Your A to Z guide to Frieze week

Published 9 October 2015

As an alphabet of art opens in London to coincide with the Frieze art fairs, we give you the ABC guide to the top shows to see.

  • A is for auctions

    If your pockets are deep, or even if your pockets have holes in, an auction house is an interesting place to visit in the run-up to a sale, when works go on show for a few days before they change hands. To draw the collectors in town for Frieze London, Sotheby’s and Christie’s both show eclectic hoards of hundreds of contemporary art works ahead of their sales on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Out of the younger artists, painters lead the charge, including RA Schools alumna Lynette Yiadom-Boakye and Boston-born Jonas Wood, whose naïve, dynamically coloured interiors and cityscapes channel the spirits of Rousseau and Matisse. Serendipitously, Wood’s first exhibition in London opens on Tuesday at Gagosian’s Kings Cross gallery (Jonas Wood, Gagosian Gallery, Britannia Street, London, 13 October – 19 December).
    Contemporary Art Evening Auction, Sotheby’s, Thursday 15 October, 7pm; Contemporary Art Day Auction, Sotheby’s, Friday 16 October, 10am; Post War & Contemporary Art Evening Auction, Christie’s, Friday 16 October, 7pm; Post War & Contemporary Art Day Auction, Christie’s, Saturday 17 October, 1pm; Contemporary Art Evening Sale, Phillips, Wednesday 14 October, 7pm; Contemporary Art Day Sale, Phillips, Thursday 15 October, 2pm

    B is for Body Shop

    The oldest subject in the history of art, the human body fascinates today’s contemporary artists as much as their 20th-century counterparts. Michael Werner, a glamorous Mayfair gallery close to Hyde Park, brings together a strange but fascinating group of modern and recent works in the exhibition Body Shop, ranging from Hans Arp’s take (1955) on the Paleolithic Venus of Willendorf Vallatton to neo-expressionist painted figures by Don Van Vliet (1985).
    Body Shop, Michael Werner Gallery, London, 30 September – 5 December

    C is for Cruzvillegas

    One of the triumphs of Tate Modern has been the wonderful series of site-specific works it has staged in its Turbine Hall each year. This year’s commission – now underwritten by Hyundai – is revealed on Monday, and will be the work of Abraham Cruzvillegas. The Mexican artist is known for creating sculptures and installations out of found materials ranging from wheelbarrows and bicycles to off-cuts of wood and old clothes, so it will be curious to see how his rough-and-ready aesthetic translates itself to the epic scale of the space.
    Hyundai Commission 2015: Abraham Cruzvillegas: Empty Lot, Tate Modern, London, 13 October 2015 – 3 April 2016

    D is for Djordjadze

    Thea Djordjadze’s new show at the South London Gallery is the kind of exhibition you need to see alone, with only you in the gallery. The Georgian-born, Berlin-based artist has used Perspex, planks of wood and other plain materials to create a hyper minimalist response to the Peckham gallery’s main space, with geometric floor assemblages no taller than knee-high and a small number of angular shelves flush to the wall – an exquisite if highly restrained installation. Djordjadze is also presenting Matisse-inspired mobile sculptures within the Frieze London tent as part of Frieze Projects, the fair’s programme of site-specific commissions.
    Thea Djordjadze, South London Gallery, London, until 29 November

    E is for English Garden of Regent’s Park

    While tickets to the Frieze art fairs are not cheap, their free sculpture park – in the bucolic English Garden in the south-east of Regent’s Park, close to Frieze London – makes up for it. This year expect to find aside the herbaceous borders works including a classic steel-sheet sculpture by American Minimalist legend Richard Serra Hon RA and a solar-powered sound and light sculpture by London-based artist Haroon Mirza.
    The Frieze London Sculpture Park, Regent’s Park, London, Wednesday 14 October – Saturday 17 October

  • F is for Frieze London and Frieze Masters

    The main event is two main events: Frieze London, the annual polyphonic spree of brand new art established in 2003, and Frieze Masters, the relatively recent newcomer showing older artworks ranging all the way from antiquity to the 20th-century. The success of any art fair is judged by the calibre of the galleries it can attract, and Frieze London has added three strong spaces this year in New York’s Cheim & Read, Paris’s Galerie Kamel Mennour and London’s Simon Lee Gallery.
    Frieze London, Wednesday 14 October - Saturday 17 October and Frieze Masters, Wednesday 14 October – Sunday 18 October

