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Special Edition: ARCO Madrid
by ArtSlant Team


ARCO Madrid 2012

In Madrid. with the ArtSlant Team

The Prado. The Reina Sofía. The Thyssen. From Guernica to Goya, the Spanish capital possesses unimaginable artistic treasures. Add to that the leisurely tapas bars and all-night parties, Madrid’s the perfect spot to indulge in cultural and sensory overload. For one week in February, the crowds of international dealers, collectors, and art-lovers arrive in Madrid to do just that. Oh, and also to buy and sell some art.

ARCO Madrid is a massive affair: over 200 galleries from nearly thirty countries showing works by thousands of artists in two enormous pavilions at the Feria de Madrid. On the other side of the city, there’s also Art Madrid, a more intimate affair, showing primarily Spanish galleries, and in the multi-hued Hotel Silken Puerta de América there’s JustMadrid fair, the freshest and newest fair on the Madrid circuit (this is also THE spot to stay in Madrid, with special themed hotel rooms designed by the likes of Ron Arad and Zaha Hadid). You could knock yourself out with just the fairs’ offerings, not to mention Madrid’s world-class museums, galleries, café-galerias, and all the art found even on the streets here—so our advice is go with the flow, see what you see, and make sure to indulge in food and drinks at every opportunity.

(Tomás Saraceno, Iridescent Planet, 2012, acrylic, LED light, iridescent foil, diameter 115 cm, courtesy of the artist and Andersen's Contemporary, Copenhagen DK)

Perhaps in an effort to reduce cases of serious art-fair-induced overwhelm caused by seeing too many artworks in close quarters at one time, ARCO Madrid this year is putting emphasis on the solo: solo projects and solo shows presented by galleries, as well as the “solo objects” program, where large-scale artworks dynamically frame the spaces of the open plazas in the pavilions. You can’t miss Tomás Saraceno’s floating Iridescent Planet, Jean-Luc Moulène’s modified and metamorphosized Renaults, or Alicia Framis’ enormous stainless steel sphere, Letters to the Sky, which she frames as a “postal service to the afterlife.”

(Lia Chaia, Chorão, 2009-2010, photography, 50cm x 75cm each [dyptich]. Courtesy of Galeria Vermelho, São Paulo.)

For more solamente solo, grab a coffee and seek out the Solo Projects area, a curated group of galleries presenting solo shows by Latin American artists. This is sure to be the best (maybe only?) spot in the fair to examine the oeuvres of the artists in a more curated, considered context, as well as an excellent opportunity to scope out galleries from all over South America, Europe and the US. Make sure to stop by São Paulo-based Galeria Vermelho’s booth, showing photographs and assemblages by Lia Chaia, Lisbon’s Galeria Filomena Soares showing video installations and photographs of favelas and mirrors by Dias & Riedweg, and Bogotá-based gallery Nueveochenta showing Jaime Tarazona’s meditations on the possibilities of the uninhabitable and unbuildable and the artist as architect.

(Jaime Tarazona, Untitled, From the series "Oficina de diseño de arquitectura moderna", 2011, 100 x 70 cms, courtesy of Nueveochenta, Bogotá.)

Stop for a snack of sushi and a beer before tacking the rest of the fair. This year’s “guest country” at ARCO is the Netherlands, so a special focus is on the Dutch scene, with special programming, readings, presentations and screenings. Check out Galerie Diana Stigter, Motive Gallery, Ellen de Bruijne Projects, and absolutely do not miss Gabriel Lester’s incredible shadow installation presented by Galerie Fons Welters. While you wander, be sure to also stop by and say hello to Berlin galleries Klemm’s and Peres Projects, and Los Angeles's Cherry and Martin.

(Gabriel Lester, The Past Catching up with the Present, 2009, Mixed material, Collection Museum Boijmans van Beuningen, Courtesy Galerie Fons Welters, Photo: Gert Jan van Rooij.)

After meandering through the pavilions you’re definitely ready to take a load off your feet, polish off a few cocktails and snag a bite to eat, so hop on the metro or grab a cab back into town. This doesn’t, however, mean that your enjoyment of art has to stop. After ARCO and after dark the art spreads from the fair into the city’s plazas and nightclubs. Each night of the fair at Plaza Callao you can catch screenings of works by Dutch artists, and in Plaza Cibeles, artist Nico Munuera will project a light show on the façade of the stately spires of the Ayuntamiento de Madrid.

(DIAS & RIEDWEG, O Espelho e a Tarde 1, 2011, Ink jet print on Canson Rag Photographic paper, 100 x 150 cm, ed.2/5 + 1 AP. Courtesy of Galeria Filomena Soares.)

