My last trip to the Frieze tent, in 2019, ended up as a bit of a disaster, not that I admitted it on here at the time. After three hours of walking, looking intently, elbowing aside crowds and becoming increasingly unbalanced by loading more and more free merchandise into my straining tote, I ended up having a quiet panic attack in Benugo, vowing never again. If you’re not important enough to buy any of the work on show, then you’re effectively paying quite a lot to be overstimulated to the point of exhaustion - not really the best frame of mind to look at art.
This year's Frieze was way better. That's because I didn’t brave the tent, but exercised the wallet-friendly alternative of viewing the sculpture exhibits outside. Really convenient as it happens: it’s in the corner of Regent’s Park next to my office. So, rather than being hyper focused, wired on FOMO and surrounded by sweaty indoors hordes, my 2021 Frieze experience was a slow half-hour ramble on a sunny lunch hour, accompanied by a few mums with children, joyfully ignoring the (silly) “please don’t touch or climb” signs on many of the tempting sculptures on show.
I enjoyed Gisela Colón’s giant shiny space dick (Sorry, Quantum Shift, (Parabolic Monolith Sirius Titanium)), a sly feminising of pompous masculine tropes which reminded me of Sylvie Fleury. And it was great, having been inspired by the offcuts at Holtermann Fine Art a couple of weeks back, to see Jorge Otero-Pailos’ giant Biosignature Preservation, made from destroyed sections of a Bush-era American Embassy security fence.
Sculpture parks should always be aimed at pleasing people, rather than bat-squeaking esoterica, and Frieze got the memo this year. There are two large installations of coloured glass that looked just lovely in the sunshine: José Pedro Croft’s and Environnement de Transchromie Circulaire, a reproduction of a 1965 work from Carlos Cruz-Diez, a kind of groovy Stonehenge that’s irresistible to photograph for the gram… I took several, including the one above.
A nice way to spend a lunch hour, then, and no breakdowns in Benugo this time. Who needs another tote, anyway?
Frieze Sculpture is at The Regent’s Park (London). 14 September - 31 October 2021