Frieze Art Fair is chaotic, brash, and boastful. It is a gaudy combination of cash, ugly designer goods, and pseudo-hipster overpriced cocktails. Long story short: there is no kind way to describe it. Since 2003, the art fair has grown to exponential size, now showcasing over 160 of the world's leading galleries. Every autumn a clumsy melee of the art world's elite descend on London to seek and find the newest and shiniest collectibles from those galleries deemed worthy of a 5x5 stall in a Regent's Park Pop Up.

This year, the fair witnessed the much-hyped return of Damien Hirst. His newest piece at the White Cube was marked with a quiet £1,2mi price tag within the opening hour of the VIP preview. Paired with mediocre performance from Tino Seghal and a bed you could share with strangers while charging your smartphone, it sure was Instagram porn at its best.

But I was bored, enticed only by gimmicks by Danny Bader at Sadie Coles, and Jenny Holzer's signature neons at Spruth Magers. Nothing groundbreaking. A stall offering to draw your genitals, and a few risqué signs reading, "culture = capital" (ooooh...), but Regent's Park was filled with an overwhelming sense of...very little.

#tb to darren bader / sadie coles @ frieze

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Perhaps my criticism is surface level: on my evening visit I was exhausted after a day taking advantage of the complementary shows laid on by the galleries of Mayfair, Hoxton, and Soho. Escaping the crowds earlier in the day, I had headed into my normal White Cube comforts, and London's thriving art scene did not disappoint.

Due to the descending of the rich and somewhat famous, galleries are being wickedly smart about this: putting on their, debatable, best artists so that those who don't like crowds (me), particularly enclosed spaces (me), or dirty looks from the establishment (me), and have lots of money (m... nope, not me) can escape the Frieze madness for at least a few hours and take their capital elsewhere. This is not to say that the shows are heavily commercial or quietly subversive: indeed some are both. But mostly, they were interesting.


So what were the ultimate highlights of my Frieze week?

Ugo Rondinone at Sadie Coles HQ

This was my absolute Frieze Week highlight: never had clouds, mountains and waterfalls looked so good. The reflective space of Sadie Coles had become a perfect refuge with Rondinone's sculptures' colours radiating under the skylights. His work was everything I'd hoped it would be.

ugo rondinone @ sadie coles is AMAZING ALL MY SCULPTURE DREAMS CAME TRU

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Elmgreen and Dragset, and Kara Walker at Victoria Miro (Mayfair, and Islington)

What's this? Victoria Miro putting on Kara Walker, whose work famously criticizes the bias of the white cube, male, American art history, and points the finger at those complicit in 19th, 20th, and 21st-century racism? For Frieze? I was in love. After following Walker's silloheuttes to East Coast America and back, seeing these new works - complemented by sketches and full-size paintings - in London was fantastic. As always, the detail is impeccable, but the paintings for the first time were beautiful. Subtle, subversive, and scathing.

💖 kara 👆 walker 🎉

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Gerhard Richter @ Dominique Lèvy

For the first time, Richter's 1960s 'Colour Charts' work are on display at the Dominique Lévy gallery on Bond Street. Snapped up quickly by collectors, these works are unlike his signature Richterian photopainting blur (though, naturally, Lèvy's team included one for good measure), but they offer us the same pigment experimentation that we see developing in his later work.

first ever colour charts retrospective by gerhard richter @ dominique levy (babe)

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Thea Djordjadze at South London Gallery

Djorjadze is having a pretty good time this Autumn, having her exhibition at SLG open in time to correspond with her new piece at the Frieze Art Fair, but the two couldn't seem further apart. These more architectural works offer a contemplative aspect to her work, based on those used in Asia.


The Big Blue at Ordovas

Albeit, this is a small and bizarrely curated show, yet Ordovas has showcased a few of my favorite artists in their space opposite Hauser + Wirth. Complete with token Damien Hirst shark, and two Yves Kleins, this exhibition explored the theme of blue and the sea (what?) in a pseudo-intellectual manner. Perhaps it was lost on me, or I got lost in the shark, but I mainly came for the Klein. Stayed for the Picasso.

hirst / 2 yves klein's (!!!!) / picasso / ' the big blue' @ ordovas

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