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10 brilliant things to do during Frieze Week in London

Frieze Week London 2021: the booths, shows and openings to check out

Haven’t you heard? Frieze is back! Which means so too is the dizzying slew of exhibition openings, private views, dinners, and parties celebrating the biggest week in the art world calendar. Needless to say, after a year-long hiatus, excitement is reaching fever pitch. Dust off your finery and clear your diary, mid October in London will be a nonstop whirlwind of art-fuelled activity. From the standout booths to the exciting new shows everyone’s talking about, here’s our curated edit of the best things to see, do and eat during Frieze Week 2021.

Frieze London & Frieze Masters
Regent’s Park
Frieze London and Frieze Masters Art Fairs start 13-17 October. Here is a curated edit of the best shows to see this Frieze Week 2021
Jean-Michel Basquiat Untitled, 1982. Courtesy Van de Weghe

Anticipation is mounting as the first in-person Frieze fairs held in London since 2019 get set to take over Regent’s Park from 13-17 October. Following on from the success of previous digital editions, there will also be a dedicated edition of Frieze Viewing Room. 

The fairs will welcome some 275 galleries, around the same number as in 2019. Frieze London regulars returning to the event this year include Sadie Coles HQ, Hauser & Wirth, Xavier Hufkens and David Zwirner. At Addis Fine Art, meanwhile, look out for a selection of striking works by Ethiopian artist Merikokeb Berhanu. Inspired by 20th-century Western female artists like Georgia O’Keeffe and Hilma of Klint, Berhanu draws on themes from nature to explore personal emotions and states of mind that cannot be communicated with words. 

Frieze London and Frieze Masters Art Fairs start 13-17 October. Here is a curated edit of the best shows to see this Frieze Week 2021
Merikokeb Berhanu, Untitled, 2021. Courtesy of Addis Fine Art

Of all the things to see at the fair’s Focus section, which is devoted to galleries established in the last 12 years, London-based Arcadia Missa, Edouard Malingue Gallery and Hot Wheels Athens look set to be highlights. But be sure you save time for Unworlding, a new section curated by Cédric Fauq spotlighting a group of international artists whose practice centres around the undoing of the world as we know it. At Editions, which showcases the world’s leading publishers of editioned works and multiples, you’ll encounter breathtaking works by such celebrated contemporary artists as Paula Rego, Georg Baselitz and Frank Bowling. 

Frieze London and Frieze Masters Art Fairs start 13-17 October. Here is a curated edit of the best shows to see this Frieze Week 2021
Waddington Custot Ralph Goings

Across the park at Frieze Masters, you’ll find works spanning six thousand years of art history, from illuminated manuscripts and rare antiquities to Renaissance paintings and works by modern masters like Picasso, Miró and Dalí. New to Frieze Masters this year is Stand Out. Curated by Fitzwilliam director Luke Syson, the section brings together art objects from across the ages that are of exceptional design or are of sculptural or conceptual brilliance. 

Frieze veterans will be pleased to see the return of the fair’s Spotlight section, which focuses on pioneers of avant-garde art from around the world, among them the Paraguan artist Feliciano Centurión and the French-Mexican poet and artist Alice Rahon. In addition to the exhibitor presentations, make sure to check out this year’s Live programme and series of curated talks addressing some of the most relevant conversations in art today.

Frieze London and Frieze Masters Art Fairs start 13-17 October. Here is a curated edit of the best shows to see this Frieze Week 2021
Woody Vasulka, (Daniel) Images from Organizational Models of the Electronic Image Series IV. Courtesy of BERG Contemporary and The Vasulka Estate.

Frieze veterans will be pleased to see the return of the fair’s Spotlight section, which focuses on pioneers of avant-garde art from around the world, among them the Paraguan artist Feliciano Centurión and the French-Mexican poet and artist Alice Rahon. In addition to the exhibitor presentations, make sure to check out this year’s Live programme and series of curated talks addressing some of the most relevant conversations in art today. 

Frieze London and Frieze Masters take place in Regent’s Park in London from 13 — 17 October 2021
frieze.com

Frieze Sculpture
Regent’s Park

As you meander from one fair to the other, you’ll come across some of the most striking sculpture being made today. Curated by Clare Lilley, director of Yorkshire Sculpture Park, the ninth edition of London’s biggest outdoor sculpture exhibition features works by big-name artists and rising stars that tackle themes of displacement, geopolitical power structures and environmental concerns. 

Standout works include Annie Morris’s bright and beautiful Stack 9 (2021) and Rose Wylie’s already much ’grammed monumental pineapple. Also on display is the Serpentine’s Sumayya Vally, Counterspace, marking the first time a public institution has participated in the event. 

