Travel back to Los Angeles with me, where I spent a long weekend immersed in art, visiting art fairs and galleries for Frieze Week. While Frieze may have been the main event attracting out-of-town visitors, concurrent fairs Felix and Spring/Break, each with their distinct vibe, and numerous exhibition openings across the city, were what made Frieze Week unique, memorable, and fun. Here are just a few of the exhibitions and artists that still resonate after returning home.
FRIEZE ART FAIR
The energy and excitement was palpable at Frieze, bustling as ever with its return to the first in-person fair since 2020. Held February 17-20, this year the fair moved away from Hollywood and opted for a custom-designed fair tent in Beverly Hills. This allowed for more participating galleries, an increase from 70 to 100. Standout installations included Los Angeles-based Glenn Kaino’s Revolutions (2022), presented by Pace, a monumental sculpture made of metal bars in a circular shape. The work was inspired by the connection between global protests from around the world. As an instrument, the bars play the tune to U2’s Sunday Bloody Sunday when struck in sequence. Gagosian presented a single work for its booth, Dreamer’s Folly (2010) by Chris Burden. The architectural structure, made of three conjoined 19th-century cast-iron gazebos, is reminiscent of those found in English gardens. Painted in pale peach and decorated with delicate lace between the columns, walking through the installation felt like stepping into a fairy tale.
Frieze was also an opportunity to discover new artists through the Focus L.A. section, dedicated to 11 young local galleries. Works were tactile and bridged art and craft, tradition and technology. At Garden, Sarah Rosalena’s fascinating work tied together the history of computation, the aerospace industry in Southern California, and Indigenous craft practices. There were gourds made of beeswax with intricate beading applied to them, depicting NASA imaging, tapestries that reflected the encoding of pixel data, and smoked stoneware ceramics, made by a custom 3D printer. In Lieu presented these complex felted wool wall hangings by Pauline Shaw that were inspired by MRI scans taken while she recalled memories from life in Hong Kong as a child. Other pieces were inspired by tapestries seen at the Met and incorporated hand-blown glass and copper objects. Marta combined furniture and sculpture, with new works by New York-based Minjae Kim and local Los Angeles practice A History of Frogs. Stars presented a striking installation by Diné artist Eric-Paul Riege, a pair of large, plush sculptures that resembled beaded necklaces, and a third hanging sculpture that resembled a loom.
SPRING/BREAK ART SHOW
Spring/Break is the artists’ art fair. Founded in New York in 2012 by artists Ambre Kelly and Andrew Gori, Spring/Break held its third Los Angeles edition from Feb 16-20. Memorable booths included: Alia Shawkat and Maria Paz’s Desert Angels booth curated by Kelly and Gori, which felt like walking into an artist’s studio. Ceramic artist Paz was there working on a clay piece, and Shawkat’s paintings were tacked on the wall, as if just completed. Boston-based Abigail Ovilgy Gallery presented works by Allison Baker and Katrina Sánchez. Sánchez’s Welcome Passage installation served as an entry into the playful booth, while Baker’s soft sculptures of giant objects like bendy, sequined cigarettes, a metallic soda can, and a matchbook, slouched against the booth’s walls. We will all be well, curated by Zahra Sherzad, was an eye-catching booth with work by MCXT (Monica Canilao and Xara Thustra). The show’s new location at Skylight Culver City, a 30,000 square foot warehouse, felt more spacious, bright, and far more conducive to viewing art than in previous years. Works from participating artists are well-documented on the show’s website.
FELIX ART FAIR
You can’t get any more L.A. than hanging around poolside cabanas, surrounded by palm trees at the Hotel Roosevelt. Once again taking over the 11th and 12th floor suites and cabanas at the hotel, Felix brought together 60 galleries from across the U.S. and Europe. Standout booths for me included Chicago’s Volume Gallery, where their room was occupied by three large, hanging knotted textile sculptures by Tanya Aguiñiga. A wall piece, Corazón Fronterizo, was made of cotton rope, Terracotta, and a fragment of fence from the US-Mexico border. In the neighbouring room, Sam Stewart’s Da Capo, a series of floor lamps with bonnets as lampshades, stood eerily around each other. Nonaka-Hill, who’s gallery is located in a local strip mall, embraced the hotel room, using the bed as a garden for paper flower sculptures — called edenworks — by Megumi Shinozaki, and puppy figurines.
