Fresh out of New York Art Week, the only fitting follow-up for the city’s art scene could be yet another whirlwind of fairs, openings, auctions and events—and the return of the Frieze New York promises all in abundance this week.
The main act is Frieze New York (18-22 May), with its 65-exhibitor decennial edition at The Shed. The posh Londoner’s program this year is centred around giving back to the city’s cultural mosaic through collaborations with lauded nonprofits such as Artists Space, Printed Matter, Electronic Arts Intermix and AIR Gallery. “We have almost same number of galleries with last year, but the important element this year is that we are able to thread ourselves through the city,” says Christine Messineo, the new director of Frieze’s Los Angeles and New York fairs.
She points out AIR Gallery’s partnership with National Women’s Liberation for a project about the current attack on women’s freedom to make decisions about their own bodies. How To Perform an Abortion is an educational platform and exhibition that includes works by architect Kadambari Baxi and artists Maureen Connor and Landon Newton about reproductive rights, in line with AIR’s historic role as a champion of feminist art and activism.
In addition to exhibitions and performances at partner non-profits, Tom Burr’s eight-location project Eight Renovations: A constellation of sites across Manhattan (1997) is being revived with the addition of a ninth renovation at the Shed itself. A love song to the city’s continual transformation—highlighting shape-shifting or disappearing cultural and natural sites such as Central Park’s Ramble, a haven for birds and cruising—the poetic texts on pasted on construction site boards memorialise the fleeting intersections at each site.
After eight editions on Randall’s Island, Frieze moved its New York fair to The Shed last year with a socially-distanced test run. At this year’s bigger outing, art will turn heads, pull smart phones and poke wallets. The parade of blue-chip works from New York and around the globe includes Pace Gallery’s solo representation of fresco paintings by Latifa Echakhch, concurrent to the Moroccan-born artist’s representation of Switzerland in the ongoing Venice Biennale. Another solo stand by a New York gallery is James Cohan with its display of hypnotic color-dense paintings by Los Angeles-based Eamon Ore-Giron, whose Infinite Regress series blends gold hues on raw brown linen to tap abstraction’s transcendental potential beneath.
A sense of psychedelia also lingers in David Lewis’s group show stand with minimalist yet sensual floral paintings by Greg Parma Smith, Lynn Randolph’s gory figurations with mythological bodies fighting brutal octopi and Claire Lehmann’s demure dreamscapes with haunting bodies and creeping everyday objects. Delhi-based artist Bharti Kher’s 18ft tall bronze sculpture of a deity will alight in Central Park this fall with Public Art Fund, but for now, visit Perrotin’s stand for her bindi-covered smashed mirror wall sculpture.
Other international participants such as Thaddaeus Ropac, White Cube, Sadie Coles HQ, Gallery Hyundai and kurimanzutto will show their renowned artists’ latest creations, but discovery here is in the fair’s Frame section. Tehran’s Dastan Gallery is showing The Garden of Desolation, an installation of works by Homa Delvaray, who draws on her background in graphic design to deconstruct and reformulate the imposed codes of language, shapes and colours. Pastel-hued paintings of Yan Xinyue at Capsule Shanghai’s stand in the same section capture intricacies of urban womanhood in the details of a teardrop or a haunting nightmare. Between the sales talk, last night’s party and the Ettore Sottsass-designed tables for Carol Bove’s steel sculptures at the David Zwirner stand, the first day’s fatigue can be soothed at Maestro Dobel’s installation, Mexican Golden Age, dedicated to seminal Mexican architect Ricardo Legorreta with contemporary furniture interpretations of his iconic design for Hotel Camino Real in the 1970s—lounge on one of the wicker chairs and sip some tequila.
