Issue 221
September 2021

‘Paula Rego’s most enduring theme is women alone, dealing with their lot’ – Katherine Angel 

In the September issue of frieze, Katherine Angel profiles the irrepressible Paula Rego on the occasion of the painter’s long-overdue major retrospective at Tate Britain, London. Also, Sophie Hughes, Theo Imani, Andrew Maerkle, Vanessa Peterson and Evelyn Taocheng Wang contribute to a dossier on art English and the untranslatable. And Avery Singer answers our questionnaire.

Profile: Katherine Angel on Paula Rego

‘One might wake in the dark, heart pounding, disconcerted by how an apparently simple scene could feel so potent.’ On the occasion of the artist’s largest retrospective to date, at Tate Britain in London, Katherine Angel considers Rego’s powerful, unsettling works and praises a career dedicated to portraying women in all of their complexity and contradiction.

Dossier: English and the Untranslatable

‘A translation can challenge occlusions in the original language’s worldview.’ Sophie Hughes, Theo Imani, Andrew Maerkle, Vanessa Peterson and Evelyn Taocheng Wang reflect on what it means to express yourself in a language that is not your own. 

Also featuring    

Ahead of a major exhibition of her work at Brussel’s WIELS, artist R. H. Quaytman speaks with historian Yve-Alain Bois. Tom McCarthy pens ‘1500 words’ on a recent visit to Danh Vo’s studio and farmhouse in rural Brandenburg. Philomena Epps writes on the rediscovery of female pop artists, considering femininity, plasticity and the body in works by Rosalyn Drexler, Nicola L and Niki de Saint Phalle. And Steve Locke responds to a single work by Mickalene Thomas. 

Columns: Rude Awakenings

Leila Sackur on how Magnus von Horn’s Sweat questions the emotional labour of influencers; So Mayer on two new novels – by Juliet Jacques and Isabel Waidner – that track the legal recognition of transgender people; and Kamayani Sharma on the photojournalists who documented India’s COVID-19 crisis. Plus, Lewis Bush on the political power of photographic archives and Ismail Einashe on Europe’s quarantine boats and the crisis of belonging. 

Subscribe now and explore 30 years of editorial on



From this issue

Philomena Epps traces the transgressive histories of erotic art made by female artists during the sexual revolution 


BY Philomena Epps |

Writers Juliet Jacques and Isabel Waidner recent books track the legal recognition of transgender people in the UK

BY So Mayer |

Ahead of a major new exhibition in Wiels, Belgium, the artist speaks with Yve-Alain Bois about the influence of Antoine Wiertz on her latest body of work

BY Yve-Alain Bois AND R.H. Quaytman |

Translator Sophie Hughes on what might be lost when we translate literature into English

BY Sophie Hughes |

On the occasion of a major exhibition spanning four cities, Steve Locke takes a close look at a new painting by the artist

BY Steve Locke AND Mickalene Thomas |

Theophilus Imani discovers how we might be able to translate images instead of words

BY Theophilus Imani |

A lecturer of multilingual students at Tokyo University of Arts, Andrew Maerkle reflects on how translation of art criticism can be emancipatory

BY Andrew Maerkle |

The artist’s illustrated diary unravels the complexities of learning grammar in English, Dutch, German and Japanese

Jostling cruise ships, migrant dinghies and quarantine boats in the Mediterranean show how much COVID-19 heightened an existing crisis of belonging in Europe

BY Ismail Einashe |

Kamayani Sharma on the tragedies and ethical dilemmas facing photographers and journalists on the subcontinent

BY Kamayani Sharma |

Lewis Bush on the troubling histories of photographic archives as organisations face resignations and revelations about the contents of their collections

BY Lewis Bush |

The painter’s largest retrospective to date, at Tate Britain, cements her place as one of Britain’s most inventive and compelling living artists  

BY Katherine Angel |

This summer, frieze sent novelist Tom McCarthy to Danh Võ’s studio to celebrate the solstice – and the undeniable seductions of the German countryside

BY Tom McCarthy |

At Taymour Grahne Projects, the artist's saturated paintings depict the city’s queer community in the nostalgic afterglow of nightclub life

BY Kevin Brazil |

On the Isle of Bute, the artist uses objects to expose the geology of the 18th-century Mount Stuart House and engage with the Scottish mansion's material history

