Art Advisor Nico Epstein shares his insights from Frieze London 2020
Part of my role as a curator and art advisor over the past ten years has involved me working with younger artists and helping them progress in their careers. To a certain extent, these personal relationships I have formed with artists educate my own selections and recommendations.
At this year’s Frieze art fair, I particularly enjoyed seeing the artworks of Sebastian Lloyd Rees, whom I worked with a few years ago. His hoardings, extricated from construction sites, were once designed for separation and protection. With his work, the objects take on new meanings as highly geometric artworks whose textures and aesthetic recall mid-century American modernist painters and assemblers like Lee Bontecou.
Another one of my top picks from this year´s Fair is Omar Fakhoury and his paintings of deteriorated chairs at the Beirut-based Marfa´ contemporary art gallery. Farkhoury’s highly expressive paintings are melancholic, nostalgic, and like Rees’ hoardings, emphasise the art-object as a palimpsest. Frieze offered the Lebanese gallery free participation in light of the tragedies that have recently befallen the country, a heartfelt and welcome gesture.
Frieze, as a leading brand in the contemporary art fair space, has been constantly looking to improve its digital offering, even before this Covid-19 inflicted online-only phase. I believe that the new normal will be a symbiotic combination of in-person events such as the gallery openings and the Sculpture Park, with digital booths and online infrastructure. The free access and the very fact that the fair is online allows for a much wider international audience to gain exposure to the art being shown, and for galleries to potentially reach more leads than they otherwise would have done before. However, on the other side of the coin, it is much harder for the galleries taking part to do their job through an online chat function. The physical interaction and deal-making dance that so often happens at fairs can’t be easily replicated through an online messaging interface.
The paradigm, where a gallery showcases inventory online in a more sophisticated way and then display the works in a local venue, will increasingly become the new normal both for fairs and for art viewing in general. Furthermore, I believe we will have more local people visiting regional fairs and fewer people travelling extensively to internationally recognised events and their satellite affiliates; disrupting and shifting the art world into a new era of being.
Nico Epstein, Partner at Artvisor, Consultant for Frieze Art Fair and EDUART EXPERIENCE art advisor and lecturer
Nico Epstein is a curator, art historian and art advisor with over 10 years of experience in the field of contemporary art. He is a partner and COO of Artvisor, a London based contemporary art consultancy. Epstein has helped to arrange more than 20 contemporary art exhibitions throughout Europe, New York and Hong Kong, focusing mostly on artists of his generation. Epstein is a frequent lecturer on contemporary art at Christie’s Education in London where he recently designed and taught the course ‘Navigating the Art Market Online’. He has lectured on contemporary art and its markets at Bocconi, The Courtauld, and University College London among other leading universities.