Showing posts with label ARCO. Show all posts
Showing posts with label ARCO. Show all posts

ARCOMadrid 2023

March 09, 2023

ARCO, Madrid's premier contemporary art fair, has recently wrapped up its 42nd edition with an impressive turnout of 93,000 visitors, 211 galleries from 36 countries represented and an exciting new section dedicated to the Mediterranean art scene. This article will take a closer look at some of the standout works and artists from ARCO 2023.

The Mediterranean: A Round Sea program has been an exceptional initiative with artworks from 19 galleries from the region. Curated by Marina Fokidis, the program has sought to explore a collective identity and to facilitate dialogue between different points of the Mediterranean. The space, designed by architect du jour Andres Jaque, has wonderfully served the purpose with an agora-like central seating area, where visitors could gather and relax. Interestingly, this space was one of the few available to visitors at the fair, as the main seating area was by invitation only.

Highlights at the Mediterranean section included some powerful artworks by the multi-talented Semiha Berksoy (Istanbul, 1910-2004) and Sanja Iveković (Zagreb, 1949). Berksoy –an opera singer, actress, performance artist, poet, and painter– was a creative force whose approach to art was inseparable from her life, while Iveković's artistic practice includes photography, sculpture, performance, and installation, with a strong focus on gender, identity, and political issues. In her featured artwork The Right One (The Pearls of the Revolution), Iveković reflects on the gendered power structures that exist within political movements. 

Semiha Berksoy, My Mother Playing the Oud, 1958 (left)Family, Zeliha Berksoy, Yıldırım Aktuna, Oğul Aktun, 1972 (right) | Galerist Istanbul

Sanja Iveković, The Right One (The Pearls of the Revolution), 2007-2011 | 1 Mira Madrid

Another highlight at the Mediterranean section was Treasures by Berlin-based Silvina Der Meguerditchian (Buenos Aires, 1967), a beautiful mixed media installation, partly presented on the wall and partly inside a vintage table-vitrine. The artwork consisted of a notebook with a collection of Armenian folk health remedies that the artist inherited from her great-grandmother, and of objects that are building on the book like plants and seeds. The installation raises questions about issues of displacement, personal and collective memory, and healing processes. Der Merguerditchian is also the artistic director of the Houshamadyan project, an open digital archive reconstructing Ottoman Armenian village life.

Silvina Der Merguerditchian, detail from the series Treasures, 2015 | Kalfayan Gallery Athens

Two artworks in particular have left me pondering after my visit to ARCO 2023: Happy Places (2006-2014) by Sven Johne (Rügen, 1976) and Blowback / The Power by Teresa Margolles (Culiacán, Sinaloa, 1963).

Happy Places (2006-2014) is a sleek artwork that explores the topic of happiness through a collection of photographs and a supporting text. The artwork features a series of photos showcasing various islands for sale in Vanuatu, a South Pacific Island state. The text tells the story of how the artist, inspired by Vanuatu's top ranking at the Happy Planet Index, placed an ad in a local newspaper to learn more about the happiness of the people in Vanuatu. He eventually got the following response: “Hi Sven, you know what? 80 percent of our population can manage without money. Most people do not have money all year round. They still live their lives as successfully as anyone else. Money is not everything in life. Land is our life. Land is mother to us. Land provides us with life. Happy to help, Willie.” Years later, the artist found out that ten of the 83 islands in Vanuatu were up for sale.

Sven Johne, Happy Places (2006-2014), 2014 | Klemm's Berlin

Johne is a remarkable storyteller who captured my attention with his previous work, Heroes of Labour, four years ago. Klemm's gallery displayed other works by Johne including the 15-minute video On Vanishing, a captivating narration of an eleven-year-old about the island of Rügen and her ancestors there.

Blowback/The Power by Teresa Margolles is a reflection on societies where human life is deemed dispensable and the display of ill-gotten wealth is celebrated. The artwork features a glamorous evening dress reminiscent of those worn by young beauty pageant contestants in Mexico. While such dress is associated with power, Margolles warns that in reality it endangers beauty queens to fall prey to the drug cartel. The bejewelled right sleeve is a powerful symbol of this concern, as each gem is, in fact, a piece of broken glass collected by Margolles after a cartel-related shooting.

