Colombian art is having a moment

The ArtBo fair is just part of a thriving scene in Bogotá

Edwin Monslave, Sala de rehabilitación, 2014. At Artecamara. © Cámara de Comercio de Bogotá/48 por segundo
Edwin Monslave, Sala de rehabilitación, 2014. At Artecamara. © Cámara de Comercio de Bogotá/48 por segundo

A new generation of Colombian artists and curators are benefiting from international exposure as the country’s political crisis recedes; art galleries, foundations and collectors are growing in numbers while its national economy flourishes. Hans Ulrich Obrist called this change the “Colombian milagro [miracle]” during an Art Basel Miami Beach talk back in December 2013. The annual art fair in Bogotá, Artbo (24-27 October), launched ten years ago by the Bogotá Chamber of Commerce, has played a crucial role in galvanising Colombia’s art scene.
The fair has gained momentum since Maria Paz Gaviria, an art historian and daughter of a former Colombian president, took over three years ago. Gallery applications for the fair increased by 30% this year, Gaviria says. But one key ingredient of the fair’s success, she explains, is that it has frozen its size while offering a platform for new international art galleries and emerging talents. Only 20% of the 65 galleries in its main section are from Colombia, and while they tend to showcase Latin American artists, the fair features galleries from 30 different cities. Artbo offers a balance between veterans like Galeria Luisa Strina from São Paulo, Leon Tovar from New York and Ruth Benzacar from Buenos Aires, and young art galleries like Revolver from Lima, Mor-Charpentier from Paris, and Diablo Rosso from Panama City.

The younger galleries reported a positive experience at the fair, while returning dealers agreed that this edition was the best so far and that they had met a number of new Colombian collectors. Cristobal Riestra of OMR gallery in Mexico City says that Artbo’s draw is the presence of emerging Latin American art where “you can see very interesting proposals that you can’t see in other fairs”. OMR sold a few pieces at the fair, including a large sculpture by Mexican artist Jose Dávila, Untitled, 2014, for $35,000 to a Bogotá-based collector.

Jorge Pérez, of the Pérez Art Museum, Miami (Pamm), attended the fair this year and told the Colombian newspaper El Tiempo that, “Colombia has the best young artists in the world today”. Perez bought a set of 18 works by the 28-year-old Peruvian artist Iosu Aramburu for $7,000 at 80m2 Livia Benavides gallery. Sources said he reserved other works but sales were not confirmed.

Tanya Barson, the curator of international art at Tate Modern, and Madeleine Grynsztejn, the director of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, also visited the fair this year.

A focal point was the 14 individual artists’ projects in “Proyectos”, as was a section curated by José Roca, the adjunct curator of Latin American Art at Tate Modern, which emphasised the relationship between art and design. Peter Kilchmann Gallery presented the Cuban artist-duo Los Carpinteros: their floor pieces Clavos Torcidos, 2013, sold for €13,000 ($16,000) while an LED portrait, Ángela Merkel, 2013, was reserved to a South American museum for an undisclosed amount.

The Artecámara section brings Colombian artists younger than 40 with no gallery representation to the fair; previous participants include Mateo López and María José Arjona. Over 50 works were shown this year, including a magnificent tree installation by Edwin Monsalve, Sala de rehabilitación, 2014.

However Artbo was not all that Bogotá—a city of 7.6 million inhabitants, 77 museums and over 60 art galleries—had to offer. Although Artbo is the main event in October, dubbed “art month” in the national press, it also boasts four satellite fairs: the four-year-old Odeon; Del Millón, where no work is valued over Ps1m (about $500), Sincronía, back for a second year, and new fair, Barcú.

Los Carpinteros, Clavos Torcidos, 2013. At Peter Kilchmann gallery, Proyectos section. Photo: Mauricio Dueñas Castañeda/EFE/Texcoco Hoy
Los Carpinteros, Clavos Torcidos, 2013. At Peter Kilchmann gallery, Proyectos section. Photo: Mauricio Dueñas Castañeda/EFE/Texcoco Hoy

Source: The Art Newspaper

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