This past week my Aunt and Uncle gave me an early Christmas present. Frieze London is regarded as one of the worlds greatest contemporary art fairs, and this year they were not able to attend. Instead of letting their VIP packages be wasted on the kitchen counter, they told me to expect mail and have fun. As soon as those passes were in hand, my trendiest clothes were on – it’s a very sheik scene.
I know very little about art. The only galleries and museums I’m aware of are the ones I’ve visited. And the only artists whose names have landed in my memory are those I’ve met. A few years ago I remember walking by a painting and saying to myself, “how does something like that get into a museum like this?”. Then I read the plaque – it was a Picasso.
What I do know is what I like. And that awareness has allowed me to feel comfortable in all artistic environments. I believe the greatest aversion people have to art is that it makes them feel ignorant. They view the art world as pretentious, and because of that they shun it. This shouldn’t be. I do not understand the art I like – or don’t like – but never do I try to understand it. Doing so is as unattainable as discovering the meaning of life – it’s much more enjoyable when you accept it for what it is.
My love for visiting galleries, fairs, and museums is that viewing the art reminds me of meeting new people. I’m never sure whether or not I’m going to find something I like, or something I love. I’m more comfortable around the pieces I’m familiar with. If I do find something I’m interested in I’ll make sure I have a way to find it again. And too often the first impression makes or breaks the relationship.
Viewing art should feel as though you’re meeting someone new. It is an extension of ourselves. Whether that is painting, sculpture, performance, or other, there is a human element. Something the artist wanted to expose about them self. And that is bold. That personal exhibitionism gives contemporary art an edge that is more relatable and humanistic than classic art. At least this is how I see it.
At Frieze the people are as eccentric as the exhibits. It is easy to assume that anyone who dresses so wildly is hunting for attention – and in many cases that may be true. I’ve always been more drawn to believe that some people have a different conception of beauty than I do. And that they are courageous enough to expose it.
Some of the wildest outfits I witnessed had me too intimidated to ask if I could take their picture. It was foolish of me – I shouldn’t have been shy. These people were at Frieze for the same reason I was – to see what was there. The people, paintings, pictures, sculptures – everything. And soon I realized that every person who attended, myself included, was as on display as the art itself.