The Los Angeles-based twins have made their name with humorous, biomorphic work that has been embraced by the design world. This show was a successful major step into the realm of fine art, with a spectacular arrangement of “fairy berries”, which ranged from tiny fluorescent objects starting at $6,500 to large, textural ceramic sculptures hitting $75,000. A refreshing, psychedelic dose of joy. 

Sterling Ruby at Gagosian
Sterling Ruby at Gagosian
Lara Favaretto at Galleria Franco Noero
Lara Favaretto at Galleria Franco Noero

Sterling Ruby at Gagosian

It is impossible to miss Sterling Ruby’s vibrant orange paintings at Gagosian, the first booth on view at the fair. These new acid-coloured paintings – a patchwork of acrylic, oil, cardboard and fabric – are part of Ruby’s WIDW series, abstract works that balance his fascination with materials and his relationship to politics, economics, industry and pop culture. These HELIOS versions superbly highlight the big trend at the fair – intense rainbow colour.

Untitled (Boutique) by Graham Little at Alison Jacques Gallery
Untitled (Boutique) by Graham Little at Alison Jacques Gallery
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Lara Favaretto at Galleria Franco Noero

The Italian artist’s kinetic work at Turin’s Galleria Franco Noero is the most hypnotic exhibit of the fair. It consists of two coloured car-wash brushes that take turns to spin against a wall of iron slabs, gradually eroding and changing them over time. Taboo is a perfect example of Favaretto’s work, which has attracted fans such as Loewe creative director Jonathan Anderson and solo shows at MoMA PS1. A brilliant ode to minimalism, arte povera and the failure of human effort.

Graham Little at Alison Jacques Gallery

The Scottish artist’s intimate figurative paintings (from £30,000) are a highlight in any context. Untitled (Boutique) gives an everyday figure – a man working in a 1970s boutique – Renaissance weight worthy of Piero della Francesca. The composition is a fascinating take on depth and flatness, beauty and classicism, class and gender. Little is best known for his similar portrayals of women inspired by retro fashion magazines. These new male figures are engaging a whole new, eager audience. 

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