The Collections section of Frieze Masters this year focuses on a dialogue between East and West, with participating galleries showcasing work that spans millennia. Amin Jaffer has curated Collections with Sir Norman Rosenthal for the 2019 edition. Whitewaller caught up with the historian, writer, and curator to learn more about specific presentations of work by artists like S. H. Raza and thematic exhibitions, including that shown at Van der Meij Fine Arts’ booth.
WHITEWALLER: Can you tell us about the theme and focus of this year’s Collections section?
AMIN JAFFER: This year’s Collections is a collaboration between Sir Norman Rosenthal and myself, reflecting our respective interests and areas of expertise. A group of eight galleries will present small-scale museum-style exhibitions, adopting subjects and approaches that stand at the core of art collecting. The theme of East–West cultural encounters has long been an interest of mine and is evident most especially in the offering of Grosvenor Gallery, explained below, and Alexis Renard, who will display Indian miniature paintings representing westerners.
WW: Can you tell us about S. H. Raza’s work we’ll see on view at Grosvenor Gallery?
AJ: Grosvenor Gallery will be presenting works by Indian modernist S. H. Raza, specifically his rarely seen black-and-white monochromatic works from 1977 to 1996—a seminal early period in the artist’s practice—executed in Paris. The mid-1970s was a pivotal time for Raza, during which he moved away from traditional European techniques and perspectives and began producing abstract works based upon geometric forms in early Hindu and Jain art. The gallery will juxtapose early examples of these along with works by Raza.
WW: What may we be surprised to see in the exhibition of North European 19th- century work at Van der Meij Fine Arts?
AJ: The gallery will be showing work by, amongst others, the important Danish painter Laurits Andersen Ring (1854–1933), who straddled the line between realism and symbolism in an almost imperceptible way. His work is intentionally understated, and touches on emotions like loneliness, longing, and absence. The large-scale canvas Evening, dating from 1892, is a significant example of his detached, Nordic isolation. Work by Laurits Andersen Ring has been acquired in recent years by international museums like The National Gallery, London; The Toledo Museum of Art, Toledo, Ohio; and the Currier Museum of Art, New Hampshire. A big solo exhibition of his work will go on display in the United States shortly, starting at the National Nordic Museum in Seattle on 14 September and going onto the Bruce Museum in Greenwich, Connecticut, in early 2020.
WW: What is the oldest and perhaps rarest object/work we’ll see in Collections? And what about the newest?
AJ: Collections presents work spanning over five thousand years, ranging from the third millennium BCE to recent times. Among the oldest works may be Galerie Kevorkian’s presentation of Luristan bronzes from the collection of David David-Weill, who acquired them in the 1930s when the field was little known. On the other end of the spectrum, the most recent works are the 1970s creations of S. H. Raza.
WW: Outside the fair this October, what are you excited to see in London this fall?
AJ: I no longer live in London and use every opportunity in the city to catch up on the extraordinary range of exhibitions on show in the city. Two blockbusters I look forward to are major single-artist shows: Antony Gormley at the Royal Academy of Arts and Olafar Eliasson at Tate Modern. On East–West subjects, The Wallace Collection will open a jewel-like exhibition about Company School painting curated by William Dalrymple on 4 December, which is unmissable!