Frieze Week Day 1: the build-up

Portraits from Wolgang Tillmans and more on top in Francesca Gavin's pre-Frieze art picks

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The circus has rolled into town again, and every art space in the capital is shoving their wares on display. Frieze week started extra early this year it felt, with the Moving Museum ‘Open Heart Surgery’ show on Saturday. Inside the disused brutalist former bank headquarters was a floor of work which included some brilliant works. LuckyPDF created an entire ten year celebration of Peckham ‘From WOWOW! to Now Now’ which included Gareth Pugh’s iconic striped bubble balloon costume (it made the cover of Dazed a decade ago).

Adham Faramway raised the bar very high with an incredible installation of plinths, screens, video works and textured rubble paintings – a hint of some of the great things to come for the Converse Dazed Emerging Artist Award exhibition later this month. If you could tear yourself away from leaning against Alistair Frost’s indoor hot tub, the women in the show were stand out. Cécile B. Evans' layered hyper-pink installation, Hannah Perry's reformation of video and printwork and Celia Hampton’s paintings of cocks were highlights.

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Karl (2013) Wolfgang Tillmans

Monday kicked off again with a flurry of West End shows. Cyprien Gaillard’s folded National Geographics at Sprueth Magers left some confused and others fascinated. The digital abstract scrawls of Jeff Elrod at Simon Lee felt very contemporary (and very money). Hurvin Anderson's painting show, full of leaves and landscapes, at Thomas Dane’s two spaces was a restful and welcome relief. In the build up to Frieze, there was one show that trumped them all - Wolfgang Tillmans at Maureen Paley.

The opening on Monday night was always going to be busy but the bun fight at this show was extraordinary. At one point Wolfgang raised his arm above us all with a smile, and snapped the bottleneck. The two floors of the space were devoted to a single man – an intimate, incredible uber-portrait of Tillmans’ assistant.

Tillmans is an artist who surpasses his medium, any medium, every medium

What that relationship is – erotic, emotional, functional, visual, unclear – changes from image to image. At more than one point the exhibition gives you chills. The pleasure within these images - the sensitivity of everything here, the skin, the light, the positions of the subject of the show - is something exceptionally human. Tillmans’ is an artist who surpasses his medium, any medium, every medium.

Tuesday was a step into the past with piles of boiled sweets by Gonzales-Torres (alongside blobby bright forgettable paintings by Hirst) at Blain Southern’s ‘Candy’ show. While in Berkley Square, PAD brought haute Paris over to flog some incredible African masks, modernist furniture and Klimt drawings. This fantasy fair is a totally guilty pleasure and always worth it. Sadie Coles’ Shannon Ebner show around the corner was a text tech reminder that there are more new faces to be discovered at the big monster opens tomorrow…

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