In the Sycamore district, we stopped in at Deitch for the opening of Luncheon on the Grass, an exhibition with over 30 artists responding to Édouard Manet’s seminal work, Le déjeuner sur l’herbe (1863). Highlights included an impressive triptych, Luncheon on the Grass by British painter Cecily Brown and 12pm on 145th, a work in 3 parts depicting Black female figures using denim, textiles, digital print, and paint, by American artist Tschabalala Self. From Deitch, it was an easy stroll to caffeinate at the beautiful, spacious Sightglass Coffee, with great coffee and a well-curated marketplace, or refuel at Tartine Sycamore, for pastries, bread, or their famous toasts. Both from San Francisco, Sightglass branched out to L.A. in 2020, its first location outside of San Francisco since it opened ten years ago, while Tartine is taking over the L.A. area with five locations and counting. Casual, modern Israeli Mizlala was the place to go, though, as overheard recommended by the gallery assistant at Deitch, for the best falafel. An intriguing sculpture at the entrance of Just One Eye caught our attention, and the staff at the door insisted we step inside—”you can see better from inside, you know”. It was John Chamberlain’s Hawkfliesagain, a sculpture made of crushed chrome and steel scrap metal. Inside the boutique store, alongside designer fashion, jewellery, and furniture pieces, was a gallery of contemporary art including a Damian Hirst cherry blossom painting and a sculpture by Takashi Murakami. Also nearby was the non-profit LAXART with Karl Holmqvist’s text-based work on the façade and Josh Kline’s 16mm short science fiction film, Adaptation, screening inside.
Exploring a stretch of West Washington Boulevard in the Arlington Heights neighbourhood, we stopped in at several galleries. Park View/Paul Soto had a solo exhibition by Los Angeles-based Alex Olson, whose colourful paintings played with the illusion of each work’s surface. In some pieces, blocks of colour were contrasted with stripes of paint, applied thickly with modelling paste and dragged across the surface. In others, wallpaper or textile patterns were made to look like they were peeling the canvas open to reveal another pattern beneath. OCHI had a solo exhibition of Brian Wills, new works using thread, paint, and wood that shifted in colour as you moved around them. More thread works were in the back gallery space, which was entirely painted in Yves Klein Blue, a super saturated blue that was made to provoke perception. A couple doors over, OCHI Aux hosted New York gallery Mrs., with an exhibition of new works by UK-based artist, Poppy Jones. Titled Cutting Shade, the works were small and subtle, the result of a complex process involving printing photographs and painting on suede. At Kristina Kite Gallery, an interesting space with striking checkerboard flooring, pretty, large-scale paintings by Tara Walters, hung in contrast with checkerboard paintings by Los Angeles-based Canadian artist, Hanna Hur. And a few steps away was The Underground Museum, which recently reopened after being closed for the past two years. The Underground Museum is an arts and culture centre operating out of four converted storefronts. Its mission is to offer residents of the neighbourhood access to art, culture, and wellness, for free. On view was a series of paintings by the late artist and museum co-founder Noah Davis. A wander into the purple garden in the back, proved to be an urban oasis.
Another standout exhibition that combined an interesting space, connecting art and design, was Vessels, a 10-day long exhibition presented by curatorial platform Sized. Taking place in the studio’s new home, a former furniture store on a street lined with a mish mash of discount furniture stores, the exhibition featured works by 200 artists, designers, architects, studios, and even a cactus store. Curated by founder and creative director Alexander May,the exhibition was dedicated to the vessel as a poetic form. A vast array of pots, vases, bowls, objects, and furniture were mostly displayed on the ground, spanning the venue’s 7,000 square feet. We spotted an excavated vessel by Vancouver’s own Jeff Martin of Jeff Martin Joinery/Alpineglow Projects. Other interesting works included Fai Khadra’s site-specific crater, drilled directly into the floor on the second floor, and Vanessa Beecroft’s figurative sculpture, which I later found out from May was cast from the body of Kim Kardashian. Included in the exhibition was a site-specific Ikebana installation by SŌGETSU Los Angeles, with branches sourced from The Lovell House, a Richard Neutra designed home, and botanical clippings provided by The Huntington Gardens. After this show, they’ll undergo further renovations to the space, perhaps do a show in New York, perhaps without quite this many artists—the options are open. I’ll definitely be following along to see what’s next!
I’m marking my calendar for Frieze L.A. next year. In the meantime, exhibitions back home are flourishing, with a welcome return to gallery openings and Spring programming to look forward to!