Ellie & I finally made it to Frieze Sculpture 2022 in Regent’s Park. Like every year it kicked off well ahead of Frieze London and Frieze Masters, which only open on 12 (until 16) October. Open to the public since September 14, Frieze Sculpture will run all the way through November 13. So there is still plenty of time to plan a visit to the sculpture garden. It is free entry.
Feature pic shows Shaikha al Mazrou, Red Stack; above f.l.t.r.: Jordy Kerwick,
Vertical Plane Me; Ro Robertson, Drench
FRIEZE SCULPTURE 2022 IS PART OF SCULPTURE WEEK LONDON
As in previous years, the open-air exhibition has been curated by Clare Lilley, the Director of Yorkshire Sculpture Park. She selected 19 large-scale artworks from 19 international artists, including Ugo Rondinone, John Giorno, Péju Alatise, and Alicja Kwade. Under the label “Sculpture Week London,” Frieze Sculpture has partnered up with Sculpture In The City (SITC) and the Mayor of London’s Fourth Plinth Programme in Trafalgar Square for a city-wide celebration of sculpture in public places. While Sculpture week is over now, you can still enjoy the very cool SITC sculptures and the Fourth Plinth.
Pablo Reinoso, Speaker’s Corner; George Rickey, Five Lines in Parallel Planes
ART THAT TICKLES THE SENSES OF EVERYONE
AT FRIEZE SCULPTURE 2022
Frieze Sculpture 2022 is intending to showcase world-class pieces of art, that are perhaps not always easily intelligible, but nonetheless interesting to those of us, who might not have spent a lot of time looking at sculptures. It would seem fair to say that this year’s exhibition has succeeded in both objectives.
VARIETY OF THEMES RANGING FROM POETRY AND
POLITICS TO FEMALE HEALING
There are a number of different themes at play: works by John Giorno, John Wood and Paul Harrison, Robert Indiana, and Tim Etchells are structured as texts. The words are conveying messages that combine poetry with politics. Poetic-political themes are also central to the work of Ro Robertson and Péju Alatise, whose gazes, according to the press release, “turn to female and non-binary healing in nature.” Fair enough. Along similar lines, Shaikha al Mazrou, Beverly Pepper and Ida Ekblad created sculptures that explore the sensibility of women.
1st pic Ida Ekblad, Book of Boredom; last pic Tim Etchells, Don’t Look Back
THEMES LIKE COMMUNITY, MYTHOLOGY, AND SPIRITUALITY
Moreover, works by Marinella Senatore, Pablo Reinoso, and Ron Arad emphasise the importance of community. Finally, while the future looks uncertain, mythology and folklore are explored by Jordy Kerwick and Matthew Darbyshire, whilst pieces by George Rickey, Alicja Kwade, Emma Hart and NS Harsha conjure the spiritual and universal.
HOW TO GET TO FRIEZE SCULPTURE 2022
The closest tube stations are Great Portland Street (Metropolitan, Hammersmith & City, Circle Line; 12mins walk), Regent’s Park (Bakerloo Line; 12mins walk), Baker Street (all of the above, plus Jubilee Line; 15mins walk).
FREE AUDIO GUIDE
There is a free audio guide available. It is about two minutes per sculpture, and nicely done. All you have to do is use your smartphone to scan the QR Code attached to each artwork’s explanatory note signpost and click the link.
THE SCULPTURES AT FRIEZE SCULPTURE 2022
In the following, I will be providing a bit of background on some of the sculptures. The order is not numeric, but in the sequence I passed by them, which seemed the most intuitive route to me.
Hercules Meets Galatea is one ensemble of two opposing sculptures,
about 5m apart, photographed separately here.
MATTHEW DARBYSHIRE, HERCULES MEETS
GALATEA, 2022, BRONZE, ED. 1/3 (S2)
The nineteen sculptures are numbered from S1 to S19. Ellie & I immediately fell in love with sculpture S2. Even before we had listened to the audio guide. It just draws your attention.
