What to See at Frieze Art Fair

With blue chip galleries from London, Paris and New York in attendance, the move to Santa Monica Airport means its largest offering yet



A rendering of Frieze LOS ANGELES 2023 at the Santa Monica Airport. Courtesy WHY Architecture.


After stops at Paramount Studios and Beverly Hills, Frieze Los Angeles, the international art fair that’s become a West Coast staple, is rising anew in the southeast corner of the Santa Monica Airport. From Feb. 16-19, the fair returns for its fourth installment with more than 120 galleries—including locals such as Regen Projects, Jeffrey Deitch, David Kordansky Gallery, Various Small Fires, Blum & Poe, The Box, and international exhibitors Hauser & Wirth, Sprüth Magers, Pace Gallery, David Zwirner Gallery, Gagosian, Sadie Coles HQ and Marian Goodman Gallery—inside the latest bespoke tent design by Kulapat Yantrasast’s WHY Architecture. Restaurant pop-ups organized by Regarding Her, installations, performances, public artworks and a new spotlight on the Westside’s cultural history all accompany the fair’s fourth iteration in L.A.

Director Christine Messineo says the more expansive location includes a number of new galleries inside the main tent as well as a wider selection of 20th-century art in the airport’s Barker Hanger from such staples as Berggruen Gallery, L.A. Louver, Marianne Boesky Gallery and Parrasch Heijnen. “Some works here are from the generation before the artists people know and collect,” she adds. Also at Barker is an expanded Focus section centered on emerging galleries from across the country, including New York’s Regular Normal, Hollywood’s Stars and Los Angeles’ Sow & Tailor, organized by Amanda Hunt and Sonya Tamaddon.


Ramsey Alderson, photo courtesy of Frieze.


To connect the Frieze galleries spread across two sites at the airport, Messineo tapped Art Production Fund led by Casey Fremont to put together an on-site Frieze Projects exhibition called Now Playing, a series of public artworks installed along the walk between the two spaces including a Chris Burden sculpture evoking an Erector set, Basil Kincaid’s patchwork quilts exploring the African diaspora and Ruben Ochoa’s van-turned-gallery exhibiting stacks of bronze tortillas. And there are not-to-be-missed soccer clinics hosted by the Los Angeles Football Club slated for the athletic fields adjacent to the fair—the soccer balls are emblazoned with fluffy bears created by L.A. painter and sculptor Alake Shilling and produced by the arts nonprofit.

Messineo’s conversation with curator Jay Ezra Nayssan, a Los Angeles native and the founder of Santa Monica-based nonprofit art space Del Vaz Projects, illustrates what drew her to the fair’s ocean-adjacent location. “We began to talk about the history of art on the Westside, the world of more known figures like Frank Gehry, Ed Ruscha, John Baldessari, but also the rich history of performers, composers, writers that is maybe lesser known but built the foundation of the area,” she says. Now Nayssan has developed an off-site Frieze Projects program with an eye on the region’s architecture including Thomas Mann’s Pacific Palisades house and the artist residence Villa Aurora owned by German exiles Lion and Marta Feuchtwanger who hosted concerts and receptions in the 1940s drawing Mann and his brother Heinrich, Bertolt Brecht, Bruno Frank, Charlie Chaplin, Franz Werfel and his wife Alma Mahler-Werfel, Hanns Eisler and Ernst Toch.


Ed Ruscha, Standard Station, 1966. Color screenprint on commercial buff paper. Image courtesy of Berggruen Gallery.


LEFT: Yun-Hee Toh. Untitled. 2017-2019. Oil on canvas. Courtesy of the artist and Gallery Hyundai. RIGHT: Sadie Barnette, Mirror Bar, 2022. Neon, vinyl on mirror plexiglas in arched frame, holographic vinyl upholstery, and glitter plexiglas. Courtesy of the artist and Jessica Silverman.


Helen Evans Ramsaran, The Soul of the House, 1995. Bronze.


Bridget Riley.


Thinking about…“In the Light and Shadow of Morandi”, 2018. Uta Barth (born in West Germany, 1958, active in the United States). Pigment print. Getty Museum. © Uta Barth. 2021.15.


Nayssan’s “Against the Edge” curation brings works by contemporary artists to five cultural sites across the Westside, including the German émigrés’ former residences, beginning on February 13. Each space contains solo presentations of works in conversation with their surroundings, invariably exploring the precarity of space and place in L.A. Sculptor Kelly Akashi’s work is installed at Villa Aurora, pieces by video artist Tony Cokes at Venice’s Beyond Baroque, protest banners by visual artist Nicola L. are installed at the Thomas Mann House, and multimedia artist Julie Becker’s installations, often inspired by L.A.’s psychological and physical geographies, are at Del Vaz Projects. A performance of work by John Cage is set for February 16 at the Santa Monica pier’s merry-go-round building. All the selected artworks, in dialogue with their surroundings, “explore the legacy of art and architecture, home and place,” says Nayssan.

Beyond Frieze, there are a host of not-to-be missed exhibitions around town. Messineo’s must-sees include MOCA’s “Simone Forti,” complete with Thursday and weekend Dance Constructions performances, on view through April 2. Christine Sun Kim’s site-specific mural at the ICA, “Helen Cammock: I Will Keep My Soul” at the California African American Museum and the Hammer Museum’s extensive “Bridget Riley Drawings” show. And Messineo points out that Frieze week offers a last chance to see Uta Barth at the Getty Center, open through February 19. Other pieces Messineo finds herself drawn to around town include Tony DeLap’s The Big Wave (the abstract steel archway installed across Wilshire) and the dinosaur topiaries lining Third Street Promenade by the French collaborative duo Les LaLanne. 3223 Donald Douglas Loop South, Santa Monica, frieze.com.


Feature image: Tiwani Contemporary_Michaela Yearwood Dan. Michaela Yearwood-Dan. Easier to Bare, 2022. Oil, ink and pastels on canvas. Courtesy the Artist and Tiwani Contemporary.


February 10, 2023

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