Frieze London and Frieze Masters Art Fairs start 13-17 October. Here is a curated edit of the best shows to see this Frieze Week 2021
Frieze Sculpture Park, Regent’s Park, London. Photo by Linda Nylind

There’s something about seeing monumental sculpture al fresco — especially in these uncertain times — that’s as thrilling as it is freeing. ‘As we learn to live with the pandemic and emerge into public spaces,’ says Lilley, ‘Frieze Sculpture 2021 allows people to come together in safety and with pleasure and is a tonic for the mind, body and soul.’ The bonus? It’s free. Hop to it. 

Frieze Sculpture is on view in Regent’s Park until 31 October 2021
frieze.com

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No. 9 Cork Street
Cork Street
Frieze London and Frieze Masters Art Fairs start 13-17 October. Here is a curated edit of the best shows to see this Frieze Week 2021
© Matheson Whiteley

Frieze’s first-ever exhibition space in London will open this October with three ambitious shows from international galleries James Cohan, Commonwealth and Council and Proyectos Ultravioleta. New works by Christopher Myers will hang alongside time-based media, sculpture and installation by artists Danielle Dean, Nikita Gale, P.Staff and EJ Hill. Also on display will be an exhibition by mother-daughter artists Elisabeth Wild and Vivian Suter. Be sure to check out the accompanying series of talks, tours and special events too.

No.9 Cork Street will launch on 7 October
frieze.com

1-54
Somerset House

London’s biggest celebration of contemporary African art returns to Somerset House this October for its ninth (and largest) edition yet. Around 50 galleries from 19 countries will attend the fair, together showcasing the work of more than 150 emerging and established artists working in a wide variety of mediums. 

There are plenty of big-name galleries at this year’s event, including Addis Fine Art, Gallery 1957 and SMO Contemporary Art. Among the fair’s notable first-time exhibitors are Richard Saltoun Gallery, Galerie Atiss Dakar and Paris-based 31 Project. A standout highlight is without a doubt Lakwena Maciver’s site-specific basketball court painting installation for the 1-54 courtyard. Also worth scoping out is the special exhibition curated by Christine Eyene at Christie’s King Street. 

As in previous years, the fair will be accompanied by 1-54 Forum, an extensive programme of artist talks, panels, screenings, performances and readings, which will take place both online and at Somerset House. For those unable to attend the fair IRL, look to 1-54 Online, where you’ll find additional gallery works as well as fair highlights. 

Once you’ve had your 1-54 fill, whizz around We Are History, a new group exhibition at Somerset House tracing the complex relationship between today’s climate crisis and legacies of colonialism. Curated by writer Ekow Eshun, it brings together the works of nine artists with personal connections to countries in the Caribbean, South America and Africa. ‘The artworks in We Are History are lyrical, moving and historically charged,’ says Eshun. ‘They seek to address climate crisis, not directly or didactically, but with a poetry and nuance that expands the visual framework we bring to the subject.’ Prepare to stop and stare. 

1-54 runs at Somerset House from 14—17 October 2021
1-54.com

Post-Frieze gallery hop
Various locations across Mayfair

Of all the gallery exhibitions opening to coincide with Frieze London, these three are among our favourites. 

First up is David Zwirner’s brilliant exhibition of work by American artist Noah Davis. Recalling work by Peter Doig and Marlene Dumas, Davis’s psychological figurative paintings combine gestural brushwork with surrealist or uncanny imagery. ‘Painting does something to your soul that nothing else can,’ Davis once said. ‘It’s visceral and immediate and is always readdressed in new ways that keep it relevant’. 

Then, head down to Gazelli Art House, where you’ll find two dozen new works by British-born, Los Angeles-based artist Derek Boshier. Inspired by classical folktales and Korean pop music, Boshier’s vibrant acrylic paintings and black and white drawings on paper offer a critical and playful critique on contemporary culture. 

Before settling down to a well-earned drink, take yourself to Hauser & Wirth’s major George Condo exhibition. Spanning both of the gallery’s London spaces, Ideals of the Unfound Truth features new large-scale paintings and drawings depicting various psychological states in Condo’s signature abstract web. 

Noah Davis is on view at David Zwirner in Grafton Street from 8 October — 17 November.
davidzwirner.com

Derek Boshier: Icarus and K Pop is on view at Gazelli Art House from 7 October — 14 November 2021.
gazelliarthouse.com

George Condo. Ideals of the Unfound Truth is on view at Hauser & Wirth London from 13 October — 23 December 2021.
hauserwirth.com

Noguchi
Barbican Centre
Frieze London and Frieze Masters Art Fairs start 13-17 October. Here is a curated edit of the best shows to see this Frieze Week 2021
Portrait of Isamu Noguchi, American sculptor, the latter's special assistant planner, July 4, 1947 in New York City. Photo by Arnold Newman Properties/Getty Images

There hasn’t been a Noguchi show in Europe for more than 20 years, but the Barbican has more than made up for it with this solo exhibition featuring work from across the artist’s six-decade career. Bringing together over 150 pieces, it positions Noguchi as one of the most experimental and pioneering creatives of the 20th century. 

