Frieze London

6 – 9 October 2016
D8, Regent’s Park, London

Frieze London website

Location map

Hauser & Wirth returns to Frieze London with ‘L’atelier d’artistes’, a tongue-in-cheek examination of the museological practice of reconstructing artist studios, and the tendency to exploit creative licence in the process. The presentation, with its clumsily translated French title, is an exercise in cliché. It brings together the work of numerous artists under the guise of a single artist’s atelier. Whilst each work bears the indelible mark of an individual’s practice, they are united by a shared, muted colour palette and use of raw materials. Seen together in a fictional studio setting they could be crafted by the same hand. The design and aesthetic of this pastiche draws inspiration from the studio of Cézanne in Aix en Provence and from Brâncuși’s restaged studio at Centre Pompidou, both of which rely on a heavy degree of myth.

In ‘L’atelier d’artistes’, a wicker chair sits against a wall covered with a frenzied pencil sketch (Paul McCarthy); an African sculpture (Djordje Ozbolt) is buried amongst coffee stained newspapers and discarded paintbrushes; low-hanging, rusted lamps illuminate a figure roughly sculpted in plaster (Thomas Houseago). In one corner hang experiments in pastel (Lee Bontecou), chalk (Allan Kaprow), collage (Berlinde De Bruyckere) and ink (David Smith); in the other, a classic nude (Henry Moore) and a video piece (Pipilotti Rist). An abstract concrete form (Phyllida Barlow) obstructs an informal salon hang of watercolours (Fausto Melotti and Ellen Gallagher), whilst an iconic bronze sculpture (Hans Arp) sits as a totem amid the chaos of the workspace. Suspended through the skylight, a large geometric sculpture of wood and rope (Bharti Kher) dominates the studio. A marble carving (Louise Bourgeois) sits on a wooden floor littered with drops of paint and dust, whilst the desk is cluttered with fading photographs, postcards of travel and post-it notes.

By toying with surface aesthetics in this way, the presentation subverts expectation – on close inspection it highlights a diverse contemporary milieu and the unique vision of each artist. The project invites viewers to question the purpose of reconstruction and highlights the role of ‘staging’ in how art is viewed, particularly in studio-based presentations.