    G is for Gagosian

    The world’s most famous contemporary art dealer, Larry Gagosian, opens another London space in time for Frieze Week. The new gallery is on Grosvenor Hill in Mayfair and its double-height, day-lit spaces shows, from Saturday, the stirring paintings of Cy Twombly, an artist whose gestural abstraction – sometimes incorporating scribbles and scrawled text alongside powerful swirls of colour – has a singular place in post-war American art.
    Cy Twombly, Gagosian Gallery Grosvenor Hill, London, 10 October – 12 December

    H is for Hirst and Hoyland

    Artists often make great collectors, as Martin Gayford argued in a recent issue of RA Magazine, talking to artists including Howard Hodgkin, Georg Baselitz Hon RA and Damien Hirst about their acquisitions. Now the latter has launched his own gallery in Vauxhall to show his favourites. The building, designed by Caruso St John (the architects also behind the new Gagosian Gallery), opens with an exhibition of the majestic abstracts of John Hoyland RA. Read Hirst and Hoyland in conversation in an edition of RA Magazine from 2009.
    John Hoyland: Power Stations Paintings, 1964 – 1982, Newport Street Gallery, London, 8 October – 3 April 2016

    I is for Irwin

    While American Minimalism is often identified with New York – Carl Andre’s floor works, Dan Flavin’s neon lights, the industrial objects of Donald Judd in his SoHo sanctuary – there is a rich vein of West Coast Minimalism less widely shown in the UK: the ‘Light and Space’ movement, whose works emphasise an attention to the fall of light and changing perceptions of space. One of its chief proponents, Californian artist Robert Irwin, now in his 88th year, has a solo show during Frieze Week at Bermondsey’s White Cube.
    Robert Irwin: 2 x 2 x 2 x 2, White Cube, Bermondsey, London, 23 September – 15 November 2015

  • J is for Jacir

    Whitechapel Art Gallery turns its attention to the Middle East this year with a series of displays of the Barjeel Art Foundation, one of the most significant collections of the region’s modern and contemporary art. Meanwhile, in some of its main gallery spaces, it presents the first UK survey by Emily Jacir, a celebrated multi-disciplinary Palestinian artist whose focus is recent political history, in particular the Arab-Israeli conflict and migration from the Middle East to Europe.
    Emily Jacir: Europa, 30 September – 3 January 2016. Barjeel Art Foundation Collection: Imperfect Chronology – Debating Modernism I, 8 September – 6 December, Whitechapel Gallery, London

    K is for Kentridge

    If you’ve ever wished that contemporary art should be more dramatic then a good place to go this week is Marian Goodman Gallery on Golden Square, which presents a stunning show of William Kentridge Hon RA, the acclaimed South African artist who worked as a theatre director before becoming an artist. The top floor of the Soho space includes a huge multi-screen video installation in which figures march and dance from screen to screen, led by a brass band and holding up like propaganda silhouettes of figures from Kentridge’s drawings.
    William Kentridge: More Sweetly Play the Dance, Marian Goodman Gallery, London, until 24 October 2015

    L is for Landy

    We interviewed Michael Landy recently in his Bethnal Green studio as the Royal Academician prepared a series of red and white drawings full of irreverent found popular symbols, texts and signs. His studio is now open to the public during the month of October and the walls are covered every which way by this large body of work. Known collectively as Breaking News, the drawings – all made on torn paper – recall the sensation of reading British red-top newspapers, as different images and ideas jump out as the eye scans the room.
    Michael Landy Studio, Bethnal Green, London, 2 October – 1 November

    M is for Multiplied

    If you’re looking to buy some work this week but the prices in the Frieze London tent make your eyes water, then Multiplied – hosted by Christie’s in South Kensington – may well be your port of call, dedicated as it is to limited-editions in every media. Highlights include Rabley Contemporary, which shows Emma Stibbon RA’s sumptuous intaglio works, and the Academy’s print publishing arm RA Editions, which includes inventive work by RA Schools alumni and Academicians.
    Multiplied Art Fair, Christie’s, London, Friday 16 – Sunday 18 October

