Signs of fall have arrived in London. The air is brisk, leaves are beginning to change color, and a promenade through one of London’s royal parks leads to a parcours of contemporary sculpture. It can only mean one thing: Frieze Week is around the corner.
Now a yearly fixture teasing the arrival of the Frieze fairs in Regent’s Park, Frieze Sculpture opened to the public on September 14, a little later in the year than its usual summer opening due to ongoing complications relating to shipping.
At the unveiling, Frieze London’s artistic director Eva Langret promised that Frieze and Frieze Masters, returning October 13–17 after a pandemic hiatus, will be back in force. The curator of the sculpture program, Clare Lilley (who is also the director of program at Yorkshire Sculpture Park), highlighted the global character of this year’s selection, with artists hailing from South America, South and North Africa, Indonesia, Pakistan, the U.S. and Canada, and Europe.
“I see exciting sculptural conversations across time and geography, and while many sculptures here relate to social and environmental concerns, there is much heightened color and dextrous handling of material, resulting in an overall sense that is celebratory,” Lilley said in a statement. “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 and is a tonic for the mind, body, and soul.”
The works, by 18 artists spanning three generations, range from soapstone skulls by Solange Pessoa to a quirky pineapple courtesy of Rose Wylie to Vanessa da Silva’s joyful steel-and-fiberglass figures, Muamba Grove.
One highlight is a fragment of this year’s Serpentine Pavilion, a gathering table designed by Johannesburg architectural studio Counterspace; its inclusion marks the first time one of the U.K.’s public institutions has taken part in the Frieze initiative (the other works are presented by commercial galleries). By extending the pavilion’s tendrils outside of its traditional home in Hyde Park, the installation is suggestive of themes relating to migration and displacement. Another notable entry is artist-preservationist Jorge Otero-Pailos’s Biosignature Preservation (2019), a repurposing of the security fence erected by the U.S. Embassy in Oslo after 9/11 that recalls contorted iron rebar left after bombings or natural disaster.