Frieze OVR Highlights:
Prafulla Mohanti

London, 07 October 2020
Profulla Mohanti, Padma (1979). Mixed media on canvas. 140 x 99 cm. © Prafulla Mohant. Courtesy Jhaveri Contemporary.

We picked out this wonderful work showing with Jhaveri Contemporary for Frieze Art Fair's 2020 online viewing rooms.

Led by Zoe Whitley (Director of Chisendale Gallery), Prafulla Mohanti features in Possessions: Spirituality and the Art of our Time, Frieze's new curated section focusing on the theme of spirituality in contemporary art.

After graduating as an architect in Bombay, Mohanti moved to the U.K. in 1960 working as an architect-town planner in London. Now devoting himself to painting and writing, Mohanti's mixed media works—inspired by Indian traditional theories of cosmogony—feature concentric circles in vivid colours.

Born and having grown up in Nanpur, a village located in the east of Odisha, India, Mohanti's paintings are simultaneously rooted in his village culture, particularly yoga and tantra.

Reflecting on old village life and his move to the U.K., Mohanti notes 'Actually, I have never left the village, either physically or emotionally or spiritually because for me the two worlds are not really separate, they are one. Wherever I go, I carry my village inside of me'.

More in Advisory Picks

Frieze OVR Highlights:
Philip Guston

London, 07 October 2020

Hauser & Wirth included this Philip Guston painting in their Frieze Art Fair 2020 online viewing room.

Tate and several other American museums recently announced their postponement of a major touring Guston retrospective due to the sensitivity of his material during this time of political and social unrest, particularly in America.

From within the art world, there has been widespread criticism of the decision, given the overtly thoughtful nature of Guston's work that critiques many facets of Western society. There have been numerous comparisons of the present political context to that of the 1970s in the U.S. and despair at the lack of progress made.

This painting was made five years after Guston dramatically eschewed his abstract style for a more crude figurative approach. Thick brushstrokes are applied in fleshy tones, imbuing the image with a menacing grotesqueness.

Guston often focused on specific domestic or studio objects, transforming them into harrowing metaphors for broader existential doubts he felt so acutely. At times surreal and lugubrious; Guston uses visceral texture as a vehicle for ridiculing our modes of living, whilst profoundly expressing his own impending confrontation with mortality.

Main image: Philip Guston, Paw II (1975). Oil on canvas. 170.2 x 203.2 cm. © The Estate of Philip Guston. Courtesy the Estate and Hauser & Wirth. Photo: Genevieve Hanson.
Frieze OVR Highlights:
David Hammons

London, 07 October 2020
David Hammons, Untitled (Body Print) (1974). Pigment on paper. 93.7 x 78.7 x 4.1 cm. Courtesy David Hammons. Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth. Photo: Jeff McLane.

Hauser & Wirth showed this historic David Hammons Body Print work in their online viewing room for Frieze Art Fair 2020.

Born in Illinois in 1943, David Hammons' diverse oeuvre, spanning the past 60 years, encompasses conceptual, performance, and installation art.

Untitled (Body Print) is part of Hammons' earliest and most renowned Body Print series. Coating bodies—usually his own—with grease or margarine, Hammons would press these body parts against a sheet of paper. Black pigment would subsequently be dusted onto the work leaving behind a figure detailed with skin, hair, and clothing.

On the process, Hammons notes, 'I have to carefully decide how to get up after I have made the impression that I want. Sometimes I lie there for perhaps three minutes or even longer just figuring out how I can get off the paper without smudging the image that I'm trying to print'.

Recording his presence in his works, and bringing visibility to the narratives and experiences of racism, Hammons reckons with the absence of Black representation in 1970s America, which he has endeavoured to confront and rectify through his work.

Frieze OVR Highlights:
Paula Rego

London, 07 October 2020
Paula Rego, Dame with Goat's Foot 1, (Undressing the Divine Lady) (2011–2012). Pastel on paper. 137 x 102 cm. © Paula Rego. Courtesy the artist and Victoria Miro, London/Venice.

Paula Rego is now represented by Victoria Miro Gallery and this is one of three pastel on paper works from their Frieze Art Fair 2020 online viewing room.

Rego is rightly considered the grand dame of figurative painting in her native Portugal, as well as the U.K., where she has lived for much of her life after studying at the Slade School of Fine Art in the 1950s.

Rego exhibited with The London Group in the 1960s, alongside David Hockney and Frank Auerbach but it was in the 1980s that she received more notable institutional support with solo exhibitions at the Gulbenkian Foundation and the Serpentine Gallery. Later, Rego was to become the subject of comprehensive survey shows at Tate Britain and the Reina Sofia.

