May 03 2019

Roundup From Frieze New York 2019

by Mimi Wong

YAYOI KUSAMA’s Narcissus Garden (1966– ), featuring stainless steel spheres, welcomes visitors at the North Entrance of Frieze New York 2019. All photos by Mimi Wong for ArtAsiaPacific unless otherwise stated.

Frieze New York marked its eighth year with an expansive array of new, specially curated presentations. In particular, this year’s programming demonstrated conscientious effort toward providing a platform for diverse and overlooked artists alongside the usual household names. A nod to the fair’s setting on Randall’s Island—which is located across the Harlem River from upper Manhattan—two sections sought to incorporate local culture and history into the otherwise globally focused affair: “Diálogos” commemorated the 50th anniversary of El Museo del Barrio by showcasing Latinx and South American artists, while the New York arts organization Just Above Midtown paid tribute to Black American artists of the 1970s and ’80s.

Among the exhibitors from 26 countries, galleries from Asia boasted a significant presence. First-time participant Tina Keng Gallery (Taipei/Beijing) highlighted the long-running careers of several artists, including Chinese-American painter Zhang Hongtu, who blends Western techniques with Chinese themes. Meanwhile, Taipei’s Chi-Wen Gallery returned to the fair with work by up-and-coming artists, such as Taiwanese photographer Su Misu, known for BDSM-themed documentary works, and London-based Victoria Sin, who explores drag and LGBTQ+ identities in video.

In the Focus sector, galleries that are 15 years old and younger were able to flex their curatorial muscles. Mumbai’s Jhaveri Contemporary considered the “erotic male gaze” in 1930s gelatin silver prints of men’s bodies taken by Lionel Wendt, variations of nudes in watercolor by Ali Kazim and oil by Salman Toor, as well as a suspended, oversized sculpture of a sexual accessory for men by Prem Sahib. Experimenter from Kolkata examined different aspects of the artistic process, spotlighting, for example, Ayesha Sultana’s concern for shapes in pieces like A Study in Movement II (2019), a set of triangular ironworks.

Other portions of the fair were dedicated to solo presentations. For its contribution to Frame, which promoted emerging artists, Shanghai’s Bank featured Yanyan Huang’s calligraphic, abstract ink drawings within a booth entirely outfitted in wallpaper drawn from her work. Over in Spotlight, Dastan’s Basement (Tehran) displayed pencil sketches, as well as watercolor portraits by the late Bijan Saffari, who exemplifies what is meant by an overlooked modern master. He passed away at the age of 86, a week before the fair’s opening.

Here are some highlights from Frieze New York 2019.

SEUNG-TAEK LEE’s painted earthenware (1963/2018) at Seoul-based Gallery Hyundai’s booth.
SEUNG-TAEK LEE’s painted earthenware (1963/2018) at Seoul-based Gallery Hyundai’s booth.

Mimi Wong is a New York desk editor of ArtAsiaPacific.

Frieze New York 2019 runs from May 2 to 5, 2019.

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