LOS ANGELES – The art world is back in full force and Frieze Los Angeles is no exception, despite the ubiquitous masks and QR codes. After a two-year hiatus, Frieze has returned to Los Angeles, and in a new venue in Beverly Hills. This year, materiality takes center stage as one of the recurring threads throughout the fair. Whether understated and poetic, as in the ceramic pieces of Simone Fattal and the wall hangings of Sheila Hicks, or exuberant and playful, as in the textile sculptures of Leda Catunda and mixed-media installations of Tschabalala Self, there is a strong sense of tactility throughout. Replacing the figurative painting that featured so heavily in 2020’s edition are instead tapestry-like works, from iconic names such as Gee’s Bend and William Kentridge to emerging artists such as Ambrose Rhapsody Murray and Igshaan Adams. It is as if, after two years of staring at works on screen, galleries knew that audiences were hungry for artwork so physical, you could devour them with your eyes and almost feel them on your skin.

Nowhere is this sense of materiality more on display than in the fair’s Focus LA section, which features 11 young LA-based galleries curated by Amanda Hunt, director of Public Programs & Creative Practice at the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art. Hunt’s interest in subversive uses of material is evident in the selection of artists, from Eric-Paul Riege (represented by Stars) — whose fiber-based work are equal parts sculptural installation as they are material and ritual extensions of the artist’s Native Hózhó philosophy — to Sarah Rosalena Brady (represented by Garden), who merges technologies such as artificial intelligence and 3D printing with traditional craft mediums such as textiles and ceramics. Perhaps best encapsulating the section’s focus on unconventional material is In Lieu gallery, whose booth brings together terrazzo sculptures by Ficus Interfaith with felted tapestries by Pauline Shaw in a funky, yet oddly complementary pairing.

Eric-Paul Riege (Stars)

Other standout booths throughout the fair include Emalin/Southard Reid, with a striking combination of black-and-white works, pairing the photographs of Joanna Piotrowska together with the darkly humorous animations of Özgür Kar; Hauser & Wirth, with a mint-green architectural installation highlighting the elusive dimensionality of new works by Camille Henrot; and Alexander Gray Associates, exhibiting the figurative paintings of legendary feminist and 89-year-old icon Joan Semmel. Also of note are works by artists Patrick Joseph Martinez and Jay Lynn Gomez, whose collaborative work shines a spotlight on the labor underpinning the art world, and Devin Reynolds,  whose textural, graffiti-laden paintings celebrate the aesthetics of Black and brown communities — serving as a sharp reminder of the Los Angeles that exists outside of Beverly Hills and the art world.

To this point, Frieze Los Angeles 2022 attempts to expand its scope outside of its usual white walls through a collaboration with artist Tanya Aguiñiga, presenting a communal space titled “BIPOC Exchange” highlighting 10 LA-based, artist-led social impact projects. Though the beautiful garden provides a welcome respite — reminding fairgoers of what art can look like on a day-to-day basis for most people, whether in homemade zines, communal choir, or dance theater, and how it can make a meaningful impact within communities — its peripheral location also means that the space is unfortunately under-trafficked and overlooked. Perhaps, though, in an event ultimately about the art market and industry hobnobbing, it’s as much as can be expected.

Leda Catunda (Bortolami)
Pauline Shaw (In Lieu)
Joan Semmels (Alexander Gray Associates)
Sarah Rosalena Brady (Garden)
Patrick Joseph Martinez/Jay Lynn Gomez (Charlie James Gallery)
“BIPOC Exchange” at the Wilshire Garden in the Beverly Hilton
Camille Henrot (Hauser & Wirth)
 Özgür Kar and Joanna Piotrowska (Emalin/Southard Reid)
Suzanne Jackson (Ortuzar Projects)
Diana Yesenia Alvarado and Devin Reynolds (Jeffrey Deitch)
Otani Workshop (Perrotin)
Tshabalala Self and Wyatt Kahn (Galerie Eva Presenhuber)

Frieze Los Angeles continues at 9900 Wilshire Boulevard (Beverly Hills, Los Angeles) through February 20.

Caroline Ellen Liou is an Asian-American art worker based in Los Angeles. She received a BFA in painting at the Rhode Island School of Design and an MA in contemporary Chinese art and geopolitics at the...