Typically for Rego, this work incorporates fantasy or folklore into an intimate domestic scene depicted through a distinctly feminist lens.

She has described her method of using pastels as 'like painting with your fingers'. Soft, smooth tones combine with her confidently drawn line to define the form and expression of her figures.

Her hand has become looser and more economical with large parts of paper left untouched, although her figures enchant us with their melancholic gaze and the psychological complexity of their relationship. Rego's male figure seems angry and vulnerable, whilst he clings onto the 'divine lady', who confidently looks out towards us whilst propped up above him leaning on her guitar.

Numerous foreboding narratives threaten the scene, but Rego never forces them on the view, allowing us space for our own reflection.

Frieze OVR Highlights:
Alina Szapcoznikow

London, 06 October 2020
Alina Szapcoznikow, Lamp Double Mouth on Phallus (1967). Sculpture, design, coloured polyester, lightbulb and electrical wiring. 55 x 49 x 38 cm. © Alina Szapocznikow. Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris. Courtesy of Richard Saltoun Gallery, London.

This gem of a sculpture shown at Frieze Art Fair 2020 with Richard Saltoun online.

Imprisoned for over ten months in concentration camps during the Second World War as a Polish Jew, Szapocnikow's work functions as a record of both her memory as well as a commentary on the female form. Best known for her resin casts of body parts, her sculptures explore a black humour rooted in the fragility and sexualisation of the female body.

The death of Stalin in 1953 saw the Polish government loosening control over creative freedom and prompted Szapocznikow's move to figurative abstraction.

Lamp Double Mouth on Phallus (1967) is part of her sculptures produced in the 1960s that employ bright polyester resins and the forms of lips and breasts. With light bulbs concealed within, these works take the form of functional desk lamps, adding to the artist's commentary on consumer culture and modular reproduction.

Frieze OVR Highlights:
Suzanne Jackson

New York, 06 October 2020
Suzanne Jackson, El Paradiso (1981-84). Acrylic wash on canvas. 139.7 x 157.5 cm. Courtesy Ortuzar Projects. Photo: Tim Doyon.

In the late 1960s, Suzanne Jackson studied art and ballet at San Francisco State University, before touring internationally with a modern dance company and eventually settling in Los Angeles.

There, she met and studied under the influential African-American artist, Charles White, who encouraged her to set up and run Gallery 32, which endorsed the use of art as a vehicle for social activism and also gave early shows to David Hammons and Betye Saar.

For the last 28 years, Jackson has lived in Georgia, teaching at Savannah College of Art and working in her studio. The Jepson Center, Telfair Museums in Savannah honoured her with a comprehensive survey last year.

This figurative painting from the 1980s is one of our highlights from Frieze Art Fair's 2020 online viewing rooms, showing with Ortuzar Projects who held a solo show of Jackson's work at their New York space last year.

A dream landscape depicting the profiles of two faces that are tantalisingly close to kissing is rendered in layers of washed acrylic, revealing a multitude of colours that brim to the surface, whilst others fade away.

Jackson is an alchemist with colour; natural hues swirl together with richer blues and purples, imbuing the canvas with a translucent depth that is beautifully counterbalanced by solid areas of vibrant orange heat and deep red.

Jackson's silhouettes recall mystical paintings or hieroglyphic inscriptions, but the lips are curvier and the tones richer. The couple are bound together by a heart-shaped motif echoed by the bird-of-paradise plant root. Jackson's playful and poetic imagination transports us to her own alluring Eden.

Amy Sillman
at Gladstone Gallery

Brussels, 02 October 2020
Amy Sillman, window and leaf (2020). Acrylic, ink, and oil on canvas. Courtesy Gladstone Gallery.
Amy Sillman, Untitled (green) (2020). Acrylic, ink, and oil on canvas. 129.5 x 124.5 cm. Courtesy Gladstone Gallery.

Gladstone Gallery are exhibiting new paintings and drawings by Amy Sillman across two of their spaces in New York.

In lieu of a conventional press release, Sillman addresses gallery visitors with a poignant letter examining the effect of Covid-19 and the current political climate in America on her work as an artist, and how this changed the course of her practice in the months leading up to these exhibitions.

