‘Simple’ Paintings, Video Bags, Electric Boys, and Chilling Polaroids at Anthony Reynolds Gallery

Between Jon Thompson’s not-so Simple Paintings, Palme D’or winner Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s Electric Boy, Georgia Sagri’s Video Bags and Walid Raad’s Hostage works, Anthony Reynolds Gallery’s Frieze London booth offers a diverse, intriguing collection.

Jon Thompson’s Simple Paintings would have been well-suited series for Frieze Masters (if they had been created before 2000, of course) in that they are boiled down, simplified versions of famous paintings from art history. Blue Cruciform (Fouquet’s Angels) uses color to reference the crimson and cobalt cherubim surrounding the Virgin and Child in Jean Fouquet’s Melun Diptych (1451). Yellow Cruciform (Goyas Shadows) references the emphatic shadows employed by Francisco de Goya and the contrasting shades of yellow, as in his grotesque Saturn Devouring His Son (1819-23), from his late series of “Black Paintings”.

Also featured is Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s Power Boy (Mekong), a work included in For Tomorrow For Tonight, the artist’s project to visit the banks of the Mekong River in Northeast Thailand where it serves as the barrier between Thailand and Laos. This area was also the focus for his film Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives, which won the Palme D’or at Cannes in 2010. For Tomorrow For Tonight focuses on a single house along the river that is affected by the consistent rise and fall of the river’s tide, caused by electricity dams. Weerasethakul was inspired by Ray Bradbury’s story about Mr. Electrico, a carnival performer who Bradbury befriended as a 12-year-old, whose talent was surviving electrocution in the electric chair. In Power Boy, a young man sits at the edge of the Mekong wearing a t-shirt lit up with multicolored lights—indeed, the artist is inspired by the variety of light along the river.

Greek artist Georgia Sagri contributes three Video Bags, leather handbags and a backpack used as vessels to display portable DVD players that play her videos Do You Think I am Human and Just Just and in one bag, David Hammons’s Toy. She hangs two of the bags on the wall employing unusual objects as hooks like a piece of driftwood, a ceramic dolphin, and an animal horn. She says of these works, “the video bags are for carrying messages, videos that I want not to seem like static objects. They are promotions. They suggest viewers can walk around with them and they listen to the music or the sound of the video when they are seeing other pieces of the show.” Sagri, one of the original participants in Occupy Wall Street and the leader of the group that occupied SoHo gallery Artists Space in October 2011, is best known for her performance works; she was featured in the 2012 Whitney Biennial.

Walid Raad contributes his work “Hostage: The Bachar Polaroids”, a series of 20 photographs of polaroids that Raad presents with a fictional narrative about a hostage, Souheil Bachar , who was held captive in Lebanon for 10 years and was given discarded polaroids of himself, from which he removed his image and filled it in with paints that were available to him. The Lebanese artist presents these works as a response to the events of the 1982-1992 Western Hostage Crisis in Lebanon. Raad insists that Bachcar is based on a real character.

On view at Anthony Reynolds Gallery, Frieze London 2013, Booth B8, October 17th – 20th.

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