And after you’ve relaxed with some food and drink, it’s time to movida like only madrileños can do it. ARCO presents two nights of live music and DJs on Friday and Saturday at Joy Eslava, just a short walk from Cibeles, in the very heart of the city. Friday see Amsterdam-based guitar and drum duo Knalpot, Galician indie band Triángulo de Amor Bizarro, Juha DJ and Planetas DJ, while on Saturday you can catch Argentinean sonic surrealists Cápsula, Madrid’s own krautrockers Lüger (whose music videos are contemporary artworks in their own right), and get spaced out with DJ sets from Machinefabriek and Tomás Fernando Flores. It’s sure to get spicy!

See you in Madrid!

--the ArtSlant Team

TALK OF THE WEEK - Fairs are Great and Everything, But If You're in Madrid, These Are Probably Better.

By Andrew Berardini

So you're probably there, in Madrid, for the art fair.
You quite possibly live there already with a rich and fulfilling cultural life in the Spanish capital, eating lots of tapas and various parts of pigs (like Jamon Jamon Lays potato chips, so porkful in Spain they have to say it twice).

But it's likely if you're reading this, it's because of ARCO, one of the grand old art fairs and one of the most important dates in the Spanish art calendar. The fair is a monster. The professional days are pretty manageable, but Spaniards really love ARCO and though the numbers vary, something like 150,000 people attend the fair (compared to a reported 50-60,000 for Art Basel by way of comparison), so unless you're chained to your booth, you'll probably want to do something else other than the fair whilst you're there as you'll likely be quickly defeated by the crowds.

The Prado of course is probably one of the best museums in the world, with acres of art collected whilst Spain owned half the world. You should probably go if you're not there in Spain all that often.

But there are other things which are highly recommended. You should try not to miss these either. But seriously, it's hard to beat the Prado...

First Stop:

Centro de Arte Dos de Mayo
Gregor Schneider. Punto muerto.
Avda.Constitución, 23-25
Móstoles (Madrid)

(Gregor Schneider, Punto Muerto (Deadlock), Oct. 28 2011 - Feb. 26 2012, CA2M Centro de Arte Dos de Mayo. Courtesy of CA2M.)

It's sort of difficult to get to, but there are somethings that are so awesome you really should just go for it. Rent a taxi, take the metro, whatever. Gregor Schneider makes fantastically strange installations, they are dark funhouses with each space creating its own peculiar and often unsettling fictional tableau. Because they are pretty difficult and expensive, his installation are rare. There will be another art fair next year. But there will not likely be a another Schneider installation anywhere close to where you might actually be.

Second Stop:

Go get some food, a drink, a rioja. People treat seeing art during fairs like some stupid marathon. Really, that's why I'm here writing this. So there's all kinds of stuff you don't have to worry about. Have a drink. I feel like you've earned it.

Third Stop:

MNCARS-Museo Nacional Centro Arte Reina Sofía
Locus Solus. Impresiones de Raymond Roussel.
Plaza Santa Isabel, 52

(Ree Morton, Sister Perpetua's Lie, 1973, installation, 800 x 300cm. Collection Generali Foundation, Vienna. Photo: Joaquín Cortés / Román Lores. Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, 2011.)

This might be one of the best art shows in the world right now. Maybe you think Raymond Roussel is a totally lame writer, or you don't even know who Raymond Roussel is. That's okay, and something you can solve right this second by buying one of his books. Well, he's one of the most beautiful and whimsical writers of the last century. With thoughtful connections to important historical artists (Duchamp, Picabia, Ruppersberg, De Cointet) as well as writers influenced by Roussel (Ashberry, Butor, Cortazar) this exhibition serves to expand and illuminate this strange and important writer.

Fourth Stop:

I think that's enough. It's dark out, you've seen some great art. Eat a long dinner somewhere. If you really have time for one more thing, go the Ballet Russe show at CaixaForum as it too is quite beautiful and worthwhile. But don't worry, sometimes enough is enough.

(Serge Lifar and Alexandra Danilova in Appolon musagete, 1928, showing the first version of costumes designed by Coco Chanel. Photo: Sasha © V&A Images. Courtesy of CaixaForum.)

The more arty bar these last years has been the Bar Cock, cigarette smoke so thick you can't see the other side of the table, the sweetest laughingest, most awesome owners around. For some down and dirty dancing, of the flamenco variety, I like Candela. So go drink too much wine, end up in a strange bar much too late. Dance with a stranger, let yourself get much too sweaty, stay out until dawn. Try not to lose your hotel passkey, but it's okay, they can make a you a new one.

Remember art isn't the bullshit bastinado of wandering around a fair, getting over-saturated with so much visuality you yearn for the comfort of blank white walls. Don’t forget what Allan Kaprow once said, art is life.

--Andrew Berardini

Thank you to all of the art fairs, galleries, organizations, institutions, curators and artists who bring us this Madrid extravaganza.

For more information on our Special Edition packages featuring ArtSlant Insiders and Watchlist for galleries, artists and art services, please contact

Posted by ArtSlant Team on 2/27/12

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