Presented at The Shed in Manhattan for the first time, the tenth edition of Frieze New York is running between 5 and 9 May 2021 with over 60 galleries from across the world. Ocula Advisory's Rory Mitchell selects ten highlights from the fair.
Ragna Bley at Downs & Ross
This exquisite acrylic painting by Ragna Bley is rendered on sailcloth, its billowing forms mimicking the material when set in motion by the wind.
Leaving the sailcloth unprimed, Bley's colours seep across the surface and gently merge with one another. Employing a lightness of touch, these are sensorial pictures, caught between abstraction and figuration.
The Uppsala-born artist is based in Oslo, where she returned after earning an MA from the Royal College of Art in 2015.
Cassi Namoda at Goodman Gallery
Los Angeles and New York-based artist Cassi Namoda mines art historical references while combining her ongoing explorations of post-colonial Mozambique, her birthplace.
Shifting between portrayals of the everyday and historical moments, with influences including Edvard Munch and Van Gogh, Namoda offers arresting visual narratives.
This painting is showing for the first time, and follows her recent solo exhibition at Goodman Gallery in Johannesburg.
Camille Blatrix at Andrew Kreps Gallery
Young French artist Camille Blatrix makes uncanny images that play with the idea of how we react emotionally to seemingly mundane objects.
Despite being rendered on wood, the surface of this work seems to harbour a slick industrial aesthetic that is bizarrely at odds with the image of a burning candle, depicted on wood.
Blatrix's graphic style, awash with coded references, is strangely enticing and encourages numerous alternative readings.
In 2020, Blatrix was the subject of a solo exhibition at Kunsthalle Basel titled Standby Mice Station, which included the artist's sculptures inspired by mass-produced objects. Blatrix is based in Paris and was awarded the Prize of the Fondation d'entreprise Ricard in 2014.
Sarah Sze at Tanya Bonakdar Gallery
Sarah Sze's kaleidoscopic paintings render material the immateriality of digital space, collapsing the boundaries between physical and virtual worlds.
Sze's 2020 solo exhibition at Gagosian in Paris brought painting and multimedia installation together. 'In the age of the image,' the artist explained in Ocula Magazine, 'a painting is a sculpture, and it becomes even more of an incredibly lush experience, because we're so used to looking at many things through digital colour spectrums'.
Simone Leigh at Hauser & Wirth
Taking the subjective experiences of her female protagonists as her starting point, Leigh's sculptural works brilliantly meld these elements to rework the histories of Black women.
In 2018, Leigh was the recipient of the Hugo Boss Prize. She also recently participated in the 2019 Whitney Biennial with Brick House (2018–2019), a monumental bronze bust of a Black woman showing at New York City's High Line until May 2021.
In 2022, Leigh will be the first Black woman to represent the United States at the Venice Biennale.
Florian Krewer at Michael Werner Gallery
Florian Krewer is the latest painter to emerge with much fanfare from the legendary Michael Werner Gallery.
Hauntingly atmospheric urban scenes depicting male figures—often clad in contemporary streetwear and either hanging out, playing with dogs, or fighting—seem to tackle preconceptions of masculinity.
Krewer's abstracted figures with wavy limbs stretching out across dark flat surfaces are imbued with a dreamlike quality through his luscious and, at times, shocking colour palette. Confident and singular in style, echoing his lived experience, Krewer seems destined to maintain his rapid trajectory.
Hernan Bas at Lehmann Maupin
Screens have become a central part of Bas' practice. Inspired by the decorative paintings of 20th-century French painters Pierre Bonnard and Éduoard Vuillard, and the representation of male eroticism in 1980s and 90s Miami, Bas reinterprets these worlds through his wonderfully flamboyant palette, capturing scenes of effeminate and youthful male figures in states of reverie.
William Kentridge at Goodman Gallery
Measuring almost three-by-three metres, this large-scale drawing by William Kentridge is part of the artist's ongoing series of trees rendered in India ink on pages pulled from old encyclopedias.
Intercepted by phrases, the trees in Kentridge's series are divvied in portions between pages and brought together as a whole.
Indigenous to a specific area around Johannesburg in South Africa, these are given an added layer through word associations included on their surface, as is the case of this one, called upon by the phrase, 'Comrade Tree, I report to you'.
The use of paper provides a cyclical element, with trees leading to books 'and the words they hold.'
Julie Mehretu at White Cube
Julie Mehretu is one of the most sought-after artists in the world at the moment. With a major solo exhibition currently on show at The Whitney Museum of Art in New York, she is firmly established as a leading light on the international stage.
An edition of this stunning aquatint etching is included in the Whitney show and showcases the blurred lines and shimmering gestural marks that have become synonymous with Mehretu's abstractions.
At once disruptive and immersive, her work distills experiences and broad social and political conditions into incredibly powerful abstract compositions.
Kim Tschang-Yeul at Tina Kim Gallery
The innate energy and depth of the late Kim Tschang-Yeul's droplets never cease to amaze.
This work is part of his 'Recurrence' series, featuring water droplets placed against a backdrop of characters from a Chinese textbook and is testament to his exquisite representation of translucence and the fragility of form.
The artist's first drop painting was produced in 1970, having discovered the unique subject matter late one night in his studio. Dissatisfied with what he was making at the time, the artist splashed some water on the back of the canvas.
In Ocula Magazine, Kim explained, 'I noticed that the water drops stayed there and were shining on the canvas. It was extraordinary. I thought: that's what I have to do. I wondered if I could make art out of this.' —[O]
Main image: Ragna Bley, One-day (2021) (detail). Acrylic on sailcloth. 150 x 208 cm. Courtesy Downs & Ross.