Detail of LORNA SIMPSON B”lack & Ice” 2017, on view at Hauser & Wirth, Frieze NY


KNOWN FOR INTRODUCING the latest in today’s contemporary art, Frieze New York this year features both must-see new works and gems from the past. Some of the highlights include focused exhibitions of new paintings by Lorna Simpson at Hauser & Wirth, and 1960s and 70s sculptures by Barabara Chase-Riboud at Michael Rosenfeld Gallery.

Frieze opens to the public today on Randalls Island (May 5-7) in a sprawling white tent. Works by more than 1,000 of today’s leading artists are being presented by about 200 international galleries. Works by African American artists and black artists from around the world can be found throughout. The offerings are relatively spare, but the representation is probably the best it has been since the London-based fair launched in New York in 2012.

Several booths are must-see destinations. A pair of 2017 sculptures by Kevin Beasley are the focus of the Casey Kaplan space. The artist’s works are essentially site-specific collaborations with fair goers.

Titled “Phasing (Ebb)” and “Phasing (Flow), the conglomerations of house dresses and durags set in resin are suspended on the walls and have an audio component. Microphones in the booth pick up ambient sounds and murmurs of conversation that emanate in real time from the sculptures, which are on view with several other works by Beasley.

Michael Rosenfeld Gallery has dedicated its booth to sculptures by European-based Chase-Riboud. Monumental works composed of aluminum and silk with names such as “Bathers,” “Matisse’s Back in Twins,” and “Zanzibar/Black,” are being presented along with smaller examples of her mixed-media sculptures and charcoal drawings. Chase-Riboud was born in Philadelphia and lives and works between Paris, Rome and Milan. In September, a solo exhibition at the gallery will present her complete series of sculptures inspired by the transformative life of Malcolm X.

Jack Shainman Gallery is exhibiting a dynamic group show featuring a wide-selection from its diverse roster of artists. Embellished with beads and sequins, a black circular textile by Nick Cave greets visitors to the space where works by El Anatsui, Odili Donald Odita, Toyin Ojih Odutola, Radcliffe Bailey, and Hank Willis Thoams, among others, are on view.


Detail of NAOMI WANJIKU GAKUNGA, “Calm Before Storm,” 2017 (sheet metal, galvanized steel, and wire), at October Gallery. | Photo by Victoria L. Valentine


OCTOBER GALLERY is also presenting a sculptural textile by El Anatsui, alongside compelling works by Alexis Peskine, Naomi Wanjiku Gakunga, and Romuald Hazoumé of Benin, who is recognized for his “African” masks made from plastic gasoline containers.

Peskine’s mixed-media portraits are composed of nails on wood board. The Paris-born and -based artist holds degrees from Howard University and the Maryland Institute College of Art. The London gallery is also presenting “Calm Before Storm,” an amazing metal sculpture by Naomi Wanjiku Gakunga. Born in Kenya, she studied at the University of Nairobi and at UCLA and now lives and works in San Antonio, Texas.

In a series of “America” photographic portraits from 2001-2004 displayed at the Galerie Nathalie Obadia booth, Andres Serrano sought to document identity in the United States, post 9/11. The images capture America’s diversity, from ordinary citizens to celebrities, including a postal worker, FBI agent, nurse, doctor, and Snoop Dogg.

Serrano also photographed a member of the New Black Panther Party, a Hasidic Jew, and an American Indian woman from the Powhatan Renape Nation. A 2004 portrait of real estate magnate Donald Trump is also on view, right next to Snoop. Serrano’s works put into sharp relief how America is truly a nation where anything is possible.

Works by Kara Walker, Jennifer Packer, and Deana Lawson are on view at Sikkema Jenkins. Reprising the themes of “Protest,” its 2016 exhibition exploring migration, equality, and democracy, London-based Victoria Miro is featuring Walker, Stan Douglas, and Isaac Julien, among others.


Installation view of new paintings and sculpture by LORNA SIMPSON at Hauser & Wirth. | Photo by Victoria L. Valentine


LAST MONTH, Hauser & Wirth announced its representation of Simpson and the gallery’s space at Frieze is dedicated to the artist, who is known primarily for her photography. “Blue & Ice” features a suite of new paintings and a foray into sculpture.

Advancing the direction Simpson has pursued with her painting since the 2015 Venice Biennale, the canvases combine figuration and abstraction and feature a palette of moody grays punctuated by a bright turquoise blue. The figures in the paintings maintain more info their glamour and determined gaze despite the chaos and encroaching force of the natural world that surrounds them.

Her related sculptures link 600 bronze rings or “bracelets” and pair blocks of glass “ice” with stacks of vintage Ebony magazines. The publications feature representational images that have inspired her paintings.