Teresa Margolles, Blowback / The Power, 2022 | Galerie Peter Kilchmann Zurich

Other artworks exploring pressing issues facing our society today included those by Alicia Framis (Barcelona, 1967) and Šejla Kamerić (Sarajevo, 1976). Framis reflects on invisible glass ceilings and veneration with Once Upon a Time There was a Woman (MALI), while Kamerić denounces prejudices and war crimes against women with her piece Bosnian Girl.

Alicia Framis, Once Upon a Time There was a Woman (Mali), 2023, Galeria Juana de Aizpuru Madrid | Šejla Kamerić, Bosnian Girl, 2007, Eugster Belgrade


The fair has seen powerful stories conveyed through photography –see blow. Ayrson Heráclito's (Macaúbas, Bahia, 1968) wonderful shots reflecting on Afro-Bahian cultural issues have possibly contributed to earn HOA Gallery the best booth award in the Opening section dedicated to young galleries. Teresa Margolles has further documented violence with 21 photographs of small altars that honor victims of violence who have died along a 40-km stretch of road controlled by various criminal groups. Jorge Fuembuena (Zaragoza, 1979) equally documents violence with a recreation of Goya's notorious painting The Third of May 1808, while Dario Villalba (San Sebastian, 1939 - Madrid, 2018) explores homelessness. On a more cheerful note, Monica de Miranda (Porto, 1976) reflects on exploration and new possibilities with Astronaut, and Elger Esser (Stuttgart, 1967) on stillness and tranquillity with the capture of a seascape in soft light.

Ayrson Heráclito, Vodun Agbê I, 2010 | Hoa São Paulo

Teresa Margolles, 40 kilometers, 2014  | Galerie Peter Kilchmann Zurich

Jorge Fuembuena, El 3 de mayo en Madrid, 2021 | Max Estrella Madrid

Monica de Miranda, Astronaut, Path to the Stars, 2022 | Carlos Carvalho Arte Contemporanea Lisbon
Dario Villalba, Homeless | El Mundo
Elger Esser, Beauduc IV, France, 2009 | Galerie Rüdiger Schöttle Munich
ARCO 2023 has seen beautiful sculptures by Antony Gormley (London, 1950) and David Nash (Esher, Surrey, 1945) in cast iron and redwood respectively; a new hanging object by ARCO's regular Tomas Saraceno (San Miguel de Tucuman, 1973); and remarkable relief works by Olafur Eliasson (Copenhagen, 1967), Timo Nasseri (Berlin, 1972) and Pae White (Pasadena, 1963) who has exhibited further works as part of a solo artist project. A popular relief was The Kiss by duo Momu & No Es (Basel, 1982 & Barcelona, 1979), as evidenced by the large crowds gathered in front of the blown-up manga characters hairstyles.

Pae White, Middle Fauna A, 2021 | Neugerriemschneider Berlin

Timo Nasseri, Radiance #1, 2022, Sabrina Amrani Madrid | Sarah Morris, August, 2022, Galeria La Caja Negra Madrid

Antony Gormley, (left to right) Press (Block), 2020; Grasp (Block), 2019; Grasp II (Block), 2019 | Continua San Gimignano

David Nash, Figure Column, 2022 | Lelong Paris

Olafur Eliasson, Dew Solidarity, 2021 & Tomas Saraceno, GI 514 b/M+I, 2022 | Neugerriemschneider Berlin
Momu & No Es., Vesta & Pallas, The Kiss, 2022 | Joey Ramone Rotterdam
Lastly, a selection of paintings that have somehow moved me, either by the quality of the sketches, such as Robert Muntean's (Leoben, 1982) and Maki Na Kamura's (Osaka); by the choice of color by Andreas Breunig (Eberbach, 1983) –see cover, Matt Mullican (Santa Monica, 1951) and Marcus Oehlen (Krefeld, 1956); and by the unusual display of Ad Minoliti's work (Buenos Aires, 1980) that included a mural painted around the artworks.

