At FraenkelLAB, Visionary Gallerists Jeffrey Fraenkel and Frish Brandt Expore New Territory
Artist Richard T. Walker stands looking out at New Mexico mountains, his back to the viewer, in his 2015 video work, an is that isn't always. Like nineteenth-century Romantic painter Caspar David Friedrich’s iconic Wanderer above the Sea of Fog, it’s an image of an individual eternally on the threshold, forever watching. Walker’s solo show opens this month at FraenkelLAB, the new gallery from Jeffrey Fraenkel and Frish Brandt, and embodies the spirit of the venture. Building on 36 years of pioneering photography exhibitions at blue-chip Fraenkel Gallery in Union Square, Fraenkel and Brandt have launched FraenkelLAB as a venue for, in their words, “adventurous new work in any medium.”
The Lab opened in April with the inaugural exhibition “Home Improvements,” curated by John Waters, a provocative group show showcasing artists Vincent Fecteau, Karin Sander, Gedi Sibony, Lily van der Stokker, George Stoll, Vienna-based art group gelitin and others working across a range of media. “The impetus for FraenkelLAB begins with our ongoing search-and-discover of artists in various media,” says Brandt. “It’s a place for experimentation for us, as well as the artists.”
The Lab’s second exhibition showcases the British-born, San Francisco–based Walker, whose work incorporates neon sculpture, light box installations, photographic collages and single-channel video. The gallery notes that in an is that isn’t always, the artist is “recording his thoughts about how to begin to comprehend the expansive space of his surroundings.” Walker is known for his visual and sonic exploration of natural landscapes, and for transforming them into psychological territory, into literal headlands. “We have been following his work for two years,” says Brandt, noting that Walker’s multimedia practice—and local presence—make him the perfect fit for their first solo exhibition.
Sited on Market Street, the 1,200-square-foot Lab is about 10 short steps from Zuni Café, which opened in 1979, the same year as Fraenkel Gallery. And, while its new venue begins its exploration, the “mothership,”as Brandt refers to the main gallery—will continue to build on its own legacy of groundbreaking photographic exhibit, presenting the global premiere of “Christian Marclay: Six New Animations” through June 25. Marclay’s series of flickering videos depict urban detritus, directing the viewer’s gaze to a less Romantic landscape, but one that covers fascinating new ground.
A version of this article appeared in the June/July 2016 issue of SFC&G (San Francisco Cottages & Gardens) with the headline: Mapping the Future.