The sculptures of Marsha Pels | Sunday Observer

While much of Frieze New York is devoted to blue-chip companies, the “Frame” section for young galleries contains a very different vibe.

Presentations from galleries such as Dastan, Hannah Hoffman, Lomex, etc. can be found in this section of the fair, which caters to galleries that have been around for 10 years or less. In “Frame”, the bold work shines and can allow artists to be recognized at an early age.

“I love what ‘Frame’ can do for young artists,” said Sophie Mörner, founder and director of Company Gallery in New York and a member of the committee that selects galleries for Frieze.

“That’s why we thought it was important to feature only one artist.” At the company’s stand, two large, eye-catching sculptures by Sweden’s Cajsa von Zeipel were on display.

But Frame is an opportunity to celebrate an artist regardless of age. New York’s Lubov Gallery chose to focus on the works of Marsha Pels, a 72-year-old artist who makes large, visceral sculptures.

When Pels’ work Fallout Necklace (2018) was featured as the only piece in her solo exhibition Solace in Lubov in 2020, it had been eight years since she last exhibited.

The sculpture, a giant aluminum necklace studded with portraits of world leaders instead of gemstones, filled an entire hall in Lubov. Since the show’s success, interest in Pels has resurfaced.

“Before Solace, it had been so long since she exhibited, so I wanted to keep the momentum going,” said Lubov owner and manager Francisco Correa Cordero.

This year, Lubov’s stand presents a trio of works covering a period of 15 years. Correa Cordero described the stand as a “mini-retrospective” that not only provides a long overview of his career, but also the story of his life.

Three works from his “Dead Mother, Dead Cowboy” series, produced between 2006 and 2008, recount a traumatic period in the artist’s life when his mother died. Shortly after, Pels’ boyfriend left her.

Pels will often use clothing as the focal point of his works. One of the works in the series, Ecorche, assembles his mother’s fur coats, on the back of which ten pairs of molded gloves line up like a strange, long ribcage, evoking his mother’s lost touch.

Her boyfriend’s ghost also lives in the items he left behind, namely a motorcycle, combat boots, and a pair of gloves. For Dead Cowboy, Pels once again refashions the clothes to become not just a prop but a replacement body.

A ribcage is added around the frame of the bike, and a spine springs from the handlebars, which then bears a smiling skull, wrapped in a scarf hanging in an eternal wind.

Pels’ memory paradox of his ex is immortalized – he’s always gone, always up for it, but his sight never strays. Instead, it’s as present and solid as the rubber, resin, and steel she fashions for her totem.