Roving Eye: London on the Run, Through Window Glass

Ryan Gander, "Locked Room Scenario," Installation view. Courtesy ArtAngel. Photo by Julian Abrams


In London for Frieze week, I continue to encounter new models and possible art market alternatives.

Right off the plane, our first stop was the so-called Kimberling Gallery, a warehouse in East London where Ryan Gander’s “Locked Room Scenario,” presented by Artangel, was on view. The press release, typical of Gander’s wry humor, described an exhibition called “Field of Meaning, which proposed to bring together the seven artists who constituted a fictitious group the “Blue Conceptualists.”

The works of Gander reflect on those of the elusive historical artists, but they’re installed in the center of the deserted Londonewcastle Depot, walled off such that they can be viewed only from afar. It’s an effective extension of the 37-year-old artist’s meaningful and prolific practice. Reflecting on modernism, Gander often depicts the results of unseen actions, and, in so doing, investigates contemporary ways in which we find meaning in history.

The installation directs the viewer through dark corridors that often lead to locked doors. Narrative and provocatively autobiographical, it is full of misdirection and clues that don’t really help to differentiate what is fact and what is fiction. Thus the artist reflects persuasively on the human condition and the utter complexity of life—we can never see or comprehend all that is available to us. The exhibition is not to be missed.

Another must-see is SUNDAY, an alternative art fair now in its second year on Marylebone Road, just a short walk from Frieze. Not unlike INDEPENDENT in New York, it is a well-curated assembly of galleries presented in an open plan, offering the opportunity to see new programs and even discover some unknown talent. In fact, my husband, Ethan Wagner, and I saw the work of the French artist Dove Allouche (b. 1972) for the first time at the stand of Paris’s Gaudel de Stampa. The Parisian artist has found a way to make skillful drawing and etching a conceptual practice and a platform for his obsessive mind. His graphite and ink drawings of seabeds, burnt forests and smoke, and his etchings of the sewers in Paris, are disorienting, disquieting and ravishing.

Also at SUNDAY is Bryan’s Bar, where they serve Gander’s cocktails. “Bryan” is Ryan’s “best mate” and also an artist. Ryan, who has a great appreciation for a good cocktail, offers up some delicious concoctions. He is, in fact, in the process of compiling a book of cocktail recipes to be submitted by fellow artists, collaborators and friends. This is the second version of the artist’s bar. It is a perfect spot to sit, have a drink or collapse . . . whatever suits.