Frieze Art Fair 2016: The 90s makes a comeback and there’s role play in the loos

6 October 2016

If you visit Regent’s Park over the next few days, the usual squawks and whinnying emanating from London Zoo will be accompanied by animated chirruping and the squeak of air kisses at Frieze Art Fair nearby. As usual, gaggles of well-dressed art aficionados and admirers, collectors, journalists and even the odd celeb or two descend onto Frieze London and Frieze Masters, appearing like peacocks alongside the equally ostentatious artworks.

As ever there’s a fine line between art gallery and art shop at Frieze, as sales desks sit littered with salad boxes, catalogues and laptops next to the displayed works. But eschewing the commercial aspect of the fair aside for now, there’s still a whole load of interesting work on show to get your teeth into. From individual artists to whole gallery spaces and booths, we’ve picked out a few of our highlights from Frieze this year.


Richard Billingham: Ray’s a Laugh, Anthony Reynold. Frieze London

The Nineties

Highlighting our penchant for nostalgia, a new section has been introduced to Frieze London this year which revisits “seminal exhibitions from the 1990s”. Within the section is a replica of Wolfgang Tilmans’ first exhibition at Daniel Buchholz’s gallery from 1993. As you walk through the white door, it instantly feels like the walls of a teenage bedroom as different sized photographs of beautiful people are pinned up sporadically on the walls.

Other works that feature include Richard Billingham’s series of photographs Ray’s a Laugh, which make the ordinary, extraordinary; and Daniel Pflumm’s work from 1990s Berlin which blurs the boundaries between art, electronic music and nightlife.


Julie Verhoeven: Whiskers Between My Legs (still), 2014. Courtesy of the artist

Julie Verhoeven: The Toilet Attendant… Now Wash Your Hands, Frieze Projects

Julie Verhoeven’s installation takes place in the toilets at the far end of the main Frieze tent, where blue and pink carpet leads visitors to their respective cubicles. The piece is part of Frieze Projects, a non-profit programme of artist commissions and inside, litter is strewn across the floor and trolleys overflow with various toilet paraphernalia next to the toilets as 80s power ballads mixed with grotesque but funny toilet sounds act as the soundtrack to the experience.

The artist plays the part of a toilet attendant talking to visitors, making some regret their choice of which toilet to visit. Underlying all the fun is a political and social message, where Julie hopes to “open up space for critical thinking on the invisibility of certain working groups and labour ethics”.


Jean Debuffets: Tour aux récits. Frieze Sculpture Park

Frieze Sculpture Park

For the first time, Frieze Sculpture park will remain open until 8 January 2017. Sitting comfortably between Frieze London and Frieze Masters, it’s the part of the fair everyone can enjoy as it’s free. Curated by Clare Lilley, director of programme at Yorkshire Sculpture Park, 20 works by 20th Century artists is on show.

Among the sculptures on display are modernist artist Jean Dubuffet’s Tour aux récits, a four-metre tall creation with abstract decoration, Joe Dávila’s Joint Effort where modified and untreated igneous rocks are beautifully stacked and Claes Oldenburg’s giant cigarette butt, Fagend Study, that surprisingly doesn’t leave a bad taste in your mouth.


Hauser & Wirth: L’Atelier d’Artistes. Photo by Frieze London, 2016

Hauser & Wirth

Hauser & Wirth’s curated booth L’Atelier d’Artistes jumps on the current trend of staging artist’s studios in museums and galleries. Its bold statement piles together canvases, easels, sculptures, prints, rugs and chairs in the space. The installation creates a contrast with the rest of the fair occupied by sparse, white spaces. In among the hotchpotch of work of this “mystery artist” is the gallery’s own artists and showcases a cornucopia of works from Martin Creed, Louise Bourgeois, Phyllida Barlow, Isa Genzken and others.


Portia Munson: The Pink Project, P.P.O.W. Photo by Frieze London 2016

Portia Munson: The Pink Project, P.P.O.W

Probably the most “Instagrammable” piece of work was Portia Muson’s The Pink Project: Table, part of New York gallery P.P.O.W. The focal point of the booth, Portia’s piece was first exhibited in 1994, and was added to in 2010 to create this parade of pink objects from hairbrushes to dildos and lots of cute toys in between.

Through Portia’s rigorous collecting, the installation explores how capitalism has repeatedly tried to embed the colour pink into the female psyche, no matter how illogical it seems. P.P.O.W’s whole space was an exhibition of feminist art from the 1960s today featuring artists including Betty Tompkins’ delicate but powerful Ersatz Cunt Painting.


Philippe Parreno and Shahzia Sikander, Pilar Corrias. Photo Lorena Muñoz-Alonso

Philippe Parreno and Shahzia Sikander, Pilar Corrias

At London-based gallery Pilar Corrias’ booth it presented just two works, one by Philippe Parreno and the other by Shahzia Sikander. Philippe is the artist behind the latest Turbine Hall installation and his piece Speech Bubbles (Transparent Orange) douses the space in a soothing, tangerine glow. Taking up the back wall of the booth is Shahzia’s work, Singing Suns, a HD animation of undulating orbs with music by Du Yun. When displayed together the two pieces create an enchanting and hypnotic dialogue, which seemingly takes the viewer far away from the oversized tent it’s housed in.

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Rebecca Fulleylove

Rebecca became staff writer at It’s Nice That in March 2016 before leaving the company at the end of 2017. Before joining the company full time she worked with us on a freelance basis many times, as well as stints at Macmillan Publishers, D&AD, Dazed and frieze.

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