Highlights of the 2021 Frieze Sculpture, Regent’s Park London
Updated: Feb 22, 2022
The annual London Frieze Sculpture outdoor display returns to the Regent's Park (English Gardens) until 31 October 2021. The entrance is free and open to everyone.
"The Frieze Sculpture show is a tonic for the mind, body, and soul." (Clare Lilley)
Curated for the ninth time by the Director of Programme at Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Clare Lilley, this year’s edition of Frieze Sculpture features outstanding international contributions that address environmental concerns, architecture, and geopolitical power structures, with artists like Daniel Arsham, Gisela Colón, Rasheed Araeen, and Solange Pessoa leading the way.
Daniel Arsham’s Unearthed Bronze Eroded Melpomene (2021) depicts the head of a half-buried classical Roman bust, imagined emerging from the ground a thousand years in the future and being eroded by crystalline shards.
The inspiration was the bust of the Roman muse currently part of Musée du Louvre’s collection in Paris and conveys the artist’s uchronic aesthetics that usually evolves around fictional archaeology, creating in-between spaces, and envisaging further stages of present relics, therefore erasing all conventional boundaries between past, present, and future.
Given the constant digital dematerialization of our world, Arsham’s artwork challenges the viewer to envision modern artefacts in a distant future, as if they would’ve just been unearthed after being buried for ages.
Radiating futuristic energy and being connected to the Californian Light and Space movement, the phallic-looking Quantum Shift (Parabolic Monolith Sirius Titanium) (2021) is a "pearlescent monolith" (term used by artnet here) that proposes new cosmological and historical beginnings.
“By appropriating classic masculine forms and symbols and rendering them into aesthetically ambiguous, desirable objects, the monolith sculptures subvert the traditionally aggressive, destructive references of these objects. Their negative meanings are transmuted into positive energies that address phenomenology and the universal concern of human relationships with the Earth.” (Gisela Colón)
Also influenced by 1960s and 1970s land art and formal minimalism, the Canadian-Puerto Rican artist Gisela Colón deliberately transforms classic masculine forms such as the phallus, bullets, rockets, or missiles into feminized symbols of power.
The material used is a type of carbon fibre that is developed for advanced aerospace technology. By typically subverting and appropriating forms associated with male aggression, Quantum Shift as well as other artworks created by Colón reaffirm her self-appointed role as “challenger and disruptor of the past canon where, traditionally, men created aggressive gestures, which were sometimes destructive towards the Earth”.
“Quantum Shift is emblematic of the dawn of a new era, a symbol for hope, and a moment for renewal.” (Jaynelle Hazard)
Untitled, 2021 by José Pedro Croft is a large-scale geometric artwork that focuses on perception and space to cause a tension in the spectator's gaze, exuding an appearance of instability, fragility, and impermanence through the use of six large 6-metre-high rectangle panels of steel and coloured glass inspired by the Regent’s Park palette.
Although rigid in its form of basic construction, the sculpture’s allegedly precarious balance surprises with a startling vibrancy given by diverse transparency effects and colour variations. Croft uses formal shapes and glass to play with the effects of light and create new volumes that suggest an altered sense of space, proposing a dialectical tension between emptiness and fullness.
L’Environnement de Transchromie Circulaire (1965/2017) is a monumental, circular structure created by Carlos Cruz-Diez, one of Latin America’s leading postwar artists. By offering a subtractive, shimmering, and immersive experience, the artist invites the spectator to rediscover the natural or urban environment through chromatic wandering, by just walking around and contemplating the landscape through multi-coloured stained-glass windows that seem to emerge from the ground.
“I don’t make paintings, nor sculptures. I make platforms for occurrences. They are platforms where color is being produced, generated, dissolved, in a perpetual instant. In it, there’s no notion of past nor future, just the notion of the present moment, just like life.” (Carlos Cruz-Diez).
“You can’t destroy history. The history and this fence is precisely what is left after we’re done trying to destroy it. I think it’s important to remove this fence but also to find a way to keep it. Preserving the act of taking it down.” (Jorge Otero-Pailos)
Part of Otero-Pailos’ series “American Fence”, Biosignature Preservation addresses themes of heritage, memory, and transition. The artwork is wrought from the recovered remains of the security fence raised around the U.S. Embassy in Oslo after September 11th, 2001, and removed upon the building’s sale. By employing material residues of sites and buildings, Otero-Pailos renders invisible meanings visible, enables a deeper sense of responsibility for our shared existence, and invites viewers to consider monuments as powerful agents for cultural connection, understanding, and questioning across time.
“Like children need to carry things from home into the outside world, as adults we need to carry objects from the past into the future.” (Jorge Otero-Pailos)
Made from six pieces of standard sewer elbow pipe, interlocked into an undulating ring and spray-painted bright red, Play Sculpture is one of Japanese-American artist Isamu Noguchi’s most popular environment-in-an-object all-in-one playscapes intended for visitors of all ages to climb, sit, rest or play on.
“I think of playgrounds as a primer of functions and shapes; mysterious, simple, and evocative: thus educational. The child’s world would be a beginning world, clear and fresh” (Isamu Noguchi, A Sculptor’s World, 161).
Pineapple is a quirky, larger-than-life sculpture that combines a spiked exterior, vaguely human proportions, and abnormally large crown of leaves to embody an intriguing and cynical commentary on the expression “prickly woman.”
Wylie’s art first featured the tropical fruit in 2013, inspired by the time she once purchased a pineapple grown in Ghana, from her local market, and was so fascinated by its shape that she ended up making multiple sketches of it.
"Each Frieze Sculpture installation brings such a different picture of sculptural practice and it’s heartening that this year is especially global, including artists who herald from Indonesia, Pakistan, South America, South and North Africa, the USA and Canada, and from across Europe.
Although the artists span three generations, I see exciting sculptural conversations across time and geography and while many sculptures here relate to environmental and social concerns, there is much-heightened colour and dextrous handling of material, resulting in an overall sense that is celebratory.
As we learn to live with the pandemic and emerge into public spaces, Frieze Sculpture 2021 allows people to come together in safety and with pleasure." (Clare Lilley, Curator of Frieze Sculpture, quote sourced via frieze.com)
Visit the temporary outdoor sculpture park in Regent's Park until Sunday 31 October 2021 to get your annual fix of Frieze sculptures.
📍 English Gardens, London NW1 4LL 🚇 The closest London Underground Stations to Frieze Sculpture display are Regent's Park (on the Bakerloo Line) and Great Portland Street (on the Circle, Hammersmith & City and Metropolitan Lines).
*All photos were taken by Ina/WithinLondon, unless stated otherwise :)