Frieze Week 2021

The opening of Frieze London and Frieze Masters took place this week. On this occasion, we met the international and multidisciplinary artist, Antonio Riello, who has lived and worked in London for over a decade. He guided us through Regent’s Park for Frieze Sculpture and gave us his impressions on this outdoor exhibition

Laetitia Florescu for ARTEEZ : You are a great lover of history and you know London very well. Can you tell us how the concept of this sculpture exhibition in Regent’s Park was born?

Antonio Riello (AR) : Frieze Art Fair at its beginning just enhanced a kind of London tradition: to use temporary public spaces like parks to show some sculptures. Sometimes, the shows around London were not always so brilliant and even a little bit chaotic. The Frieze Sculpture project though has always been properly curated and has a declared purpose: to be an outside branch of the Art Fair.

« Untitled » by Tatiana Wolska. Frieze Sculpture 2021 © Laetitia Florescu

This edition presents sculptures from various artistic currents and features artists from different continents. Do you like the ensemble and do you think it represents the various forms of contemporary sculpture? 

AR: Of course there is a certain degree of commercial attitude in this short list so some extreme kinds of art installation (too difficult to be managed) are not considered. However, in general terms, the answer is YES, we can see here a broad range of proposals. Many different materials (stone, metals, high-tech materials, concrete, plexiglas, recycled plastic) and techniques. Traditional merely self-reliant works and, on the other hand, works ”asking” for a human interaction. The scale itself is varied also: some works are (alas) too small if compared to the huge space of the Park, other sculptures fit it perfectly.

« Quantum Shift » by Gisela Colon. Frieze Sculpture 2021 © Laetitia Florescu

Which sculptures have touched you the most in this presentation? 

AR: The Number One for me is « Environnement de Transchromie Circulaire » by Carlos Cruz-Diez. A smart, interactive, poetical installation, very well made in every little detail.

The others (in order of my very personal preference):  « Induk Monster » by Yunizar, a fantastic and whimsical bronze frog posing like the Rome’s She-Wolf).

« Induk Monster » by Yunizar. Frieze Sculpture 2021 © Laetitia Florescu

« Untitled » by Tatiana Wolska is an intelligent installation about the power of waste recycling, and it deals gloriously with the trees. « Quantum Shift » by Gisela Colon, is extremely elegant in its gigantic and High-Tech minimalism. Isamu Noguchi « Play Sculpture »  plays the role of a joyfully circular bench and is tantamount a toroidal geometric structure.  

« Play Sculpture » by Isamu Noguchi. Frieze Sculpture 2021 © Laetitia Florescu

Can you tell us more about your background and your relationship to sculpture?

AR: I work mainly with objects (combining, changing, twisting, conceptually manipulating them) and every object, even of small size, is actually a peculiar kind of sculpture. I do think there is no better medium. For me, every idea needs its own matching material. So I am used to work with different stuff. Actually, ceramic, glass, metals and fabrics (usually designed by me) are my favourite ones.

You are a « sociologist artist » who often questions the meaning of human behavior and you handle humor with great finesse. What do you think of art fairs and the current turn of the art market? 

AR:  Art has always been a sort of fragile balance of Aesthetics and Ethics. After several decades of “Age of Desire” (where the aesthetical moment was definitely prevalent), the Western countries now face the “Age of Anxiety and Guilt” where the Ethics has somehow the upper hand. The art market at the very beginning struggled to cope with this issue but now most of the galleries have learnt how to manage this situation properly.  In a nutshell, what we can see in the current art fairs around the world is the controversial process of settling and tuning this new balance.

What are your current and future projects? 

AR: During the “Long Lockdown” (2020), I turned myself into the curious explorer of my own  personal space, starting a long project (“DOMESTIC TAKEOVER”) of classification of all the items I have inside my home. I work along the taxonomic attitude, like the naturalists of 19th century: every object is systematically portrayed in form of a drawing on paper made with blue ink ballpoint pen (the eponymous BIC Crystal pen). This ambitious task (still in progress) will have its first public appearance in London on January 21st 2022 at Danielle Arnaud Gallery.

Portrait of Antonio Riello in front of « Environnement de Transchromie Circulaire » by Carlos Cruz-Diez. Frieze Sculpture 2021 © Laetitia Florescu

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Frieze Sculpture coincides with Frieze London and Frieze Masters 2021. It has a virtual presence on the Frieze London and Frieze Masters Viewing Room (13–17 October, 2021).

Frieze Sculpture
English Gardens of The Regent’s Park, London
From 14 September to 31 October, 2021.
Free and open to all

For more information about Antonio Riello:

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© 2021