Frieze London’s new Unworlding section hoped to raise awareness of young artists, but it also generated sales


Unworlding, a new section of Frieze London examining ideas of collapse and rebirth, is perhaps the kind of title you might expect from a biennial. And the works on display here, the vast majority of very young artists, are more radical and experimental than in other parts of the fair, but that doesn’t mean they don’t sell.

At the Tanya Leighton gallery in Berlin, that of Esteban Jefferson Small palace series of paintings, installed with sound and video pieces, had all sold on Friday morning at prices ranging from $ 25,000 to $ 55,000. The canvases focus on two busts of unidentified blacks installed behind the counters of the Petit Palais museum in Paris. Jefferson has spent the last three years researching 17th-century sculptures, which the museum had mistakenly dated to the 19th century. “Esteban wanted to give the sculptures the space they deserve,” explains a spokesperson for the gallery.

Painting reigns supreme at Frieze London this year, but few works are as oversized as the apocalyptic canvases by Natacha Donzé, which had almost all sold on the booth of the Parisian Parliament gallery. The Atlas polyptych (2021) – Donzé’s largest work to date, at 10m in length – found a home with a Middle Eastern foundation for € 28,000. Drawing inspiration from sci-fi films, video games and scientific imagery, the painting is populated with wisps and flies and represents the artist’s take on Atlas, the Greek Titan god who was in charge to bear the weight of the sky on his shoulders.

Berlin and Beijing-based Hua International Gallery marks its first exhibition at Frieze with a multimedia installation and performances by Fanny Gicquel, who has never exhibited at an art fair before. Two coins sold to collectors – one German, one Greek – for £ 1,700 and £ 6,800. However, at £ 15,000 for the stand (including installation), the gallery is unlikely to cover its costs.

No matter: a spokesperson for the gallery says that participating in Frieze is always “important to position and deepen our relationship with Cédric Fauq”, the curator of Unworlding and chief curator of the CAPC museum in Bordeaux. “It also allowed us to finally close sales with collectors we spoke with in Germany and who were waiting for the show experience to close the deals.”


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