  • N is for the new section, Collections

    Frieze London and Frieze Masters have tried to stay ahead of the art fair competition by regularly launching new sections and initiatives. This year sees the first iteration of Collections, a section curated by Norman Rosenthal, the dynamic former Exhibitions Secretary of the Royal Academy who was responsible for sensational shows including Sensation in 1997. Eight galleries are on view, all of whom bring together collections of artworks rarely seen elsewhere in the fair, including Italian Renaissance Maiolica ceramics and Egyptian carvings.
    Collections, Frieze Masters, London, Wednesday 14 – Sunday 18 October

    O is for Olabarrieta

    OK, this O – Beatriz Olabarrieta’s solo show at MOT International on Bond Street – is not strictly opening in Frieze Week, opening as it does the following week, but the Bilbao-born London-based contemporary artist is one artist to watch. Her witty installations blend industrial-electric elements (neon bulbs, fans, heaters) with moving image (animations, videos, projections) and playful, sculptural objects: the perfect hair of the dog after a Frieze Week art hangover.
    Beatriz Olabarrieta: Cosmic Clap, MOT International, London, 23 October – 21 November, 2015

    P is for PRA

    In Royal Academy parlance, the acronym PRA stands for President of the Royal Academy, and these three letters have been suffixed to the artist Christopher Le Brun since his election in 2011. In Ben Luke’s recent words in RA Magazine, Le Brun has a “deep conviction in and passion for painting’s transcendent power and enduring mysteries”, and visitors to recent Summer Exhibitions have been captivated by his emotionally intense, large-scale, increasingly abstract oils. A new show at Colnaghi contrasts the artist’s canvases with his prints, rugs and sculpture produced.
    Christopher Le Brun Colour: Rugs Prints Paintings Sculpture, Colnaghi, London, 7 October – 6 November

    Q is for Quaintance

    Frieze London inaugurates its “Reading Room” this year dedicated to art publishers. One of its innovations is a series of talks and other events, programmed by the magazines involved, which include Art Forum, White Review and Art Monthly. The latter tackles the thorny subject of post-internet art – art in any media informed by the structures and manifestations of the internet – with a panel discussion including critic Morgan Quaintance, one of the most interesting thinkers on this subject (and a man with a very attractive surname for someone trying to write an art A to Z).
    Art Monthly: The End(s) of Post-Internet Art, 12.30pm The Reading Room, Frieze London, Friday 16 October

    R is for Riley

    The advent of Frieze Masters alongside Frieze London since 2012 is an overdue acknowledgement that contemporary art is always constantly in dialogue with art of the past. A perfect example was Bridget Riley, one of Britain’s greatest living artists, whose unique Op Art approach – which now seems so singular – was actually developed through the study of Pointillism, in particularly the supreme painter George Seurat. The influence of Seurat on Riley is tracked today in a lovely show at the Courtauld.
    Bridget Riley: Learning from Seurat, Courtauld Gallery, London, until 17 January 2016

    S is for Schools alumni

    In the latest issue of RA Magazine, we focused on RA Schools alumni Eddie Peake and Prem Sahib who, only two years after graduation, have major public solo shows opening during Frieze week, at the Barbican and the ICA respectively. But there are other recent RA alumni to mention too, such as Hannah Perry, who has a show at Shoreditch gallery Seventeen opens this week, and Rebecca Ackroyd, whose new work is on view at Hunter/Whitfield. The Royal Academy is smiling collectively like a proud mother.
    Rebecca Ackroyd: Taken Care, Hunter/Whitfield, London, 9 October – 21 November; Eddie Peake: The Forever Loop, The Curve Gallery at the Barbican, London, 9 October – 10 January 2016; Hannah Perry: Mercury Retrograde, Seventeen Gallery, London, 10 October – 5 December; Prem Sahib: Side On, ICA, London, until 15 November; Prem Sahib: End Up, Southard Reid, London, 7 October – 14 November

