Launched as a membership scheme for next-generation collectors Frieze 91 returns for the 20th anniversary of Frieze London, offering members unprecedented insight and behind-the -scenes access to artists and shows
Words: Will Moffitt
Aryana Khan is on a mission to unite next generation collectors and nascent creatives. Formerly at Sotheby’s, Khan heads up Frieze 91, a membership programme launched in September 2021 that seeks to connect members with up-and-coming artists and deliver a global calendar of curated experiences.
Alongside premier VIP access to Frieze fairs, Frieze 91 also functions as an international social network for like-minded arts enthusiasts, enabling users to interact via an app called Frieze connect.
“Frieze 91 is [aimed at] people looking to be involved in the art world who are maybe not coming at it from a traditional route,” Khan explains. “It could be younger collectors, but we're not ageist. It's people that may have different expectations, who consume art differently. They aren't necessarily familiar with art fairs or the gallery circuit.”
If this sounds like a simple VIP upgrade think again. While Frieze 91 is designed for comfort – granting users access to preview days, curator tours, exclusive events and complimentary entry to cultural institutions, it’s also been designed to give young up-and-coming creatives a spotlight.
As an example Khan talks excitedly of a studio visit in London during a gallery weekend to see the work of British-Nigerian artist Joy Labinjo, who blurs historical and contemporary elements into an idiosyncratic style, exploring themes of culture, identity, race and belonging.
Meanwhile, in Los Angeles members had the opportunity to see works by Emma Webster, the Californian native who has garnered critical and commercial intrigue with her eerie hallucinatory landscapes partially built via the medium of virtual reality.
“It’s amazing when you have that ‘aha’ moment when you’re looking at something that’s more conceptual or challenging to understand,” Khan says. “Hearing from a gallerist or the artist directly puts it into context.”
For Frieze London, which roars back into life on October 11 for its 20th anniversary edition, Khan is particularly excited about West End night on October 12 where galleries and non-profits located in the West End will be open to Frieze audiences, with spaces hosting special events and private views between 6-8pm that Frieze 91 members will have VIP access to.
Khan is also a passionate advocate for visiting galleries that don’t have a permanent presence in London and seeing artists from diverse backgrounds. At Frieze’s gallery, No.9 Cork Street, there will be shows by trailblazing creatives hailing from Vancouver, New York and North Queensland.
Khan’s ultimate goal is to crack open the closed structures of the traditional art world, unite diverse audiences with lesser known creative talent, and make the process of consuming art more fun and less opaque.
“Often no one realises that you can go into a Sotheby’s and see these incredible previews. It's not always a very welcoming environment. Big blue chip galleries are the same,” Khan says. “That being said, the people who work in those institutions want people to feel welcome. What's great about Freeze 91 is we're in a position to be able to facilitate that for the wider ecosystem.”
Head to No.9 Cork Street for three gripping Frieze week shows:
Night Gallery will present the first solo show in London dedicated to Wanda Koop (b. 1951, Vancouver, Canada), a Winnipeg-based artist whose four-decade-long career includes over 50 international exhibitions. ‘Eclipse’ will feature new paintings extending Koop’s practice of using bold surrealism to disrupt and reinvigorate landscape traditions, drawing on her dreams, moods and the unconscious to both lament and stand against contemporary ecological concerns.
Charles Moffett will present ‘This, That, and The Third Eye’, a solo exhibition of recent work by Bronx-based artist Kenny Rivero. Like ‘Eclipse’, marking Rivero's UK debut. The artist engages narrative images, language and symbolism to re-engineer perceived identities. Born in Washington Heights to Dominican parents, Rivero examines what he perceives as a broken narrative of Dominican American identity.
Sullivan+Strumpf will show works curated by renowned Australian artist Tony Albert and curator Jenn Ellis. ‘Story, Place’ will feature an international group of contemporary artists including Albert, Shiraz Bayjoo, Edgar Calel, Gunybi Ganambarr, Lindy Lee, Naminapu Maymuru-White, Angela Tiatia and Jemima Wyman. The exhibit will place these Indigenous and diasporic voices in dialogue, interrogating relationships with homeland and ancestry.