Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Balloons Away; @Thestandardarts in Association with 45frieze London There's Plenty of Fun to Be Had at This Year's Bumper Fair but the Prices Are Deadly Serious. Ben Luke Picks out His Highlights

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Balloons Away; @Thestandardarts in Association with 45frieze London There's Plenty of Fun to Be Had at This Year's Bumper Fair but the Prices Are Deadly Serious. Ben Luke Picks out His Highlights

Article excerpt

Byline: Ben Luke

ON THE day Theresa May's conference speech affirmed the chaos in Britain's political life, the Frieze London art fair's VIP day proved again that the capital's art market remains buoyant, immune to the wider disarray. Works were selling for seven-figure sums within minutes of the arrival of the world's biggest collectors in Regent's Park, and the dealers seemed chipper.

The work at the booths of the more than 160 galleries from 31 countries at Frieze London, now in its 15th year, is typically eclectic, and the big guns among the galleries have adopted different strategies. Gagosian plays it low-key, with works on paper rather than the kind of show-stopping stand they've done before. Hauser & Wirth adopt a more playful concept, creating a mock-regional museum, with a show of bronze works, complete with a shop selling pencils for PS1, random bronze items from eBay and works by artists such as David Smith and Louise Bourgeois on sale for millions, the whole thing curated by Mary Beard. Sex Work, dedicated to radical sexual politics, is a fascinating addition. Focus, dedicated to younger galleries and emerging artists, is the fair's most dynamic and enjoyable section.

Float your boat ? Kris Lemsalu So Let Us Melt and Make No Sound (2017) Koppe Astner Gallery This 33-year-old Estonian artist is at a breakthrough moment: she's showing at the new Goldsmiths gallery in London when it opens next year, and in Performa, the performance art biennial in New York, next month. Her work for Frieze evokes her performances, which often feature music, but it consists of a darkly absurd sculpture, made from found and handmade materials.

A faceless, keyboard-playing robed figure, fashioned in ceramic, sits atop the prow of real upturned boat on the spume of waves formed from balloons. The figure's rope legs drop flaccidly over the side of the boat, and end in outsize, comic ceramic sneakers and socks. It's a classic Romantic or mythological image gone slightly awry: funny, gently sinister and captivating.

Biggest price tag ? Jeff Koons Gazing Ball (Giotto The Kiss of Judas) (2015-16) David Zwirner Gallery Koons's concept in his Gazing Ball paintings is to take blue glass orbs -- most often used today as kitschy garden ornaments -- and place them on a shelf attached to minutely detailed painted copies of masterpieces from art history. In this case he's appropriated Giotto's magnificent painting on the wall of the Scrovegni Chapel in Padua.

Koons suggests the ball brings the viewer into a revelatory communion with the paintings, and once even went so far as to say the original paintings were "stronger" for being brought together with these baubles. "In this time, this moment, they're most powerful as they are in this state of gazing," he said. I find them hideous, as do many other critics, but that clearly hasn't bothered collectors: this work sold within minutes of the VIP viewing opening yesterday morning. …

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