Energy regained, head uptown for another old-world export, 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair (19-22 May), which also has annual iterations in London and Marrakech. Following several years at Pioneer Works in Brooklyn and one in Lower Manhattan, the fair’s sixth New York edition spreads its 25 stands amid Harlem Parrish’s ornate decor. Looking no further than the neighbourhood’s vast cultural landscape for programming, the fair has partnered with Novella Ford, the associate director of public programs and exhibitions at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, to curate a series of events including a talk with Harlem-born textile artist Dindga McCannon about the historic women artists collective, Where We At Black Women Artists Inc.
The early-20th century church and event space has had many lives, including as a studio for Julie Mehretu and a venue for the Performa performance art biennial. According to the fair’s organiser Touria El Glaoui, the locale is ideally suited to 1-54’s programming.
“Harlem was my initial plan when I first brought the fair to New York, and here we finally are,” she says, adding that her long-term plans include partnering with the soon-to-reopen Studio Museum in Harlem and a VIP collector programme focused on artist studios and organizations around the neighborhood. In addition to six New York galleries, including Fridman Gallery, Harlem’s own Long Gallery and a joint stand between Andrew Kreps and Richard Saltoun galleries, international presenters include Jason Shin from South Korea and Hafez Gallery from Saudi Arabia.
Accra- and London-based Gallery 1957, a staple of 1-54, is dedicating its solo stand to Amsterdam-based Ghanian painter Lord Ohene’s lush figurative paintings of African youth. The recent wave of interest in contemporary African figuration will complement the fair’s in-person return, offering visitors a crisper understanding of artists’ painterly textures. “A few years ago, collectors used to question our prices,” El Glaoui says, “but now, they are jumping onto the opportunities with young African artists.”
Basel-born fair Volta (18-22 May) is returning to New York for its 14th edition, with more than 50 galleries taking over the building at 548 West 22nd street that formerly housed the Dia Art Foundation. The fair occupies a middle-market niche in contrast to Frieze’s emphasis on blue-chip heavyweights, bringing an international selection of galleries from an oft-vulnerable sector of the art market. A swift stroll through the aisles includes stops at Istanbul’s Anna Laudel, which is showing New York-based Turkish photographer Sarp Kerem Yavuz’s images of homoerotic masculine rituals and sculptures by Ardan Özmenoğlu; gallery UG from Tokyo presenting Kunihiko Nohara’s whimsical wood-carved human sculptures and Beirut’s Nadine Fayad Art Gallery, whose presentation is dedicated to the seminal Lebanese painter Raouf Rifaï’s depictions of figures set against turbulent backdrops. Among the local participants, Chelsea-based Daniel Cooney Fine Arts is showing Richard Haines’s romantic pastel paintings and drawings; Leilah Heller Gallery is exhibiting Iranian-Egyptian artist Parinaz Gharagozlou’s surreally transhistorical architectural paintings.
The week’s longest-running fair, the Photography Show (19-22 May), has gotten a location update in its 41st edition, landing at Midtown’s Center415. All 49 participating galleries, representing nine countries, are members of the Association of International Photography Art Dealers (AIPAD), and their presentations span the medium’s various pillars, from portraiture to photojournalism. Michal Chelbin’s piercing shots of Ukrainian youth gazing into the camera in military attire at ClampArt’s stand and Oye Diran’s colourful shot of three Black sitters in 1960s fashion with Atlanta’s Arnika Dawkins Gallery tap into the first category. Howard Greenberg Gallery is showcasing photojournalism in Baldwin Lee’s black-and-white photographs of the American South throughout his 2,000-mile road trip in the 1980s.
The Photography Show will also spill downtown through AIPAD’s collaboration with the International Center of Photography for the annual ICP Photobook Fest at ICP’s new 79 Essex Street location. The two-day event (21-22 May) will see independent photobook publishers and photographers exhibit their latest work.
Frieze’s Messineo sees a parallel between the late 1990s, when Burr first created his citywide art project, and the present moment as the city goes through another transformation coming out of the pandemic.“We are not limited by the physicality of the fair and are able to acknowledge the vibrancy of the city’s cultural landscape with its non-profits and social landmarks,” she adds.