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Love and (Art) Lust at Frieze

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This year’s Frieze New York made me feel like a man who has preferred blondes for decades only to encounter, in one afternoon, a handful of brunettes he’d like to take home.

I’ve always been a paintings person, but this weekend I found myself deeply attracted to works with strong sculptural components – many of them very recent.


Here’s what I was crushing on.

My heart first quickened at the sight Jim Lambie’s new Metal Box (Oslo) (2014), shown by Toby Webster’s London-based gallery The Modern Institute. Lambie’s fun house of a piece is a shiny, sculpted pile of a half-dozen sheets of aluminum and polished steel, gilded at the corners with colorful household paint.


Then there was Valeska Soares’ natural linen canvas with antique book jackets affixed to it. The piece, from her series “Bindings” (2014), posits an exquisitely satisfying composition.

In a booth shared by Seoul’s Kukje Gallery and New York’s Tina Kim Gallery, I came upon Kyungah Ham’s 2014 piece that makes use of machine embroidery on cotton and collected Internet world news. Called Abstract Weave – Morris Louis Untitled, 1960 01, it’s an explicit tribute to the color field painter.  Each strip of color is emblazoned with news-ticker in various languages. The sculptural element is in the tumble of threads that hang down à la artist Ghada Amer (who has several works in nearby booths as well). The work held a lot of mystery; I found myself wanting to know more.

Hammers and steel

Over at New Yorker Marianne Boesky’s booth, a trio of three new and arresting works by Donald Moffett had drawn a crowd of ardent admirers. His complexly titled works on linen have thick, wooden panels of support, all of which he has bored through to create large, Swiss-cheese holes. Around these lacunae, Moffett has found a way to ply grey and white oil paint to appear as tactile as squirts of silicone (and apparently, I wasn’t the first of the day’s visitors to want to cop a feel). Under Moffett’s deft touch, these sensual works suggest the movement of a sea anemone.

Alison Elizabeth Taylor’s 2014 piece Conselyea St. at James Cohan Gallery is another wood-based work. In a flip on my theme here, that piece is actually a marquetry sculpture of gnarly wood veneer and shellac that appears to be a painting in rich browns and grays.

30 x 30 x 30 cm

At both Boesky’s booth and at Chicago’s Shane Campbell Gallery, I found Anthony Pearson’s subdued, monochromatic paintings with deeply patterned textures. Pearson’s pieces looked like my “type,” being smallish all-black and all-white canvases that recall the confident restraint of certain 20th-century masters of abstraction. In fact, they were etched plaster: sculptures.

It’s hard to believe that Canadian Sasha Pierce’s paintings from her recent series “Tessellations” are not woven. Their sculptural sensibility stems from the multidimentionsality of their geometrically tilting shapes and planes. As noted by Jessica Bradley Gallery‘s description, her works evoke the visual qualities of floor tiling, quilting, and digital 3-D rendering.

Courtesy of the artist and Rampa Istanbul

At Massimo De Carlo Gallery, artist Paola Pivi’s has crowded her small canvases with cascades of white, black, or pink pearls – all real ones, I was told. The “pearl paintings,” as she calls them, extrude nearly a foot from the wall and tempt the hand.

By day’s end, as rainstorms outside raged, I found myself seduced by some simply sensational sculptures: Cornelia Parker’s crushed, silver-plated horns hanging from metal wire at London’s Frith Street Gallery; Lin Tianmiao’s  silk thread and stainless steel still-life at Galerie Lelong; Turk Vahap Avşar’s hammer-sphere at Istanbul-based gallery Rampa; and finally Hoda Tawakol’s soft fabric sculptures, most especially her crazy-compelling, hot pink falconry hood at the Beirut-based Galerie Sfeir-Semler.

Had I but enough time – I’d have taken each and every one home. Oh right, and money.





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Kelly Wearstler




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