Markus Oehlen, Untitled, 2021, Galeria Juana de Aizpuru Madrid | Robert Muntean, LJJW, 2020, Galerie Crone Viena

Maki Na Kamura, (unknown title), 2023 | Contemporary Fine Arts Berlin

Matt Mullican, Signs in the Elements of that Body (smell), 2018 | Cristina Guerra Contemporary Art Lisbon

Ad Minoliti, Tuiti, 2022; Space Cat Cafe Series, 2022; Galactic Gatoteca (mural), 2022 | Peres Projects Berlin

ARCO International Contemporary Art Fair | Madrid, 22-26 February 2023
| IFEMA Madrid Halls 7 & 9 

Previous Articles
Featured Artists
Sarah Morris 
Šejla Kamerić
Silvina Der Meguerditchian 
Sven Johne

by PS, ARCO and featured galleries. Cover picture Untitled (2023) by Andreas Breunig at Galerie Bärbel Grässlin Frankfurt

ARCOMadrid 2022

February 25, 2022

ARCO Madrid contemporary art fair celebrates in 2022 the 40th anniversary it couldn't celebrate last year –due to COVID restrictions– with 185 galleries from 30 countries and a specially curated programme to reflect on the past and future of the fair. This comes in addition to the regular sections for young galleries and Latin American art, and a general programme with 159 national and international galleries.

The General Programme has seen some fun this year with a few galleries featuring site-specific artworks that required visitors' engagement. The Berlin-based Neugerriemschneider gallery has presented two such artworks: Your Accountability of Presence, an installation by Olafur Eliasson that projects shadows of visitors in a wide spectrum of colours, and Falha by Brazilian artist Renata Lucas consisting of a folding floor with modular plywood panels that can be retracted. Eliasson's installation projects beautiful colours and shapes on the wall when there are people in the room but it interestingly shows no colours when the room is empty. 

Olafur Eliasson, Your Accountability of Presence, 2022 | A shared project by Neugerriemschneider Berlin and Elvira González Madrid

Renata Lucas, Falha, 2003/2022; Tomas Saraceno, NY Vir, 2018; Jorge Pardo, Untitled, 2015 | Neugerriemschneider Berlin

There were some extraordinary artworks in the General Programme including large-scale paintings by Martha Jungwirth (b. 1940) on Goya's notorious maja; a three-part painting by Antoni Tàpies (b. 1923) and a recent installation by Christian Boltanski (b. 1944) who died last year.

Martha Jungwirth, Untitled (Maja I), 2021 | Thadaeus Ropac Paris

Antoni Tàpies, Le Repas, 1984 | Galerie Lelong Paris

Christian Boltanski, Petites Ombres, 2021 | Galería Albarrán Bourdais Madrid

Photography has seen remarkable contributions this year with photos of Colombian performance artist Maria Teresa Hincapié (b. 1956) captured during her 8-hour performance at a Bogotá bookshop window in 1989; or of a peaceful coastal enclave by Michael Najjar (b. 1966) meant as a reflection on the drama of climate-induced rising sea levels. Other wonderful photos include the black and white aerial views of traces of the Golf War on the landscape by Sophie Ristehueber (b. 1949) and a photo of a massive sound sculpture by Nik Novak (b. 1981) on the use of sound as a weapon.

Submerged Forest, Rondônia, a photographic map by Richard Mosse (b. 1980) and part of his series Tristes Triptiques –named after Claude Lévi-Strauss's memoir with the same name– captures in a beautifully hued and light way the ecocide in the Brazilian Amazon. The drone-captured map shows land cleared for livestock feed crop cultivation (in turquoise in the picture below), forest flooding for hydropower projects (in dark blue) and forest die-back (in red).

Maria Teresa Hincapié, Vitrina, 1989-2020 | Galeria 1 Mira Madrid

Sophie Ristelhueber, Fait #61 and Fait #45, 1992 | Galerie Poggi Paris

Michael Najjar, Rising Seas, 2021 | Galería Juan Silio Santander

Nik Novak, The Mantis #3, 2019 | Alexander Levy Berlin

Richard Mosse, Submerged Forest, Rondônia, 2020 | Galería Carlier Gebauer Madrid

Interesting 3D artworks include Iman Issa's (b. 1979) serene wall sculptures with incongruent texts –like the one accompanying Self portrait that reads: Self as Alenka Zupančič who recounted the joke: "There are no cannibals here. We ate the last one yesterday"; Pasta, a spaghetti sphere by Victor Esther G (b. 1976); and the simple and bold objects by Jimena Kato (b. 1979).

