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Frieze London and Frieze Masters: Our Top Picks from the VIP Preview

Frieze London and Frieze Masters: Our Top Picks from the VIP Preview

Frieze Art Fair goes digital for its 2020 London Edition with an elegant program of online events and viewing rooms.


Normally at this time of the year, London’s art world would be doing Frieze Week in a frenzy, flying from tents to events. The annual affair has marked London’s cultural calendar since its inauguration in 2003. Frieze Week’s habitual hustle and bustle encompasses its fairs in Regent’s Park, a string of show openings, and a myriad of events. However, in this year of suspension, most shows have been moved online, with the exception of Frieze Sculpture which has returned to Regent’s Park. While Frieze will be missing its usual crowd of 125,000 visitors, its virtual edition will be satisfying art-hungry audiences this year. 

2020 has been a big reset for most industries, and the art world is no exception. “We need to think outside of the tent,” said Eva Langret, Frieze London’s artistic director. Although the experience of seeing art in the flesh, relishing its colours and textures, and conversing with other enthusiasts can never be replaced, the pandemic has accelerated some positive changes. The art world is now moving towards more sustainable models, price transparency, and inclusivity in its programmes. Women are also dominating this year’s Frieze, with Eva Langret as their new artistic director, and Zoé Whitley as the curator of Possessions, a newly curated section of the fair focused on the theme of spirituality in the art of our time. Below, we have chosen 10 of our favourite works by women artists from this year’s fair.

Hedda Sterne | Van Doren Waxter

Hedda Sterne, Untitled, 1988-1989. 37.99” X 26.02”. 

Freely fluttering between abstract expressionism and surrealism, Sterne was always influenced by her surroundings and drew inspiration from the world around her. In the 1940’s, she painted the motion, architecture, and highspeed of New York. In the 1960’s, she embarked on creating a more quiet and meditative series to echo the emotions felt when enveloped by an expansive landscape. Sterne consistently pushed away from familiar forms, taking her work into new directions. 

Ellen Gallagher | Hauser & Wirth

Ellen Gallagher, Paradise Shift, 2020. 79.53” X 74.02”. Mixed media on canvas. $950,000. Courtesy of the artist and Hauser & Wirth.

Ellen Gallagher’s arresting compositions explore the idea of transformation. Paradise Shift exemplifies the artist’s conceptually complex oeuvre, which at once references the minimalism of Agnes Martin and the expressive capacity of materials such as black ink, umber paint, and clay pigment. Through a process of carving, printing, blotting, bleaching, inscribing, overlaying, and erasing, she creates a beautifully textured topographic surface. Reimagining borders and patching together shifting cultural identities, the work offers a means to reconsider the aesthetic and historical contours of being a woman of colour. 

Mandy El-Sayegh | Lehmann Maupin

Mandy El-Sayegh, Net-grid (Red Event), 2020. 92.52” X 88.58”. Oil and mixed media on linen with silk-screened collaged elements. £20-50k.

In her Net-Grid works, Mandy El-Sayegh embeds images and texts from found source material underneath a grid of lines that cover the surface of the canvas. The Net-Grid works are painted in hues of red, white, and blue to insinuate political interrogations, as well as in flesh-like tones to unveil the challenges we are facing as a collective humanity. The grid structure renders a façade of logical order to cover up the chaotic reality underneath the surface of the canvas.

Helen Frankenthaler | Tristan Hoare / Lyndsey Ingram

Helen Frankenthaler, Geisha, 2003. 38” x 26”. Ukiyo-e woodcut printed in colours. Edition numbered 25 from the edition of 50. £67,725.

Abstract Expressionist painter Helen Frankenthaler was paramount to the male-dominated New York School. She reshaped visual expression with her use of colour and her invention of the soak-stain technique. In Geisha, Frankenthaler exemplifies her mastery over abstraction with her signature painterly forms, and her expressive, sensuous swathes of colour.

France-Lise McGurn | Simon Lee Gallery

France-Lise McGurn, The Sun, 2020. 70.87” X 70.87”. Oil on canvas. Sold. 

The figures in France-Lise McGurn’s canvases are born of her reverie. In The Sun, a female figure dives across the canvas, her back arched in ecstasy. The painting’s blushes of pink and hues of sunset colours engulf the viewer in an intimate, immersive, and hedonistic experience. 

Buhlebezwe Siwani | Madragoa

Buhlebezwe Siwani, Inkanyamba, 2020. 59.06” X 59.06”. Green soap, golden pigment, resin on textile.  €6,500.

Featured in this year’s Possessions, Buhlebezwe Siwani is a spiritual healer and artist who lives and works between Cape Town and Amsterdam. Her transcendent works explore her personal relationship with Christianity and African spirituality. Her paintings also interrogate the patriarchal framing of the black female body and black female experience within the South African context.

See Also

Cecily Brown | Thomas Dane Gallery 

Cecily Brown, The Cutter, 2018-2020. 29.02” x 22.99”. Oil on linen. Sold.

Cecily Brown’s constellation of swirls blends into expressive abstraction in The Cutter, erasing the distinctions between figure and ground, background and foreground. Her ribboning brushstrokes masterfully weave the flesh of her figures into the foliage of her landscape, flooding the picture plane with dynamic lyricism and energy. 

Aileen Murphy | Amanda Wilkinson Gallery

Aileen Murphy, Slippy Stomping, Chomping, 2020. 78.74” X 62.99”. Oil on canvas. €9,000.

With previous training in dance and ballet, Aileen Murphy has natural mastery over her large canvases. Her swaths of vibrant colours reveal her hand’s gestural dance across the canvas. Her figures playfully oscillate between the layers of her paintings, at once revealing and concealing themselves to the viewer. In Slippery Stomping, Aileen explores the role of the mouth as a vessel to ingest liquid, quench thirst, and fulfill desires.

Bridget Riley | Archeus Post-Modern / Schacky Art

Bridget Riley, Untitled [blue], 1978. 26.73” x 37.48’’. Screenprint in colours on wove paper. £15,000.

Bridget Riley’s paintings produce an optical phenomenon that render them alive. Her psychedelic patterns seem to pulsate and breathe with you. Her rhythm of colour and geometric structures—whether in the form of waves or diagonals—combine to create an undeniably tangible sensation in the viewer. 

Sabine Moritz | Marian Goodman Gallery

Sabine Moritz, Rosa I, 2020. 11.65” X 16.54”. Crayon, Oil on paper. Sold.

Inspired by her dreams and memories, Sabine Moritz’s paintings create moments suspended in time. Moritz frequently draws inspiration from her personal memory, documentary images, and her surroundings. For Moritz, painting the emotions from her memories is an attempt to freeze a moment in time to counteract the persistence of fading memories.

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