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Frieze Los Angeles

Moments of Compassion, Connection, and Clarity at Frieze Los Angeles

Last week, the fourth edition of Frieze Los Angeles kicked off at its sprawling new location at the Santa Monica Airport. Throughout the weekend, the fair’s largest iteration yet thrilled an impressive 35,000 art enthusiasts, philanthropists, collectors, and cultural figureheads. Frieze LA united over 120 galleries from 22 countries in a sweeping and inspired presentation. 

Bob Thompson, Bob Thompson, “Stairway to the Stars,” c.1962, at Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, photo by Erica Silverman.

As we approached the entrance to the show, there was an undeniable sense of excitement in the air. Visitors were all smiles and brimming with energy as they made their way inside. Michael Rosenfeld Gallery’s presentation of the late artist Bob Thompson (1937-1966) caught our eye almost immediately. Stairway to the Stars (c.1962) was a sumptuous vision in muted tones of blue, yellow, orange, and cream. Multi-hued human figures stood side-by-side in a mystical line with ease and anticipation, surrounded by abstract shapes and forms that brought to mind a celestial, out-of-this-world destination. 

Installation view of Peter Shire's “Living Room Theater” Installation view of Peter Shire’s “Living Room Theater,” at Jeffrey Deitch, photo by Erica Silverman.

Just around the corner, the vibrant work of artist Martin Boyce shown by The Modern Institute/Toby Webster Ltd was a joy to discover. Made of diverse materials such as steel, and acrylic on aluminum, Future Tense (2021) was a dynamic piece resembling a pastel pink, vintage telephone hung on a wall painted in various shades of blue-green. The ironic artwork evoked a kind of nostalgia, a nod to energetic interior design, and a cinematic sense of time travel. While inside the booth, we were also drawn into Agent Orange (2023), an acrylic painting by artist Adam McEwen. The large-scale, graphic artwork was a pleasing nod to pop art—yellow and black pencils scattered while a red pen took center stage on a coral-buff colored background. The piece had us dreaming of the perfect writing desk, overlooking the cliffs of Malibu of course. 

Jeffrey Deitch. Frieze Los Angeles 2023, photo by James Jackman / CKA, courtesy of Frieze.

We simply couldn’t miss artist Peter Shire’s Living Room Theater inside the booth of Jeffrey Deitch. Immersive, experimental, and rainbow-hued, the abstract sculptures were humorous and dreamlike, bringing up sweet memories of favorite childhood toys and games. Like Candyland for adults, the drawings, ceramics, and furniture on display whisked us away​ to a sunny paradise of intersection, appreciation, and optimism. 

Installation view of Walid Raad/The Atlas Group's Installation view of Walid Raad/The Atlas Group’s “Festival of Gratitude,” at Paula Cooper Gallery, photo by Erica Silverman.

Across the way, an array of colorful, decadent birthday cake imagery caught our eye. The dynamic show by Paula Cooper Gallery was a donation to The Atlas Group in 2003 by 17-year-old budding photographer Walid Raad, who was asked by his cousin, the owner of a Beiruti patisserie, to take photos of cakes. The artist soon came to realize he was documenting the celebratory desserts of Lebanon’s most prominent politicians, such as Omar Karami and Walid Jumblatt. The artworks are a vivid juxtaposition and representation of the sweet and the sour, of the ties that bind us and those that tear us apart. 

Jonathan Borofsky, Jonathan Borofsky, “You are Alone Slow Down There is No One to Please but Yourself,” (1975-76), at Paula Cooper Gallery, photo by Erica Silverman.

Wandering within the booth, we came face to face with artist Jonathan Borofsky’s magnificent You are Alone Slow Down There is No One to Please but Yourself (1975-76). The sweeping, horizontal yellow sign was a ray of sunlight carrying a cautionary tale to do exactly that, right here, right now. We simply could not leave the booth without basking for a few minutes in artist Atsuko Tanaka’s acrylic lacquered masterpiece: 77Q-81 (1977-81). Primary colors ebbed and flowed, resisted, connected, launched, and exploded in a thrilling expression of our universe and ourselves. 

Just down the hall, we found ourselves in a peaceful corner with artist Joan Semmel’s Armed (2020), presented by Alexander Gray Associates. The contemplative oil on canvas, rich in shades of brown, green, and cream, was an intimate moment in which figures rested, relaxed, and leaned on one another. 

Ferrari Sheppard, Ferrari Sheppard, “Rosette A. (Large flower painting),” 2022, at MASSIMODECARLO, photo by Erica Silverman.

Across the way, in MASSIMODECARLO’s space, we were overwhelmed by the floral bounty of Ferrari Sheppard’s Rosette A. (Large flower painting) (2022). The larger-than-life bouquet of mixed media on paper was a feast for all of the senses—we could not help but detect the sweetest smell of roses and fresh greenery emanating from the joyful work. On a nearby wall, the artist’s Portal Study (2021-23) was a warm embrace in acrylic, charcoal, and 24k gold on canvas. The awe-inspiring, abstract piece illustrated the poetry of new life, and the unforgettable moments that leave us speechless and eager for more. 

Nan Goldin, Nan Goldin, “Self-portrait on the train, Germany,” 1992 at Matthew Marks Gallery, photo by Erica Silverman.

While in the booth of Matthew Marks Gallery, we were transported by the poignant photography of Nan Goldin. Brian on my bed with bars, NYC (1983) and Self-portrait on the train, Germany (1992) were bittersweet odes to cities, relationships, and life’s fleeting adventures, reminding us to soak in the beauty of all things. We lingered there, immersed in the blues and creams of artist Julien Nguyen’s jewel of contemplation, Nikos in the Bath at Claridge’s (2022). 

Installation view of works by Raymond Pettibon Installation view of works by Raymond Pettibon at Regen Projects, photo by Erica Silverman.

Just before exiting, Regen Projects made a lasting impression with lavish works by artists Raymond Pettibon and Matthew Barney. Pettibon presented an array of compelling drawings which expertly layered influences from history to film noir to punk rock, for a swift and bold take on society’s values, contradictions, and presumptions. Barney’s Recurve, an otherworldly work of graphite on paper, set within a plastic frame, was a vision in tangerine, and a hypnotic window into mystical forces past, present, and future. 

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