in Frieze | 04 DEC 19

Focus LA: Charlie James Gallery

Charlie James talks to us about LA's local art scene and emerging artists, and their solo presentation of Gabriella Sanchez at Frieze Los Angeles 2020

in Frieze | 04 DEC 19

You are based in Chinatown in Los Angeles. Can you tell us more about the local art scene?

Chinatown has a long history as a gallery neighbourhood in LA, going back to the late '90s. Depending on how one counts, we arrived in Chinatown just past the peak of the second wave of galleries in the neighbourhood. In the very beginning there was real grit in Chinatown, but then as it usually happens, the scene grew and then settled into being a much-loved gallery zone. Chinatown makes a great location, rent is inexpensive and the gallery is located on a pedestrian street; we’re in the original Peres Projects space, in my view the best space in the neighbourhood, and it affords us a lot of flexibility. We have stayed here against the better judgement of the LA art world, and we have prospered. We won’t be in Chinatown forever, but we love it here - that’s for sure!

Gabriella Sanchez, Suitable, 2019, Acrylic, oil stick, graphite, oil pastel, archival pigment prints on canvas, 72 x 48 inches. Courtesy of the artist and Charlie James Gallery, Los Angeles. Photo: Michael Underwood

This will be your first participation at Frieze. What will you be presenting at Focus LA?
For Frieze LA 2020, Gabriella Sanchez will present a suite of new paintings that advance her exploration of the threshold space between cultures - between the Mexican and the American, between the ‘us’ and ‘them’, between the main and the margins.  Gabriella is one of our most exciting young artists, and she will be working on a backlot project at the studio as well, in conjunction with the fair.

As a gallery focused on emerging artists, why do you think it’s important for an international art fair to support younger talents and galleries?
Most definitely. All big fairs should do an incubation section, an emerging section, etc.  It’s important for the community in which the fair is happening and it adds tremendous value for collectors as well.

Gabriella Sanchez, Peer / Peer, 2019, Acrylic, oil stick, ink, oil pastel, archival pigment prints on canvas 72 x 72 inches. Courtesy of the artist and Charlie James Gallery, Los Angeles. Photo: Michael Underwood

Recently more and more artists are choosing LA as their base, what makes this city attractive to contemporary artists?
Los Angeles is easier than other cities, like New York. Unfortunately, LA is trying to emulate New York in all possible ways these days and becoming less accessible for artists or for galleries.

Tell us about the gallery’s plans for Frieze Week, which exhibition will be on view at the space during the fair?
At the gallery we will have a solo show with LA-based artist Sandy Rodriguez, who was recently acquired through LACMA’s Art Here and Now program.  We are very excited for Frieze Week indeed!

Focus LA is a new section at Frieze Los Angeles 2020, showcasing LA-based galleries aged 15 years or younger. Learn more here. Frieze Los Angeles returns to Paramount Pictures Studios, February 14-16, 2020. 

To stay up to date with the fair's latest news, sign up to our newsletter and follow @friezeartfair on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.