In doing so she reveals, 'eventually it was the process of improvisation itself that seemed the most timely and urgent. I was thinking about a quote by Fred Moten, "improvisation is making nothing out of something". In this sense "nothing" is a good thing, it means you're in a hole, on the brink of change, and you have to listen, to pay attention. Improvising is a process that comes from within and that proposes a without, a nowhere that is everywhere. The hard questions continue (how to keep making paintings at all, if the world can possibly be rebuilt, and how) but I hope there's an alchemy in there, a use, in keeping on working with the motion between the known and an abstract (but felt) unknown'.

Frieze OVR Highlights:
William Kentridge

London, 01 October 2020

Goodman Gallery recently launched an online video programme of William Kentridge's films on their website, whilst concurrently showing this set of sculptures for their online viewing room with Frieze Art Fair 2020.

As a member of the South African Resistance Art movement in the 1980s, Kentridge's practice has since been grounded in the struggles and emotions of post-apartheid South Africa. In 1999, an exhibition of Kentridge's work went on view at London's Serpentine Gallery, and he has since had countless solo exhibitions worldwide.

Cursive comprises 40 bronze sculptures, or 'glyphs', many of which have been used across Kentridge's previous projects. With each glyph representing a different symbol, the sculptures can be rearranged as one wishes, allowing a multitude of memories and influences of different cultures and periods to interact.

Images: William Kentridge, Cursive (2020). Bronze, set of 40, 130.8 x 153 x 16.5 cm. Courtesy Goodman Gallery.
Frieze OVR Highlights:
Chris Huen Sin Kan

London, 30 September 2020

Simon Lee Gallery showed this Chris Huen Sin Kan painting for Frieze Art Fair 2020 online viewing rooms.

With a style described as 'en plein air—hereto indoor', Chris Huen Sin Kan's paintings consistently feature his dogs, wife, and children in his home and studio in Yuen Long, Hong Kong.

Through his use of diluted oil paints, Huen creates scenes with varying degrees of precision and colour, while his continuous brushstrokes reflect the smoothness of the calligraphic line.

Vibrant and chaotic, yet cohesive and organised, Huen's scenes align with his interest in the 'specious present', a theory first put forward by E.R. Clay to describe the present as being a cumulative experience of many moments.

Speaking to Ocula Magazine Editor-in-Chief Stephanie Bailey in April 2020, Huen noted, 'I selectively depict the more uneventful moments in my daily family life. The less interesting and exciting moments tend to escape our attention'.

Images: Chris Huen Sin Kan, MuiMui, Tess and Joel (2020). Oil on canvas. 220 x 260 cm. Courtesy Simon Lee Gallery.
Joseph Yaeger
at Mamoth

London, 30 September 2020

A group exhibition titled After Image and curated by Robert Spragg, was presented at Mamoth in London (26 September–28 November 2020).

The show takes as its starting point the writer David Joselit's text on how painting can theorise the circulation of commoditised images, presenting us with a group of young U.K.-based conceptual painters working in this mould.

This is one of two similar Joseph Yaeger paintings in watercolour on primed canvas included in the show. Yaeger uses his own photographs, together with films stills, news media, and sourced images as triggers for his works. These images are then transformed through their displacement and the act of painting.

Memory clearly plays a role in Yaeger's watercolours as we are provided with a fleeting glimpse of a moment in time but cracks in the paint or visible underpainting often reveals, in his own words, 'time moving through the image'.

Main image: Joseph Yaeger, Second Wrong Turn (2020). Watercolour on gessoed canvas. 160 x 190 cm. Courtesy Mamoth.
Art Basel OVR Highlights:
Tavares Strachan

Basel, 25 September 2020
Tavares Strachan, Before the Fire (2020). 2 panels; oil, enamel, and pigment on acrylic. 243.8 x 243.8 x 5.1 cm (overall). Courtesy of Marian Goodman Gallery.

Tavares Strachan at Marian Goodman Gallery was another highlight from Art Basel 2020 online viewing rooms.

Cutting through art, politics, and science, Bahamian artist Tavares Strachan's practice reintroduces marginalised objects and peoples into the cultural canon, inspiring a curiosity of the world in the process.

The Encyclopedia of Invisibility (2018–ongoing) is an ongoing project that weaves through the artist's initiatives, containing over 15,000 entries—from B-movies to mythological creatures and historical figures. It is the backbone to his current exhibition at Marian Goodman Gallery, In Plain Sight (8 September–24 October 2020), an immersive presentation of sculptures, explosive paintings, and other elements that bring figures swept from collective memory to the fore.

In Before the Fire (2020), a labyrinth of references includes a photograph of American novelist, poet, and activist James Baldwin taken in 1963—the year his non-fiction work The Fire Next Time was published—in the foreground.

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