Noguchi’s Akari light sculptures will be shown alongside theatre set designs, archival photographs, architectural models, interlocking sculptures produced during the 1940s and large-scale works from the 1960s, 70s and 80s. The exhibition also includes an outstanding selection of his ceramics made in post-war Japan, which showcase his innovative approach to traditional craft techniques.

 This long-overdue show is a fitting celebration of a man who believed sculpture could be ‘a vital force in our everyday life’ and saw art ‘as something which teaches human beings how to become more human.’ Put simply, it’s not to be missed. 

Noguchi runs at the Barbican Centre in London from 30 September 2021 — 9 January 2022.
barbican.org.uk

Studio Voltaire
Clapham

Leading not-for-profit arts organisation Studio Voltaire reopens this October following a £2.8 million renovation with the first solo exhibition of William Scott outside of the USA. For over 30 years, the Californian artist has tackled contemporary issues such as citizenship, community and cultural memory in his paintings and portraits of predominantly black figures. Also on show will be a series of new permanent commissions by artists Anthea Hamilton, Joanne Tatham and Tom O’Sullivan. 

Studio Voltaire will reopen on Friday 15 October 2021
studiovoltaire.org

Hyundai Commission: Anicka Yi
Tate Modern

Since its opening in 2000, Tate’s Turbine Hall has showcased some of the biggest names in contemporary art including Olafur Eliasson, Ai Weiwei and Kara Walker. This prestigious annual commission gives artists the rare opportunity to create work specifically for the cavernous space. 

This year is the turn of New York-based conceptual artist Anicka Yi, whose work explores the present in relation to our shared future. Yi’s work tends to engage all of the senses and be made from unorthodox materials (think tempura batter and kombucha leather), so we can’t wait to see what’s in store for her most daring project to date. As ever, details of the commission are still tightly under wraps, so keep your eyes peeled. 

Hyundai Commission: Anicka Yi will be on view at Tate Modern from 12 October 2021 – 16 January 2022.
tate.org.uk

Bold Black British
Christie’s London
Frieze London and Frieze Masters Art Fairs start 13-17 October. Here is a curated edit of the best shows to see this Frieze Week 2021
Portrait of Aindrea Emelife, curator of Bold Black British at Christie’s, London

Christie’s King Street is turning over some of its galleries to an exhibition of Black British art, curated by Nigerian-British writer and curator Aindrea Emelife. Coinciding with Frieze London as well as Black History Month in the UK, the show spotlights 27 artists working across disciplines who have shaped the creative landscape over the past 40 years. 

‘The widespread absence of Black artists from British art history is symptomatic of an even wider absence in history,’ says Emelife. ‘We must recover these forgotten or erased histories, reclaim them, celebrate them and immerse ourselves in a rich cultural legacy that has always been there.’ 

Among the big-name artists on display are Ibrahim El-Salahi, the celebrated African Modernist Ben Enwonwu and Samson Kambalu, who recently won the fourth plinth commission. Other names for your radar include Marlene Smith and Sonia Boyce, who will represent the UK at the Venice Biennale next year. Also featured in the show are works by recent art school graduates Emily Moore and Olivia Sterling. 

Bold Black British runs at Christie’s London from 1 — 21 October 2021.
christies.com

Finally, where to eat, drink and sleep
Frieze London and Frieze Masters Art Fairs start 13-17 October. Here is a curated edit of the best shows to see this Frieze Week 2021
Kusama Art Afternoon Tea at the Rosewood London © Patricia Niven

For an artful foodie treat, scoot along to the Rosewood for its Kusama-inspired afternoon tea. Expect unique Japanese flavours combined with lots of delicious French pastry and patisserie. The star of the show is without a doubt the cherry blossom cheesecake tartlet. But make sure to save room for the delightful peach and Jasmin macaroon and freshly baked scone with homemade strawberry and elderflower jam.

Frieze London and Frieze Masters Art Fairs start 13-17 October. Here is a curated edit of the best shows to see this Frieze Week 2021
The Painter's Room at Claridge's

As dusk falls, swing by Claridge’s for a peek at its recently opened Art Deco bar, serving delicious cocktails inspired by the culture, art and design of Europe. Conceived by interior designer Bryan O’Sullivan of Berkeley bar and terrace fame, the Painter’s Room boasts a one-off Annie Morris installation which runs across the entire bar, a dazzling skylight in peach and cream coloured glass and pale pink onyx every which way you look. The Saint Remy — a variation on a martini — inspired by Van Gogh’s Almond Blossom comes highly recommended. 

Frieze London and Frieze Masters Art Fairs start 13-17 October. Here is a curated edit of the best shows to see this Frieze Week 2021
Beaverbrook Studio Suite

And so to bed. Check into the freshly opened Beaverbrook Townhouse on Sloane Street for a digestif and a heavenly night’s sleep. We promise you won’t regret it. 

rosewoodhotels.com

claridges.co.uk

beaverbrooktownhouse.co.uk

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