  • T is for Transformation Marathon

    Serpentine Gallery Co-Director Hans Ulrich Obrist masterminds an artistic marathon event every October. In 2006, he conceived an Interview Marathon – successive public interviews with enlightened artists and thinkers over a weekend. After focuses on poetry, gardens, maps, manifestos, experiments, memory, the post-1989 generation and extinction, this year’s subject is transformation, and as ever the Serpentine has enlisted an enviable line-up of the brightest and more original brains in the world.
    The Transformation Marathon, ON STAGE: Saturday 17 October 10am – 10pm, Serpentine Sackler Gallery, London. ON AIR: Sunday 18 October, midnight –12pm, Serpentine Radio

    U is for Ufan

    A sublime show of minimalist paintings by Lee Ufan, one of Asia’s foremost contemporary artists, is on view at Pace, a commercial gallery situated in the RA’s Burlington Gardens building. The Korean-born painter and sculptor was a key figure in the avant-garde movement Mono-ha, in which representation was set aside for restrained abstraction that allowed a renewed focus on materials. Looking at his work is like dipping into cool water.
    Lee Ufan: From Point, From Line, From Wind, Pace Gallery, London, until 31 October

    V is for Villagio

    One of the innovations of last year’s Frieze London was Frieze Live – performance work (or “live art”) being presented by galleries either on stands or throughout the fair tent. VILLAGIO (2015) is one of this year’s performances, presented daily in the Frieze Auditorium. Conceived by the young Floridian artist-duo Justin Rancourt and Chuck Yatsuk, it takes the form of a property developer’s promotional event for a fictional tropical resort.
    VILLAGIO by Rancourt/Yatsuk, Kate Werble Gallery (Stand L2). “Live”: The Auditorium at Frieze London, Wednesday 14 – Saturday 17 October

  • W is for Weiwei

    If this is Frieze Week, the RA experienced what could be called “Weiwei week” at the end of September, when the celebrated Chinese artist opened his retrospective at the Academy with a variety of events for press, Friends of the RA, patrons and the public. Some special events related to the Ai Weiwei exhibition coincide with the Frieze Week, including a performance on Thursday by artist Liam Geary Baulch in response to Weiwei’s blog posts.
    Ai Weiwei, Royal Academy of Arts, London, until 13 December

    X is for Xu

    Frieze London reflects the real globalisation of the art world. You’re just as likely to see a Middle Eastern installation artist on view in an American gallery’s stand as a German painter on show with an Asian exhibitor. Almine Rech gallery – which has spaces in Paris and Brussels – presents the Chinese artist Xu Qu, an artist who produces kaleidoscopic representations of mazes in acrylics, echoing the labyrinthine structures of the information age.
    Almine Rech Gallery, Stand A8, Frieze London, Wednesday 14 – Saturday 17 October

    Y is for young galleries

    As a way of bringing the latest developments in art to its audiences, Frieze London has a section called Focus, dedicated to presenting recently established gallery spaces which, on the whole, present more young and emerging artists than their older peers. This year’s Focus highlights will include a presentation of ceramicist Jesse Wine (at Limoncello) and floor-based installation by fellow British artist Samara Scott (The Sunday Painter).
    Limoncello Gallery, Stand H24, Focus, Frieze London, Wednesday 14 – Saturday 17 October; The Sunday Painter: Leo Fitzmaurice, Samara Scott, Stand H31, Focus Frieze London, Wednesday 14 – Saturday 17 October

    Z is for Zabludowicz Collection

    The art scene in London is a mixture of thriving public and private spaces, and some, like the Zabludowicz Collection – whose project space is a former Methodist Chapel in Kentish Town – that almost bridge the two. A philanthropic organisation founded by Anita and Poju Zabludowicz, it acquires and presents contemporary art to the public, including solo exhibitions of up-and-coming artists, often before their representation by a commercial gallery, or their display by publicly funded spaces. During Frieze Week, Canadian artist Jon Rafman stages his first major UK solo show, which includes Sticky Drama (2015), a wildly imaginative short film featuring over 35 young Londoners and inspired by computer gaming culture.
    Jon Rafman, Zabludowicz Collection, London, 8 October – 20 December