Frieze, the exhibition that sets the London art scene on fire once a year, is tucked away in the super smart Regent’s Park area of the capital. It’s not the easiest place to get to but the effort is worth it. Here in Frieze favourites from the cutting edge we feature the paintings we’d hang on our Scandi walls – our Frieze favourites…
The exhibition is so vast you lose yourself, and the quirkiness of some of the pieces play tricks with your mind: Is that a fire escape or is it a work of art? Turned out it was in fact a real fire escape…
Frieze Favourites: the painting by none other than Jean-Michel Basquait
But here’s a painting that really caught my eye, an untitled piece which, on closer inspection, turned out to be by none other than Jean-Michel Basquiat. I’m partial to paintings with images and words, something to please and provoke…
Basquiat’s paintings are wild and busy and colourful – they pop on the cool, calm, light Nordic wall. Our post Frieze Favourites from the cutting edge also includes old well-known artists…
Superstar names include Andy Warhol
Frieze London has two major sections – Frieze for contemporary art and future stars, and Frieze Masters which shows modern pieces from the 20th Century and older. Here you’ll find superstar names like Basquiat and his mentor Andy Warhol.
All the big names are there, but I was looking for pieces I’d like for my own Scandi minimalist home. Luckily the famously white walls that characterise the northern look and vibe is tailor made for showing off works of art.
Frieze vs Frieze Masters – how the two shows differ
Frieze is split in two marquees. Frieze Masters shows blockbuster galleries selling multi-million dollar paintings and sculptures by star artists. Here you’ll find the Picassos, the Auerbachs, Andy Warhols and Basquiat. It’s lovely. And it presents a wonderful chance to see the most beautiful works of art in the world – like a travelling museum.
Frieze is different. Same size but packed with works by contemporary artists – it’s a whole lot more fun: Avant garde, thought provoking, in-your-face works that after a couple of hours leave you questioning your own sanity. It’s what art is meant to do…
Frieze Favourites from the cutting edge – the vibe
The atmosphere at Frieze contemporary is more vibrant and aggressive than at the Frieze Masters – visitors appear younger, dress creatively (lots of punky outfits and make up) and there’s a vibe that this is the place to talent spot, shop and invest.
The restaurants and bars are busier too and and noise level is higher. Frieze sets the agenda and generates the headlines. It’s the place to be for those seeking inspiration and entertainment!
The Scandi corner – Vilhem Hammershøi
Alas, one painting above all drew me in. Incidentally, at Frieze Masters. It was one of those ahhh moments, a painting that one just “gets”.
The painting hung in a prominent place – by the corridor and easy to spot as you breeze past the stands. It was at Agnews gallery, one of London’s leading galleries, so it had to be special…. And it was: Den Hvide Dør…The White Door, by Danish painter Vilhelm Hammershøi (1864-1916).
Another painting drew me in. I’m always looking for simple still lives (amidst the exciting, thought provoking canvasses) and here’s one by Ll Shan, unnamed oil on canvas. Loving the child-like motif, but it’s a beautiful painting in the old fashioned sense.
Frieze Favourites from the cutting edge: paintings that either pop or blend…
I’ve gone for paintings that either pop or blend. First up, those that pop, and the first one has serious oomph: Santa Anita Session by Paul McCarthy. On closer inspection there are a couple of characters we’d all recognise: comedy and tragedy.
I love the balance and its childlike quality. The combination of colours, balance, humour as well as a serious message mix tantallisingly.
How about some pop art? Mona Lisa worshippers look away now…. Keith Haring has produced a set of 10 graffiti-like screen prints (two rows of five above eachother) featuring images of Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece.
The prints show different treatments of Mona Lisa, each is nearly 1m square. This one, below, is my favourite, but it’s a set that sells at £225,000.
Another favourite artist is Howard Hodgkin. What beautiful colours! And how he makes the most of it by painting on the frame too. His block colours are trademark and his paintings are amongst those one can spot a mile away.
This oil on wood hangs in the Frieze Masters sections alongside other 20th Century classic artists. And this painting below is one of his last paintings dating from 2017.
Paintings that blend with traditional Scandi minimalist style
But here are some of the more traditional Scandi style paintings. They add to the calm and peace of the particular Nordic look and lifestyle. The first piece is striking in its simplicity: a still life on canvas by Rodrigo Moynihan.
Below is a popper that also manages to blend in with the Scandi look, Open and Here by Torkwase Dyson: There is no colour but the dark and light contrast slides almost unnoticed into the Danish home…