Much has been said about the role of international art fairs, as chequebooks and doors are flung wide open to some of the most revered art collections in the world. Celebrating its 22nd anniversary, ArteBA – Argentina’s premier contemporary art fair – has become an integral part to the nascent commerce of the Latin-American art scene, welcoming collectors, dealers, and all the glamour of the art framework to Buenos Aires during a frenetic long weekend.
A man admires the work of the artist Sclavo at arteBA 2013 at La Rural in Palermo. (Photo: Beatrice Murch)
The vast majority of the thousands of art enthusiasts that descend upon La Rural over the next three days come not with the intention of buying, but to experience work that exists outside of the multinational gallery franchises. Art fairs such as this are crucial elements to the survival of independent galleries whilst simultaneously providing more established institutions an opportunity to flaunt their most prized assets.
The contemporary art gallery Elsi del Río features both paintings and sculptures at arteBA 2013 at (C30). (Photo: Beatrice Murch)
Featuring an eclectic mix of both renowned and emerging galleries – selected by varying committees and curators – arteBA eradicates the choice between global and local, concurrently offering spheres of ‘Latin-American’ art and embracing international artistic landscapes. This constant response and adaptation to the growing needs of its galleries and consumers has contributed to the continued evolution of art in this region.
The artist Elena Damiani occupies the whole Revolver stand (PR8) with her combination of photo collages and looped video. (Photo: Beatrice Murch)
This year, the fair has accentuated its international flavour, introducing the third edition of the U-Turn Project Rooms by Mercedes-Benz, creating a space that explores contemporary art beyond Argentina’s borders. Represented by 12 international galleries, this unique component of the art fair showcases the work of over 20 artists – many of them realising projects specifically for arteBA – the vast majority of which are making their debut on Argentinian soil. Elena Damiani of Revolver (PR8), Peru, displays particularly striking photo collages than can be seen as a reflection on Roland Barthes’ essay ‘Camera Lucida’. Deconstructing the traditional elements of photographic representation, these works challenge the notion of illusion and reality, stripping the content of its original meaning and re-presenting the images with a latent ambiguity that challenge the viewer to search for alternative meanings.
Argentine-born street artist TEC is featured in the Brazilian gallery Choque Cultural (I81). (Photo: Beatrice Murch)
A number of galleries have chosen to focus on solo or two-man shows which contributes to the fairs uncluttered atmosphere. From Brazilian gallery Choque Cultural (I81), Argentine-born street artist TEC is working as an “artist-in-residence” for the weekend, creating site-specific works in his signature style that can be noted for its overwhelming positivity, friendly characters and bright colours. Akin to the work of Jean-Michel Basquait, his paintings were the driving force behind the munequismo movement – one that was extremely influential in capturing the aesthetics and philosophy during the aftermath of the 2001 economic crash. His works on display here, remain as experimental as ever.
Patricio Guillamón has created a unique image – Piquetero Technicolor – which is shown by Centro de Edicion (H80). (Photo: Beatrice Murch)
The exhibition also displays moments of political commentary. At Centro de Edicion (H80), Patricio Guillamón supplants the conventional modes of visualisation, extending the realm of the photographic compass. The ‘outlook’ of his original image – a ‘Piquetero’ – has been left deliberately frustrated as the work is stripped of its earliest meaning and transformed into tiny, intricate circular pixels that bring to mind Thomas Ruff’s ‘Jpegs’ series. Elsewhere Ignacio Valdez (C29 Palatina) and Eduardo Stupia (A4 Jorge Maria La Ruche) present graphic impressions reminiscent of Surrealist ‘automatic’ drawings. These intense renderings are worked and re-worked – scratched, smudged and erased – leaving every trace of the hand etched into the surface.
A detail of one of Eduardo Stupia’s painting presented by Jorge Maria La Ruche gallery in stand A4. (Photo: Beatrice Murch)
These artists represent a small sampling of the work on display at this years ArteBA. Acting as a conduit between Argentine and worldwide art scenes, ArteBA stands as an annual meeting point for key players on the international circuit to come together, positioning this fair firmly in a global context
ArteBA is on daily from 1-9pm until Monday at La Rural, Av. Sarmiento, Palermo. For more information visit www.arteba.org