© David Owens/The Art Newspaper

Frieze London 2018

In pictures: six budding stars at Frieze London

The Focus section for younger galleries and artists is always the most dynamic element of the fair

Focus is the section in Frieze London where 34 youngish galleries—in business for fewer than 12 years—are gathered. Always the most dynamic element of the fair, it benefits from the fact that there are no vast stands, so a sense of disparate visual languages jostling for attention lends it an invigorating energy. Here, we select six young or emerging artists in this year’s section.

Cécile B. Evans (born 1983), Galerie Emanuel Layr
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Cécile B. Evans (born 1983), Galerie Emanuel Layr: In the past two years, Cécile B. Evans has been creating something of an opus: a three-part video installation based on the concept of a television series focusing on a Modernist social housing estate and its architect, Amos. The films and related sculptures are an allegory for networked systems: like Modernist utopian architecture, their ideals are complicated by real-world behaviour. The sculptures are derived from the sets and props in the films, including Amos’s desk and bookshelf and a Japanese forest, in which the architect’s hands emerge from the ground. Amid the sculpture are two screens featuring looped animation tests from episode three of Amos’ World.

Bendt Eyckermans (born 1994), Carlos Ishikawa
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Bendt Eyckermans (born 1994), Carlos Ishikawa: This 24-year-old Belgian painter plucks images from his memory, reconstructing them in a strange hybrid of realism and Expressionism. His works are filled with compositional oddities and suspense. A figure in Another Kiss (2018) is mostly off-canvas: we see only an arm pressing against a tree trunk and a bare-footed leg, as the figure creeps in and out of the scene, while a black dog snarls. Eyckermans has a curious painterly style: working on thick canvas, he applies the paint in circular marks, and the weave of the surface and undulations in the paint catch the light, lending them a glistening quality.

Athena Papadopoulos (born 1988), Emalin
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Athena Papadopoulos (born 1988), Emalin: The list of materials in the works by the Canadian artist Athena Papadopoulos is eye-opening, but also revealing about her subject matter. Take the work Iago Endometriosis Homicide Suicide (2018): one of several featuring beds displayed on hostess trolleys, it includes media such as glitter, hair dye, false eyelashes, make-up and hairspray. Papadopoulos uses these gendered consumer products alongside food and medical items to explore a “hyperfemininity” in these darkly fantastical creations. On the walls are two wedding dresses, spattered with painterly make-up and containing circular forms somewhere between detritus-filled birds’ nests and grotesquely exaggerated orifices, one held open by gynaecological tools.

Paul Heyer (born 1982), Night Gallery
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Paul Heyer (born 1982), Night Gallery: Heyer’s show at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago earlier this year featured this hanging circle of charred brooms, decorated with bits of iridescent shell to create an absurd model of the universe. The work reflects Heyer’s desire to destabilise the language of form, in ways that evoke Surrealist experiments. “While scientists are getting a better picture of the actual shape of our universe,” he told Interview magazine, “I love the idea of saying: ‘Screw it; let’s just pretend it’s like a giant broom. Or a dog bone. Or a cigarette. Or whatever.’” Heyer has likened the work to “Fantasia meets Magritte meets comedown crafting session”.

Zadie Xa (born 1983), Union Pacific
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Zadie Xa (born 1983), Union Pacific: This is among the most exuberant stands at Frieze London, let alone in the Focus section. Beneath the liveliness, though, is a sense of longing. Xa was born to Korean parents in Vancouver and lives in London, and in the hand-sewn fabric works here, she explores her ancestral past and her present life away from Korea. Xa also reflects on Western perceptions of Asian identity. The fabrics teem with repeated imagery: yin-yang discs, knives and conch shells, each richly symbolic. The shells, for instance, refer to the semi-matriarchal culture of Jeju Island, off South Korea, and Haenyeo female divers, one of whom appears catching an octopus in a video on the stand.

Ana Roldán (born 1977), Instituto de Visión, Bogotá
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Ana Roldán (born 1977), Instituto de Visión, Bogotá: Roldán’s sculptures are largely abstract in appearance, but this cluster of works, despite their disparate materials and forms, derives from a single source: her photographs, called Primeval Forms, of native, prehistoric Mexican plants. Roldán, who is from Mexico but lives in Zürich, has used the images as the basis for twisting neons, vivid blue crystal structures, a ceramic gourd sitting on a bronze branch and a colourful standing form. These sculptures tap into a consistent strain in Latin American Modernism and contemporary art in blurring the boundary between art, design object and architecture.

Appeared in Frieze London dailies , Issue 4, 2018