Hercules looks a bit rough, while Galatea looks smooth, defiant, and superior, despite being much smaller than Hercules. We learn that Hercules was created by quickly and crudely cutting into a polystyrene block with a bread knife. Only then was the figure cast into bronze in that very shape. Galatea, on the other hand, was produced using 3D modelling software and high-tech equipment at a car prototyping factory.
A recurrent theme in Darbyshire’s work is to make the audience question what is authentic or true and what is artificial or fake. The roles of Hercules and Galatea are almost reversed. Bronze as an expensive material looks almost devalued by having used a cast made of the cheapest material, polystyrene.
In a recent interview with the Cambridge Independent, the artist said about Hercules Meets Galatea: “This work is about sculpture in the 21st century and asks which attributes elicit spirit, potency and charge – is it scale, symbol, surface, material, maker or manufacture?”
Ugo Rondinone, yellow-blue-monk; Robert Indiana, Imperial LOVE; John Giorno, Space,
UGO RONDINONE, YELLOW-BLUE-MONK, 2020,
PAINTED BRONZE (S3)
While Ellie & I found Darbyshire’s work both aesthetically pleasing and thought-provoking, we struggled with yellow-blue-monk at first. We learned that the work is exploring the transcendence offered by nature. Through colour, form, and mass it “evokes an altogether contemporary version of the sublime.” Sublimey, perhaps not for me, I thought.
Then, once you make an effort, you can see the relief the monk figure seems to feel while letting nature do its magic on him. That said, some of Rondinone’s other artworks are much easier on the eye, like Seven Magic Mountains.
ROBERT INDIANA, IMPERIAL LOVE, 1966-1971,
POLYCHROME ALUMINIUM, ED 1/4 (S5)
Most of us know some of the 50 famous “LOVE sculptures,” Robert Indiana successfully sold to cities, councils, collectors, and museums around the world. Robert Clark, as he was known before he relabelled, usually varied the signs. Some were even in different languages, or differed somewhat in design. The “Painter of Signs,” as he liked to call himself, is considered to be a vital part of the Pop Art Movement. He died only four years ago, aged 89.
He referred to his art as one-word poems. Other words he made sculptures of are EAT, DIE, HUG, and ERR. What’s impressive about Imperial Love, here at Frieze Sculpture 2022, is that it is so early. Indiana had only completed his first monumental LOVE sculpture one year earlier, in 1970. While some might criticise the repetitiveness of the oeuvre, hardly anyone will deny that the sculptures look pleasant, friendly, and invigorating with the bright colours and the materials used.
JOHN GIORNO, SPACE MIRRORS MIND, 2022, GLACIAL GRANITE, ENGRAVED (S4) AT FRIEZE SCULPTURE 2022
Considering that John Giorno died in 2019, it might seem strange at first that the work is dated 2022. However, we learn that before his passing, Giorno selected the boulder and left notes about the design. The piece was indeed created after his death and has not been seen by the public before. John Giorno was Ugo Rondinone’s husband, and his death put Rondinone on the path to exploring the transcendence offered by nature.
Space Mirrors Mind consists of a found glacial granite that was engraved with precisely those three words. It is part of a series of works called Stone Poems. Space Mirrors Mind explores the Buddhist idea of transience through the words themselves and also assisted by the idea of the boulder having been formed over millions of years.
While this particular piece of art might not be giving anyone any thrills, it is always interesting to see work by this highly influential U.S. American artist and one of the originators of performance poetry. His then-lover Andy Warhol once made a six-hour film called ‘Sleep’ about Giorno, which in essence shows the latter sleeping. We loved the Dial-a-Poem set-up at last year’s Frieze.