Linking the past to the present, the layered metaphors of the sculptures resonate with the artist’s personal narrative and in a broader cultural sense. According to the gallery, about the works Simpson has said: “Conceptually, this is in tandem with what I’m experiencing emotionally but also to what, I feel, is going on politically; the idea of being relentlessly consumed.” The ice references being on ice, a period of stagnation or imprisonment. “There’s something about ice that has come into the work that indicates either freezing or endurance,” she said.


Detail of HENRY TAYLOR, “Deana Lawson in the Lionel Hamptons,” 2016 (acrylic on canvas), is on view at Blum & Poe. | Photo by Victoria L. Valentine


AT GOODMAN GALLERY of Johannesburg and Cape Town, works by American artist Hank Willis Thomas and Kiluanji Kia Henda of Angola are on view.

Elsewhere, throughout the fair, individual works by artists Tony Lewis (Massimo De Carlo), Pope.L (Mitchell-Innes & Nash), Jayson Musson (Salon 94), Adam Pendleton (Parra & Romero), Tschabalala Self (T293), Yinka Shonibare MBE (Stephen Friedman), Henry Taylor (Blum & Poe), are on view.


In terms of programming, Frieze Talks includes a Sunday (May 7) reading and discussion with Claudia Rankine. Through her Racial Imaginary Institute, the author of “Citizen: An American Lyric” (2014), recently hosted a public forum at the Whitney Museum of Art about race, violence, and representation. The event was organized in response to the controversy surrounding a Dana Schutz painting of Emmett Till in his coffin that appears in the museum’s current 2017 biennial.

Even on the preview day, Frieze was well attended. I spotted artist and photographer Chuck Close navigating the fair. Isolde Brielmaier, who was appointed curator-at-large at the Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery at Skidmore College last fall, was wading through the crowds, too.

Chase-Riboud, 77, made a cameo appearance. The artist, who is also an accomplished poet and novelist, was sitting for several hours in the afternoon in the Michael Rosenfeld booth, where many of her early works were on view in the United States for the first time. CT


“Lorna Simpson” is a comprehensive catalogue documenting her body of work over the past three decades. Accompanying an exhibition of the same name, “Lorna Simpson: Works on Paper,” explores her collages and drawings. An earlier monograph simply titled “Lorna Simpson” accompanied a touring exhibition and includes contributions from Okwui Enwezor, Helaine Posner, Hilton Als, and Thelma Golden. “Barbara Chase-Riboud: The Malcolm X Steles” documents the artist’s most acclaimed series of sculptures. She also is a prolific poet and novelist.


Installation view of BARBARA CHASE-RIBOUD, “Matisse’s Back in Twins,” 1967/1994 (polished bronze and silk on painted steel base). | Photo by Victoria L. Valentine


Installation view of sculpture by KEVIN BEASLEY that features an audio component capturing real-time sound from the Casey Kaplan space at Frieze New York. | Photo by Victoria L. Valentine


NICK CAVE, “Tondo,” 2010 (mixed media, including beaded and sequined garments, fabric, and wood). | Photo by Victoria L. Valentine


From left, Installation view of works by TOYIN OJIH ODUTOLA (“Compound Leaf,” 2017), NICK CAVE (“Untitled,” 2012), and RADCLIFFE BAILEY (“Eshu at the Dismal,” 2017), at Jack Shainman Gallery. | Photo by Victoria L. Valentine


Installation view of “America” series (2001-2004) by ANDRES SERRANO featuring Donald Trump, Snoop Dogg, and Jill Hardy of the Powhatan Renape Nation, Galerie Nathalie Obadia of Paris and Brussels. | Photo by Victoria L. Valentine


JENNIFER PACKER, “Jerroid,” 2017 (oil on canvas), at Sikkema Jenkins Gallery. | Photo by Victoria L. Valentine


Installation view of works by ALEXIS PESKINE on view at October Gallery of London. | Photo by Victoria L. Valentine


ISAAC JULIEN, “Pas de Deux No. 2 (Looking for Langston Vintage Series),” 1989/2016 (Kodak Premier print, Diasec mounted on aluminum) at Victoria Miro Gallery. | Photo by Victoria L. Valentine


Works by Harlem-born, New Haven, Conn.-based TSCHABALALA SELF are featured in the Focus section at T293 Gallery of Rome. | Photo by Victoria L. Valentine


Installation view of KARA WALKER’s three-part drawing “Securing a Motherland Should Have Been Sufficient” (2016) and “Invasive Species (to be placed in your native garden)” (2017), a bronze sculpture. | Photo by Victoria L. Valentine


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