I'm lucky to have been able to collaborate with the uber talented Cuban-Spanish artist and photographer Franger Jacobo. All my portraits were taken by him -the rest of the images were taken by me- and I'm glad that he was able to capture some of my days in sunny and beautiful Madrid.
Although I have been to Madrid many times, it's the first time I have visited ARCO. ARCO is the largest contemporary art fair in Spain, and when I mean large, I must say that I was quite surprised by its size. Composed by two adjoining pavilions with more than 200 exhibiting galleries from all over the world; it took me almost four hours to see it all. Also, this year's focus was on Finland which is a bit of a novelty to me, since I only know a handful of Finnish artists and galleries.
My day started at the 33rd edition of ARCO Madrid around noon, when it's doors opened, and I tried to quickly understand the map and the location of different "anchor" galleries that helped me navigate the maze. Art fairs are killers, both in visual intensity and in feet pain! Overall, I measure the success of my experience in an art fair by the amount of discoveries I make. Also, remember that my purpose is twofold: to learn about new artists and to find pieces made by artists that I already knew about and that my clients can live with and incorporate in their collections and lifestyles. It's the human connection, the emotion that a particular creation triggers in me, plus the aesthetic experience and the concept behind the execution of a piece, what makes a particular artwork a winner.
Among my favorite discoveries are Spanish artist Cristina Lucas, who had a smart video installation piece that showed the silhouettes of dancers moving up and down pols accompanied by a mondrianesque background.
Likewise, Swiss artist Nicolas Grospierre was an amazing discovery: he created a piece called "The Library, never ending wall of books" which showed, through a combination of mirrors and a photograph, infinite rows of books that invited spectators to interact with the piece.
The big "Alhambra Motifs" installation by Scottish artist Lucy McKenzie was a showstopper, in particular for people who, like me, love Moroccan tiles and the variety of patterns that they form. This is a dream of a piece for a daring person who has the fortune to live in a space with high ceilings.
James Clar is another artist who I got to experience for the first time. Despite the fact that he lives in NYC, the only gallery that represents him is Senda, which is based in Barcelona. Clar works with fluorescent light bulbs, creating smart sculptures that come in editions. For example, one of his sculptures is called Nasdaq and another one Bitcoin. Each of the bulbs that form the sculpture have been inscribed with different fluctuations of the market (Nasdaq) or the currency (Bitcoin). This is a piece that is current, marks a historical moment, it's brilliant and also beautiful - irresistible for traders, financiers and even people who love to hate Wall Street.
Erró, an Icelandic artist who painted a variety of canvases as homage to Picasso, also called my attention. Brazilian Tony Camargo was also among my favorites; he is an artist who photographs himself while performing and his work is finalized in vibrant mixed media canvases full of color.
Perhaps I've never seen so many Joanna Vasconcellos pieces together brought from different galleries, the geographical proximity to Portugal definitely helped there. Vasconcello's wall sculptures, which combine woven rope, stones, fringes, pompons, textiles, tiles and traditional Portuguese elements are intense feasts for the eyes.
Visiting ARCO was a very successful experience: I met new galleries, became acquainted with artists that I didn't know anything about and got mesmerized by the clever use of every day objects, mixed media and ordinary resources to create art pieces that are extraordinary. The city was dressed with contemporary art and there were many interesting events and exhibits in different spaces, some of which I'll cover in an upcoming post.