Ron Arad, R.A., Dubito Ergo Cogito; Alicja Kwade, Tunnel-Tell (Ceci Sera)
RON ARAD, R.A., DUBITO ERGO COGITO, 2022, CAST BRONZE, PATINATED AND POLISHED, ED. 1/6 (S6)
Royal Academy member Ron Arad actually really caught Ellie & me on the right foot with this piece. We both had to laugh when we first spotted it. The idea that Rodin’s famous Thinker had left his seat and that it was now up to us to show that “we doubt, therefore we think,” is funny.
You can see the indentations that Rodin’s Thinker apparently made on the seat and floor with his buttocks and feet. From the audio guide we learn that Arad wants people to sit on the seat. To do some doubting and thinking. And to post it all on social media, where most of the thinking goes on these days, he seems to say.
Alicja Kwade, Tunnel-Tell (Ceci Sera)
ALICJA KWADE, TUNNEL-TELL (CECI SERA), 2020, GRANITE, POLISHED STAINLESS STEEL (S7) AT FRIEZE SCULPTURE 2022
More than any other work, this piece seemed to draw the crowds, at least when we visited. Ellie was fully bought in, too. There was a queue for people to take photos, usually with a lady posing on one side of the stainless steel tube, and her boyfriend or husband or fellow art student taking pictures of her through the tube. Kids (and their parents) seemed to love the unusual visual experience too.
I’m guessing, I must have been to too many Anish Kapoor exhibitions to still be thrilled by this kind of thing. That said, I did enjoy the experience of looking through the tube, moving my head, seeing how the pattern of reflections changed. And of course I didn’t mind taking pictures of my wife.
The Frieze explanatory note makes it clear that the Berlin-based, Polish artist tries to make viewers question what reality is, who it is that’s telling us what it is, how our senses are limiting us, and how a different view point can change our perception of reality.
EMMA HART, BIG TIME, 2022, CERAMIC, METAL (S16)
It’s good that not all tastes are the same. We could’ve made without Big Time, but we saw many families with kids and some other folk that really seemed to enjoy these colourful sculptures. The work consists of separate sundials with funny faces. Each dial is under a different time pressure, taking way too much or not enough.
Emma Hart, Big Time; Péju Alatise, Sim and the Yellow Glass Birds
PEJU ALATISE, SIM AND THE YELLOW GLASS BIRDS, 2022, STAINLESS STEEL, GRANITE CAST, GLASS (S18)
Initially the artwork didn’t appeal to me at all. The colours, the material, the several iterations of the half-naked little girl, the whole set-up didn’t look great. However, it grew on me.
Péju Alatise is one of the most prominent African artists. An artist, architect, and writer. Sim and the Yellow Glass Birds is based on the artist’s story of the same name. It is about a nine-year old girl who gets hired out for domestic work, but who has her separate fantasy world, where she can fly with birds and butterflies. Alatise’s work over the past few years has focused on the mistreatment of women and girls in her native Nigeria. She is currently based in Glasgow.
BEVERLY PEPPER, CURVAE IN CURVAE, 2013-2018, COR-TEN STEEL, ED. 1/3 (S17)
The fact that this iron lady lived to the age of 97 in a male-dominated world of heavily physical large-scale sculptures and only died two years ago, is impressive. Curvae In Curvae looks pretty cool, too. Despite being made of steel, the shape of the sculpture as well as the colour of the rust give it an almost organic touch.
Péju Alatise, Sim and the Yellow Glass Birds; Beverly Pepper, Curvae in Curvae; N.S.
Harsha, Desired for – Arrived at
As mentioned above, Frieze Sculpture 2022 might well be the best Frieze Sculpture in years. There are plenty of further artworks like Shaikha Al Mazrou’s Red Stack (the feature photo). 4.25 out of 5 in my book.
Looking for more about art in London? Check out my posts about Frameless, the immersive art experience, last year’s Frieze London art fair, A.A. Murakami at Superblue, Wayne McGregor & Random International’s No One Is An Island dance performance, Anish Kapour at Lisson Gallery, and Ryoji Ikeda at 180 The Strand, all from last year in London.