BY Hettie Judah |

The director’s latest film questions the reality of social media tropes and the boundaries between ‘genuine’ and ‘performed’ in a world of online influencers


BY Leila Sackur |

At the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, the artist presents a suite of paintings in close dialogue with the architecture of the exhibition space

BY Sylvie Fortin |

For her solo exhibition at Triangle – Astérides, Marseille, the Algerian artist has given gallery-goers full access to approximately 5000 of her personal possessions drawing stark contrasts between the movement of goods and people

BY Oriane Durand |

At Goldsmiths Centre for Contemporary Art, the London-based artist’s installation re-appropriates industrial and mass-produced objects, unlocking their numerous connotations

BY Kareem Reid |

At Jean Claude Maier, Frankfurt am Main, the artist samples from institutions that continue to hoard his native country's heritage, connecting the dots between Christianity and the Angolan textile cultures lost to colonial practices

BY Eric Otieno Sumba |

At Botkyrka Konsthall, the Afro-Swedish artist presents new works that combine ethnobotanical research and (self-)care to make innovative use of the Black historical archive

BY Matthew Rana |

At LAYR, Vienna, the Bahamian artist’s hazy horse paintings focus on interspecies relationships within a personal and historical context

BY Francesca Gavin |

The exhibition at Tate Liverpool takes women’s liberation as its basis, leaning on frustratingly narrow definitions to justify connections between Linder and Martine Syms 

BY Lauren Elkin |

At the Institute of Contemporary Art at Virginia Commonwealth University, the artist presents a site-responsive project that looks at the fraught history of post-slavery labour practices across the Virginia countryside

BY Ian Bourland |

Agar has been widely associated with the European avant-garde movement but, as Whitechapel Gallery’s retrospective makes clear, she sought to define no one’s image but her own

BY Juliet Jacques |

For the artist’s first US institutional solo show, at the Museum of Modern Art, Hill presents a series of works that probes the Indigenous economic life of tobacco

BY Caitlin Chaisson |

A survey of the artist's work at Kunsthalle Bern celebrates Geys's desire to challenge the status quo and bring art to masses

BY Kito Nedo |

The artist’s new show at Dundee Contemporary Arts explores the intense physicality of collective sorrow through the body as landscape

BY Tom Jeffreys |

At Sweetwater, Berlin, the artist plays on passé 1980's glamour, sculpturally employing transparent and mirrored surfaces to attract and deflect the gaze

BY Chloe Stead |

At Fondazione Prada, the artist’s site-specific installation plays on puns and cultural icons to debate identify politics through the story of a cartoon bear called Who

BY Ana Vukadin |

At Konrad Fischer Galerie, Berlin, the artist harnesses her voice to explore how sound can sculpt our perceptions of space

BY Sonja-Maria Borstner |

A group show at Richard Saltoun Gallery attempts to disentangle the 20th-century political philosopher's question, exploring perspectives from the individual to the state

BY Aurella Yussuf |

At Participant Inc, the artist presents photographic and video works that reflect on our increased reliance on digital space 

BY Saim Demircan |

At Candice Madey, a presentation of the late artist early works, drawings, paintings and photographs reveals Ellis's meticulous process of reconceptualising his family archive

BY Shiv Kotecha |

An exhibition at Kunstverein, Amsterdam, highlights the artist’s pioneering work with progressive writers of the 1970s and '80s, including Kathy Acker, Constance DeJong and Pati Hill

BY Julia Mullié |

At the Cleveland Museum of Art’s contemporary art outpost, Transformer Station, the artist teams up with a group of teenage curators to present works that celebrate the enthusiasm of childhood artmaking

BY Grant Klarich Johnson |

At the Baltimore Museum of Art, the artist presents three works that challenge the myth of American exceptionalism and reflect on the hard truths of US imperial rule

BY Frances Cathryn |

At Centre d’Art La Panera, Lleida, the artist reflects on our changing relationship to the land through sculptures that disintegrate over time

BY Max Andrews |

At Marisa Newman Projects, the artist presents an installation exploring his first experiences of identifying the self through colour

BY Saul Anton |

At Cooke Latham Gallery, the artist replicates a doctor’s surgery, using mythic creatures as a metaphor for living with polycystic ovary syndrome

BY Jamila Prowse |

At Bel Ami, Los Angeles, the artist’s paintings take a satirical look at the grisly history of American bigotry against US Asian populations

BY Travis Diehl |