Frieze Masters 2015

October 14, 2015 - October 18, 2015

Ubu Gallery was pleased to present Erotica at Frieze Masters 2015, Booth F10, Regent’s Park, London.

Irrespective of our differences over what is appropriate or permissible, eroticism is a fixture in society’s every day, whether explicitly or through subtle undertones. Deriving from the Greek concept of “eros,” eroticism encompasses a broad range of meanings, including a physiological and psychological dimension. As seen in the visual arts, representations of eroticism not only confront sexual desires, but also the metaphysical battle of the body versus mind, emotions versus reason.

A protagonist in Western art history, eroticism’s significance and influence changed with the 20th century avant-garde movements. During the inter-war period, eroticism was a powerful tool wielded by the Dadaists, who used it to disrupt order and threaten the balance in society. Advances in psychology and science led to further explorations with the Surrealists, who explored the unprecedented territory of the unconscious and their personal desires.

Influenced by the Freudian notion that sexual instinct was fundamental to the development of the psyche, the Surrealists saw erotic desire as important to self-awareness and the representation of desire as a vehicle to tap into or reflect the sub- and unconscious. No subject matter was too extreme to be excluded, censored or ignored by the Surrealists. In their investigation, they drew little distinction between private and public domains, raising issues that remain at the fore of consideration in contemporary art and culture.

This presentation included a small selection of ancient works, as well as a larger selection of Shunga, erotica – part titillation, part instruction manual – widely in circulation in Japan between 1600 and 1900. The purpose was to expose the affinities between “old” and “new” art and in particular, the little known, but clearly overt, influence of Shunga on Surrealism.


Hans Bellmer, Janusz Maria Brzeski, Otto Dix, Dorothea Tanning, Marcel Duchamp, István Farkas, George Grosz, Georges Hugnet, Katsushika Hokusai, Marcel Mariën, Max Ernst, Pierre Molinier, Jindřich Štyrský