Oct 04 2019

Roundup From Frieze London 2019

by Cleo Roberts

SHEZAD DAWOOD’s University of NonDualism (2019) at Frieze Live. Choreography by Adrienne Hart / Neon Dance; performed by Pepa Ubera and Devaraj Thimmaiah; score by patten; costumes by Priya Ahluwalia / Ahluwalia Studio; produced by Miranda Sharp and Sara Thorsen Fredborg for Ubik Productions; commissioned by Diana Campbell Betancourt; supported by the Bagri Foundation. Courtesy the artist.

Frieze London 2019 was the most international edition yet, with more than 160 gallery participants from 35 countries, including many first-time participants from Asia. Silverlens (Manila), 1335Mabini (Manila), and Blindspot Gallery (Hong Kong) made their debuts in the “Woven” section, curated by Cosmin Costinas from Hong Kong’s Para Site. The thematic area, initiated last year, turned the fair’s attention to textiles, showcasing eight artists who deploy material, in part, to face the legacies of imperialism. This worked well for 1335Mabini, whose solo presentation of multimedia artist Cian Dayrit’s conceptually and visually loaded tapestries were well on their way to selling out by the end of the first day. A few booths away, Jhaveri Contemporary’s (Mumbai) display of textile artist Monika Correa’s monochromatic wall hangings emphasized their elegance and stature. A reflection of Correa’s finesse and aptitude for innovative loom work, the threads are left to free themselves from the warp and weft. 

Elsewhere, the growing interest in weave and embroidery continued. At Kukje Gallery (Seoul/Busan), multimedia artist Kyungah Ham’s What you see is the unseen / Chandeliers for Five Cities SK 03-02 (2018) defies expectation as well as political regulations; immaculately hand-embroidered in North Korea, the work was imbued with “tension, anxiety, censorship, ideology,” as noted in the wall text. At Gallery Baton (Seoul), intricate needlework could also be seen in Koh San Keum’s braille-like works, where excerpts from Hermann Hesse’s poetry were stitched onto silk and paper along with small pearls.

Frieze Live and the Frieze Artist Award also made a decisive look toward Asia. Diana Campbell Betancourt, curated the display of the Award winner Himali Singh Soin, in addition to commissioning performances and time-based works from multimedia artist Shezad Dawood and multidisciplinary artist Khvay Samnang among others for Live 2019. These Live pieces were activated at various locations and times across the fair. Four of Dawood’s textile collages set the stage for his University of NonDualism, an ambitious collaboration with fashion designer Priya Ahluwalia and choreographer Adrienne Hart. The subtle dance performance, embedded in the heterogeneous modernist architecture of Muzharul Islam, provided respite from the teeming crowds. For a fair that seems to grow relentlessly year on year, it was perhaps painter and performance artist Tang Dixin’s interactive biomedical installation at Aike Gallery (Shanghai) that struck a chord with its foreboding slogan, “Rest is the Best Way of Revolution.” 

SHEZAD DAWOOD, Institute of Fine Arts, 2019, vintage textile collage and acrylic, at Frieze Live. All photos by Cleo Roberts for ArtAsiaPacific unless otherwise indicated.
SHEZAD DAWOOD, Institute of Fine Arts, 2019, vintage textile collage and acrylic, at Frieze Live. All photos by Cleo Roberts for ArtAsiaPacific unless otherwise indicated.

Frieze London takes place at Regent’s Park until October 6, 2019.

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