Frieze: tortured but lucrative

By Thomas Roueché | November 4, 2013

Cornucopia was honoured to be invited to this year’s Frieze Art Fair and its sibling, Frieze Masters. London’s megafair was as shiny and glitzy as ever, provoking a flurry of newspaper articles and commentaries on the state of the art world in the British press. Having recently returned from the madness of Istanbul’s Biennale it was curiously comforting to hear echoes of the same questions about what art is for, the role of the country’s oligarchs in supporting it, the tortured but lucrative relationship between art and commerce.

Frieze is astonishing in its chaos, the glitzy crowds almost obscuring the elegant booths. This year two Istanbul galleries attended. Sylvia Kouvali’s astonishing Rodeo gallery presented a collection of elegantly abstruse works by Ian Law and James Richards, and paintings by the incomparably wonderful Apostolos Giorgiou.

Rampa, the other Turkish gallery at the show, paraded a selection of Turkish greats – an all-star cast of Erinç Seymen, Nevin Aladağ, Hüseyn Bahri Alptekin and Nilbar Güreş, with Below Elsewhere's Palm Trees (main picture), among others.

Frieze Masters, meanwhile, on the other side of Regent’s Park, was a far cry from the hectic madness of its sibling. With storied exhibitors like Lowell Libson and Johnny van Haeften showing Breughels and Turners, the elegantly designed grey and white tent exuded elegance. These dealers had little need for the hype that fuels the contemporary art world, their booths exuding hyper confidence

Although little Turkish art was on sale, here and there gems presented themselves. In particular the Nil Yalter installation at Espaivisor – a Spanish contemporary gallery showing the Turkish artist as part of the curated ‘Spotlight’ event, focusing on artists working through the 20th century.

Elsewhere Moshe Tabibnia, a carpet dealer from Milan, showed gorgeous Ushak carpets, in among huge Chinese and Cairene offerings.

Finally at Ben Elwes’s booth, two early 18th-century portraits of Moroccan ambassadors by Enoch Seeman (1694–1745) were especially fine, vivid and characterful.

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