|Nuria Mora for El País|
Lighthearted, colourful and fresh. ARCO 2012 has been a delightful edition with more galleries than last year and mainly recent works.
This makes you wonder about two things: the current state of the art market and the profile of the target buyer. Galleries loaded with new works from youngish artists means to me sold-out stocks and high sales expectancy. And this can only translate as art market doing well. The target buyer was presumably international since the art works were too new (read risky) for the generally conservative local collector. Proof of this is that interesting young Spanish artists have been brought by non-Spanish galleries.
Very conspicuous at this ARCO edition has been the role of architects, cities and even architecture. Firstly, there were many trained or self-proclaimed architects among the artists (Tomás Saraceno, Ai Weiwei, José Dávila...) and supporters (see video of Norman Foster below). Then, the trending topic seemed to turn around buildings and coloured shapes, not so much so around a social message. Perhaps the life-size sculpture of General Franco in a Cola fridge was meant to be the exception... but no one perceived it as such.
The most interesting spaces for different reasons were El País and Ivorypress. El País has chosen this year to explore the Spanish street art and has invited Nuria Mora, 3ttman and Suso33 among others to perform site installations. The result was a colourful and lively space, more sensual than intellectual and very distanced from the sarcasm generally used by street art elsewhere.
|Papiroflexia by Nuria Mora, 3TTMAN and Trojan TV Wall by Suso33|
Ivorypress, the gallery owned by Norman Foster's wife Elena Ochoa and at Arco for the first time, has set a wonderfully different tone. It has brought amazing names (Anish Kapoor, Anthony Caro, Ai Weiwei...) and obviously great works. Possibly the most distinguished work was "Cuarteto Rebelde" a bespoke piece by Los Carpinteros, the Cuban art collective with studio in Madrid next door to Ivorypress. The most striking work for me though was a 2011 video installation by Michal Rovner. Sadly, no picture of it.
|Cuarteto Rebelde, 2012 by Los Carpinteros|
|Pillars, 2006 by Ai Weiwei. Work behind by Pedro Cabrita Reis|
This is what I meant by the conspicuous role of architects, cities and architecture...
|2011 by Tomás Saraceno|
|Felix Candela, 2011 by José Dávila|
|Philip Johnson Glass House, 2009 by James Welling|
|Lost Year's Words, 2011 by Raúl Hevia|
|Aerial, 2011 by Sachigusa Yasuda|
Interesting the project Desert Cities (2007-09) by Aglaia Konrad. An exploration of city growth in Egypt.
The colourful part
|Bärbel Grässlin & Heinrich Ehrhardt Galleries|
Great works at Project B Gallery, Milan: Dionisio González (also at Ivorypress), Giada Ripa and Greta Alfaro.
|Fall on us, 2011 by Greta Alfaro|
Fall On Us, And Hide Us (excerpt) from greta alfaro on Vimeo.
Cinthya Soto for Galeria Des Pacio, Costa Rica.
Secundino Hernández widely represented at Arco. Below Wimbledon, 2011
Same for Juán Asensio. Below Untitled, 2012, for Galeria Elvira González
Untitled, 2011 by Julian Schnabel at Galeria Soledad Lorenzo
Installation by YlvaOgland. Hoet-Bekaert Gallery
And a tribute by Galerie Lelong to the great Antoni Tapies who passed away a few weeks ago. Jannis Kounellis in the background.
Special guest this year...
ArcoKids has been a first time initiative in collaboration with the Pequeño Deseo Foundation. A space where groups of kids have created a joint work under the guidance of artists.
|Picture by Alda Rojo|
Suggestions for Next Edition
ARCO director Carlos Urroz has done a superb job in turning ARCO into a fun and lively event. The lightness of this year's edition felt just about right as a counter-balance to the gloomy scenario out there. But you wonder if this complacent art can hold in the long run. With 23% unemployment and 22% of the population living below the poverty line, Spain is on the verge of collapse. It would be responsible, nonetheless empathetic, to pick up on this. And not merely to document it but to interact with reality possibly by giving individuals a voice. As Glenn Lowry, director of MoMA, quotes: "The current social circumstances dictate new forms of art". It would be a shame not to use this extraordinary opportunity and the power of art to try and move to a different place.
As for the business model of the art galleries it might have to be revised, just as everything else. This type of art needs to be commissioned. Nothing new, but it requires galleries to go the extra mile.
ARCO International Contemporary Art Fair, Madrid 15 - 19 February 2012
JR and his Inside Out Project
Project B Gallery Milan
Galerie Bärbel Grässlin Frankfurt
Galería Heinrich Ehrhardt Madrid
Pictures by PS unless stated otherwise