ARCO Madrid 2019. A year of transition
by our correspondent Ludovica Cadario
The 38th edition of Arco Madrid ended a few days ago, it was defined by its own directors and by many art dealers as the best edition in recent years also by selling volumes. It’s been a year of transition, co-directed by Carlos Urroz, who leaves his position as director of Arco after 10 years, and Maribel Lopez who is going to replace him from next year. A changeover that saw participating 203 galleries of which 166 were part of the general program.
Mai 36 from Zurich celebrated the 30 year anniversary since its first participation to Arco in 1989 with an interesting selection of artists such as Jacobo Castellano, Luigi Ghirri and Matt Mullican.
Among the most renowed we should mention Hauser & Wirth with an impressing solo project by Jenny Holzer.
A gallery that distinguished itself and draw media attention was the Italian Galleria Prometeo, with a work of art which was a collaborative effort between Santiago Serra and Eugenio Merino. The artists have conceived an hyper-realistic sculpture of King Felipe VI of Spain that they wanted to sell for 200.000 euros including a special agreement under which the buyer would have needed to burn it down before the end of the year. This booth, as well as the ones next to it, were voluntarily avoided by the Spanish royal family on the day of the inauguration in order to avoid controversies and the risk of having pictures of the king taken next to the sculpture. As things stand nobody has yet decided to buy the artwork.
Speaking of Italian galleries it is also worth mentioning the exhibition of Sérgio Carronha and Nicola Samorì for the Monitor galley in Rome. The Italian artist Chiara Fumai instead was represented by Rosa Santos with an immersive installation that will be also featured in the next Venice Biennale. In Venice is also where we will find again artist Sergio Perego with Galeria etHall. Another remarkable booth was the one of Operativa Arte Contemporanea with an elegant and refined solo project of artist Emiliano Maggi.
The “Diálogos” selection was composed by 13 galleries selected by Catalina Lozano, curator of the Jumex Museum, and Agustín Pérez Rubio, curator of the Berlin Biennale. The aim of the section was to create a dialogue between two artists for each gallery. Brazilian gallery Luisa Strina distinguished itself with the works of Anna Maria Maiolino and Magdalena Jitrik. The “Opening” selection, curated by Tiago de Abreu Pinto and Ilaria Gianni, was centered around 21 young national and international galleries. This section focused on galleries that were less than seven years old and featured Twin Gallery from Madrid, with two of its more known artists, Marla Jacarilla and Manuel Franquelo Giner. Bombon Projects from Barcelona, offered a dynamic and innovative project with the works of Anna Dot and Aldo Urbano.
Certainly impressive and beautiful was the exhibition of Belgian gallery Meessen de Clercq which displayed the sculptures of Peruvian artist Nicolás Lamas, works that linked archaeology with new technologies.
Lamas was also one of the 200 artists from South America featured in the Fair which also had an entire section “Perù en ARCO”, curated by Sharon Lerner, curator of the Museo de Arte de Lima (MALI). She stated that the project, which had as special guest the Peruvian country, was conceived without wanting to portray and represent an “official” national and traditional art, but instead, was one of the possible perspectives on the local artistic production. The most evident characteristic of the section were the recurrent naturalistic and geographical references to the elements of the Andean country. The section, which in the layout of the Fair had the shape of a desert rose, was designed by Peruvian architects Mariana Leguía and Maya Ballén. It was home of 24 Peruvian artists from 15 galleries. What’s important to highlight is that “Perù en ARCO” is what seemed to determine the success of this year’s edition of the Fair, the number of visitors, including professionals and collectors, increased by 8% compared to the previous year and the growth was also due to the big affluence of people coming from South America, motivated by the fact that 29% of the artistic international proposals were in fact coming from Latin America. With Perù as a special guest, Arco strenghtened its position as the meeting point for the cultural exchange between Europe and South America. Even though this success was evident, the idea of having a guest country (which saw Colombia invited in 2015 and Argentina in 2017) has come to an end. The new director has already announced that Arco 2020 will be focusing on the theme “It’s Just a Matter of Time”.