Part of a wave of immersive art experiences seen in London that have included those on Van Gogh and Frida Kahlo, Frameless is the first to reside permanently in the capital. Featuring four galleries of various artists, themes and quality, Frameless is both excitingly intense and intellectually bereft. You leave with plenty of pictures and having enjoyed yourself, but little else.
The galleries are all themed around different artistic “groups”, covering vague movements such as ‘surrealism’ and ‘abstract art’ in order to include the largest range of art possible. Beyond Reality features surrealist delights projected around the space, whilst Colour In Motion allows visitors to kick up brushstrokes like autumn leaves. These are the most successful of the four, the audience interaction proving a hit with all ages and the projections breath-taking. The multidimensional feeling of the space turns the venue into a kind of artistic planetarium, and you feel fully sucked inside the colourful joy of the paintings. The World Around Us focuses more on placing the audience inside landscapes with varying results (the evocation of the natural world more successful than that of Italian piazzas, for instance), while, although the Art of Abstraction promises a freewheeling maze, it is instead some screens and some jazz.
Emotionally the exhibit is highly successful. The emphasis is on providing good opportunities for taking pictures rather than informing patrons of the context of the paintings, and this almost total decontextualization feels like a noticeable gap, especially when you are offered context for a high premium through books in the gift shop. Likewise, the sheer range of art covered means some paintings rub awkwardly up against one another: it is difficult to create immersion out of a still life of flowers or a self-portrait, and these less successful projections undermine those that offer wide canvases and world building. Ironically, unlike a traditional gallery the closer you get to the paintings the less detail they have to offer, and as some of these paintings can be seen for free in full splendour in various London galleries it feels like a bit of a cheat. Frameless is then best enjoyed from a distance, or especially as an introduction to art for kids: or if you fancy a fun Instagram photo.
Frameless does what it sets out to do, and does it well, offering a new way into artistic masterpieces for its audience as well as some fun and inventive photo opportunities, despite feeling a touch uneven. However it’s unlikely you’ll come away feeling enriched and for tickets that can run as high as £55, it feels a little lacking.
Reviewed on 7 October 2022