by Katie Hector
Spring has arrived, and Frieze New York assumes its annual presentation under the iconic white tent on Randall’s Island. As per usual, Frieze presents an opportunity for galleries to expose their pre-eminent artists to a diverse audience comprised of collectors, institutions, and art enthusiasts alike, who flock from all over the world to attend the five-day event. This year’s fair is host to a distinct collection of galleries displaying impressive rosters of established artists as well as newcomers on the rise. We decided to turn our attention away from spectacle-producing options in order to compile our list of Top Presentations at this year’s iteration, focusing our attention instead on the innovators and risk-takers on view at this year’s fair.
Casey Kaplan: Matthew Ronay
The enigmatic sculptures of Matthew Ronay displayed on pristine white pedestals at the Frieze Casey Kaplan booth entice visitors to take a closer look. Executed in a spectrum of jewel-toned hues, and various mediums and surfaces, the intricate components of Ronay’s medium-sized sculptures transform into living, breathing extraterrestrial fauna. In contrast to Ronay’s previous monochrome environmental installation to give context to the sculptures, this pair down approach allows each sculpture to be considered as an individual unto itself.
Koenig and Clinton: Tony Marsh – Anoka Faruqee & David Driscoll
A pairing of Tony Marsh’s ceramics vessels and Anoka Faruqee & David Driscoll’s optical captivating paintings marks an ode to the formal qualities of surface, color, and materiality at the Koenig and Clinton presentation. Organic and evocative, the surfaces of Marsh’s thirteen ceramic vessels give the impression of minerals, lichens, mold, calcium deposits and oxidized samples sourced directly from the natural world. While the distinct color combinations and layered patterns of Anoka Faruqee & David Driscoll’s paintings speak to vision, perception, and new technologies. Koenig & Clinton aims to give their fair-going audience an opportunity to indulge in the optically exciting and technically precise works of Marsh, Faruqee, and Driscoll.
Bridget Donahue: Lisa Alvarado
Bridget Donahue’s installation is solely dedicated to the work of artist and musician Lisa Alvarado who’s bold tapestry-like paintings, totemic floor objects, and sound installation permeate the space. Before these brightly-colored works are installed upon the white walls of a gallery or fair booth, they first grace the stage serving as backdrops for Alvarado’s band, Natural Information Society. Upon inspecting the rhythmic brushstrokes, tassels, and fringe of Alvarado’s work one slowly becomes aware of a low buzzing noise which soon evolves into a drone, and subsequently a purr. Discrete speakers placed along the parameter of the booth emit ambient sound and alludes to Alvarado’s holistic approach to art making. Alvarado personifies an artist in the process of manifesting her own mythology. By utilizing a compelling mix of image, object, and sound Alvarado creates an experience which invites viewers into her practice, lifestyle, and philosophy.
Hutchinson Modern: Freddy Rodriguez
Hutchinson Modern dedicates their booth to championing the work of Dominican-born, New York-based artist Freddy Rodriguez. A series of eight paintings on canvas, executed since the early 1970’s, works on view shine a light on Rodriguez’s long-spanning career and unwavering practice. Vibrant geometric forms and graphic lines carve up the picture plane and convert each canvas into a balanced compositional code. Founder of Hutchinson Modern, Isabella Hutchinson, enjoys a well-deserved reputation as a trailblazer for Latin American art and has made a career privately advising and expanding the contemporary market for works such as Rodriguez’s.
Galerie Lelong & Co.: Various Artists
Galerie Lelong’s bifurcated booth boasts the breadth of their artist roster and offers fair-goes two flavors of contemporary art. Vibrant and playful meets socially poignant as Sarah Cain’s chromatic paintings are displayed parallel to a collection of work by Alfredo Jaar, Barthélémy Toguo, and Ana Mendieta. Perhaps conscious of the fair’s draw, Galerie Lelong & Co. cast a wide net ensuring there is something which will appeal to a wide spectrum of sensibilities. The dichotomous nature of the booth allows Cain’s experimental paintings and Jaar’s neon text, Toguo’s sculpture, and Mendieta’s photographs to effectively contrast yet highlight one another.
Half Gallery: Vaughn Spann
Half Gallery’s booth exhibits the imaginative and impactful work of Vaughn Spann, whose five large-scale paintings on canvas commandeer the space and represent Spann’s preoccupation with emblematic imagery. At first, the collection of paintings appear to created by two different artists. Two uncanny oil paintings represent portraits of women, while three abstract paintings of pictographic symbols, “X”s and rainbows are presented side-by-side. These disparate approaches to image-making are in actuality couched within the same conceptual impetus. Spann, who graduated from Yale in 2018, aims to describe the African-American experience by creating images that are politically inspired, with references to social codes. This selection of work emphasizes Spann’s ability to seize current events and historical precedent as relevant subject matter in order to produce paintings that are timely cultural and sociopolitical observations.
Various Small Fires (VSF): Diedrick Brackens
Diedrick Bracken’s textiles on view at the Various Small Fires booth address notable trailblazers of lore, and hearken to the true identity of the iconic American Cowboy. This body of work expresses the idealization of the American “wild West” during the late 19th century, post-Civil War era, wherein the profession of cowhand was one of few paid professions available to African-Americans. Utilizing a system of woven algorithms, Bracken generates a series of double-sided textiles that incorporate his silhouetted body merging and interacting with that of a mustang, posed in mid-stride. Bracken employs these icons in order to investigate stereotypes, tradition, and veiled histories through the manipulated woven surfaces of his textiles.