Regent’s Park, London
After decades of fun, noise, fame and money, the London art fair has found its soul. But there’s still plenty of outrage and sleaze at the grown-up Frieze

I was relieved when I finally found the hidden willies. At times, the first post-pandemic Frieze art fair is so relaxing you could fall asleep in one of its classy lounges. So it was good to see Lindsey Mendick flying the flag for subtle outrage. At the Carl Freedman Gallery booth I come across her lustrous, decadent ceramic vases, whose wounded sides spurt octopus arms. Mendick should be on next year’s Turner shortlist if the Tate has any desire to save its dying prize. Then Freedman showed me another detail. From one of the pots protrude penises like shiny wet worms. It turns out there’s sleaze at the new, grownup Frieze after all – you just need a longer attention span to find it.

The art world has looked into itself during the pandemic. And it’s found that art has to be be more than just fun and noise and fame and money … it has to be sustaining. But how does a cultural sphere that has spent decades celebrating shallowness suddenly find its inner light? At first sight, Frieze has simply gone numb with shock.

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