Adele's Diary- Frieze New York Week

It’s day 1 of my Frieze week adventures. My excitement and jetlag don’t let me sleep longer than 7am, so I get up, check the weather, and put on an art fair appropriate outfit; a bit business-like but I take the edge off with pair of Nikes. It is something I know well by now; art fairs require comfortable footwear. I go to a nearby place to get breakfast, coffee and prepare for the day. When visiting art metropoles like New York, I always do my homework and plan almost every minute of my day. When feeling caffeinated enough, I grab a cab and head towards Hudson Yards. The cab drops me off right in front of the entrance to The Shed, which hosts the 10th edition of Frieze New York; definitely a more friendly location than Randall Island, where Frieze used to take place pre covid. 

Already at the entrance, I recognise the familiar fair atmosphere; fashionable people chitchatting about art and business. The upper floors show new spaces and emerging talents, and the ground floor hosts established names and blue-chip galleries. This year’s programme seems to embrace diversity and reflect on current issues and values. The galleries bring a fair
number of women artists, from historic feminist works by Louise Bourgeois or Joan Snyder to new works and projects by artists such as Mary Lovelace, Latifa Echakhch, or Kapwani Kiwanga. I especially enjoy Pace gallery’s presentation of Latifa Echakhch’s fresco-like paintings. I saw her solo show of paintings at Pace gallery in London last month, which, along with her presentation at Frieze, also coincides with her representation of Switzerland at the 59th Venice Biennale. Figurative work is not the artist's usual bread and butter, as she is mainly known for her conceptual installations, but I find her painting similarly intriguing, raising a certain level of theatricality and performance. 

Similar to the established section, also new galleries present a good number of women artists. The moment I walk into the booth of Capsule gallery from Shanghai, I fall in love with variously shaped canvases from the Chinese artist Xinyue Yan. Her paintings seem like cut-outs of mellow dreams where reality blends in with fantasy. The moment I start taking pictures and videos, the gallery director approaches me and introduces me to Xinyue Yan, who is sitting next to her. I am so happy to meet the artist, but my smile is hidden behind the face mask. I tell Xinyue how much I love her work, and we have a nice chat about how her paintings explore individuality versus life in a society. She is such a lovely person. 

After another quick run around booths, as I always like to go backwards to ‘recap’ what I’ve seen, I head to the Frieze lounge area for a coffee and content sharing break. After resting my legs, it’s time to move downtown. I’ve scheduled to visit Jeffrey Deitch, who has two galleries in Soho, and both are also currently showing women artists. Their bigger, hangar-like location presents ‘Wonder Women’, curated by Kathy Huang. It’ s a group exhibition of thirty Asian American and diasporic women and non-binary artists who, through their figurative work, respond to self, identity, and wonder. The show is wonderful and powerful.

Some paintings depict the artists’ family and communities they live in; some portray their heroines or relate to mythology and legends. Among my favourite artists are; Lily Wong, Sally J. Han, Nadia Waheed, and Amanda Ba. Just around the corner, the second location of the gallery presents a solo show by the American artist Sasha Gordon. She paints dazzling figurative images that reflect on the themes of self-image, the male gaze, and the notion of exoticization. In this solo show, her caricature-like figures are essentially different versions of herself that reflect various sides of her personality. I am captivated by her use of bright, almost neon colours and the rendering of her figures. They appear as if they jumped out of an animated movie. After snapping some pictures of the gallery space, I decide it’ s time to call it a day and head to meet friends for dinner and drinks. Just when I thought I was done with art for the day, everyone at the dinner table starts asking me about Frieze and all the art I saw today. They say New York is a city that never sleeps. I guess the same goes for art; it just never sleeps.

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