Bahamian artist Tavares Strachan (b. 1979) has exhibited a tondo that honours Kojo Tavalou Houénou, a 1920s prominent critic of the French colonialism in Africa, and is part of Strachan's work on finding invisible people of colour from history and reinserting them into a narrative. Sheila Hicks (b. 1934) has shown lovely wall-mounted textiles and Ángela de la Cruz (b. 1965), the London-based Turner Prize-nominee widely represented in the current ARCO edition, monochromatic deformed stretchers

Among the 2D artworks stand Jessica Rankin's (b. 1971) embroidered painted landscapes and a glittering polyurethane on aluminium painting by the Brussel-based duo mentalKLINIK.

Jessica Rankin, Rain Dreamed from Sounds (THKC), 2021 & Iman Issa, Self portrait (Self as Alenka Zupančič), 2020 | Galería Carlier Gebauer Madrid

Sheila Hicks, Hyperion, 2021, Galerie Nächst St Stephan RS Vienna | Tavares Strachan, Kojo, 2021, Perrotin Paris

Victor Esther G, Pasta, 2021, Galería ATM Gijón | Jimena Kato, Untitled (Buble), 2019; Transfusion Syndrom #01, 2021; Dream Catcher, 2021, Rodriguez Gallery Poznan

Ángela de la Cruz, Loop L (Yellow), 2021, Thomas Schulte Berlin | mentalKLINIK, Disgustingly Awful Paintings 2102, 2021, Sabrina Amrani Madrid

Opening, the curated programme for young galleries, has brought together 15 galleries from 10 countries. Highlights include the site-specific artwork by Rio de Janeiro artist Manoela Medeiros (b. 1991) who has applied her excavating practice to create two wall cut outs at the booth; Dritton Selmani's (b. 1987) use of plastic bags in Love Letters as a medium for writing deep reflections; and a series of patched sketches by fashion designer/artist Susan Cianciolo (b. 1969). Pristina-based Selmani views plastic bags not as disposable items but as ideal carriers of memorable reflections due to their ultra-long lifespan.


Driton Selmani, Love Letters, 2021 | Eugster Belgrade

Susan Cianciolo, I Saw the Circle, 2022, Cibrían San Sebastian | Manoela Medeiros, ARCO site specific installation, 2022, Double V Marseille

El País has commissioned this year Daily Menu(s), an installation by multimedia artist Concha Jerez (b. 1941) made with half a dozen tables arranged in a circle. Each table is set with tableware full of shards and a screen showing mediocre content. The artist reflects on random media consumerism but also on censorship in social media. 

Concha Jerez, Menú(s) de Día, 2022 | El País Space

The commemorative section ARCO 40+1 partly happens around a space organised like a museum, with several tiny subspaces allocated to galleries that have somehow been central to the fair. Altogether 20 national and international galleries have contributed with artworks from the likes of Mario Merz and Mona Hatoum. The project description in paper made sense, yet the physical experience didn't quite match the script, at least for me. The gallery spaces were crammed, with exhibits hardly fitting in, and the artworks –although of great quality– felt randomly selected. In this context, Karin Sander's (b. l957) simple and uncluttered artwork made of fresh vegetables pointing at the passage of time (see cover picture), was doubly appreciated.

Lastly, superb short film presented by Daniel Canogar (b. 1964) at Forum –ARCO's space for talks and debates– on Dynamo, his installation for the Spanish Pavillion at the Expo Dubai 2020. The artwork is made of a continuous screen morphed into a giant intertwined loop and shows sensor-induced light compositions supported by matching sounds and ambient lighting. Canogar spoke about his fascination with the technological sublime and how the public's energy feeds Dynamo, his most significant artwork so far, he said.

Daniel Canogar, Dynamo (2021), Spanish Pavillion Expo Dubai 2020. Photo ©Studio Daniel Canogar

ARCOMadrid 2023 will include the programme "Mediterranean: A Round Sea" by curator Marina Fokidis with artists and galleries from surrounding countries.

ARCO International Contemporary Art Fair | Madrid, 23-27 February 2022
| IFEMA Madrid Halls 7 & 9 

Previous Articles 
Featured Artists
by PS unless otherwise stated. Cover picture Kitchen Pieces by Karin Sander at Helga de Alvear Gallery
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