chris burden sculpture

Frieze Los Angeles and Felix Art Fair Say Go Big or Go Home

Maybe it was a nostalgic homage to Frieze Los Angeles’s first cinematic iterations on the Paramount lot but the theme of the fair this year seemed like it was landscapes big enough to swallow you with their own plot line. Xavier Hufkens erected what felt like a forest of Thomas Houseago. David Zwirner built a city out of Josh Smith paintings with a Macy’s Day Parade kicker by Jordan Wolfson. Konig threw us into a cloud field with Ayako Rokkaku. Gagosian gave us one of the only places to hide in a fair with perhaps too few Perriers. Sprüeth Magers and Francois Ghebaly threw us into the flames with wall-hugging works by Anne Imhof and Patrick Jackson, respectively.

We also noticed, after years of figuration getting central billing, the fair was giving way to conversations about brushwork and intuition. The welcoming committee, David Kordansky and Blum and Poe, presented different variations on the theme, the former with a solo Michael Williams presentation; the latter with a group presentation headlined by idiosyncratic painters like Tony Lewis and Lauren Quin.

Not to immediately contradict ourselves but perhaps it's not that the figuration and reality had quite disappeared but instead had ditched purity and realism in order to hook up with other ideas in glorious mésalliance. The prevalence of Michel Majerus and Julia Wachtel’s sensibility of the world permeated. The college of realism and fantasy echoes LA’s own obsession with constantly tailoring and refashioning its own mythology. To that end, there was a strong showing of LA artists who bring that feeling to their respective mediums: Laura Owens (Sadie Coles), Helen Pashgian (Lehmann Maupin), Sterling Ruby (Sprüeth Magers).

For the last decade, it seemed like no fashion collection was complete without a fine artist collaborator coming in to screenprint the clothes. Perhaps it's time that designers (and artists) returned the favor. The never seen Martin Margiela popped up with a series of hip-height sculptures. After a three-day-long session at The Shed, Shayne Oliver’s Hood by Air made an appearance at Ramiken’s Felix Art Fair booth in the form of a synthetic ivory collar—a continuation of the necklaces he made in 2015. On the other side of things, photographer and sculptor Thomas Demand raided Alaïa’s archive for a new body of work on view at Matthew Marks, which continued at their gallery. But it was Martine Syms’s Prada outpost that stole the show—transforming Genghis Cohen into a new kind of landmark that had very little to do with fashion (there was nothing to buy) but everything to do with worldbuilding.