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ARCOmadrid: What Constitutes the "Young" and "New"? #FocusFinland's Playful and Melancholy
by ArtSlant Team


In Madrid young is sometimes old, sometimes French, but mostly from Berlin, by Edo Dijksterhuis 

For about two decades now the qualifications “young,” “emerging,” and “new” have functioned as the ultimate buzzwords, inspiring a Pavlovian rustle of checkbooks amongst collectors “buying with their ears.” No wonder art fairs have latched onto the phenomenon by creating special sections dedicated to gallery start-ups. At Frieze it’s called Frame; Art Brussels has Young; Art Rotterdam’s got a New Art Section. And there is, of course, LISTE, the fair designed from the start to showcase the latest trends from the hottest newcomers.

ARCOmadrid was relatively late jumping on the wagon, but since 2010 Opening has managed to establish itself as one of the most interesting sections of the fair. Since 2011, curator Manuel Segade has been responsible for the selection, and for the current edition he has teamed up with Luiza Teixeira de Freitas from Portugal. The recipe is simple: only galleries in operation for seven years or less can apply. Mediagenic experiments are applauded such as Can Altay’s Múltiplos bookshop turned sculpture in 2012 and the fictional gallery installed by Sander Breure and Witte van Hulzen last year. And over the years the focus has shifted from European to more global....  

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Helsinki meets Madrid: John Gayer gets familiar with #FocusFinland

This year, as part of ARCOmadrid’s ongoing quest to promote the best in contemporary art to Spain and the world, the fair set its sights on northern Europe and instated Finland as its guest of honor. Launched in 2011 as part of the fair’s 30th anniversary edition, the ‘Focus’ initiative broadens the art market perspective by highlighting the gallery scenes in various European countries. #FocusFinland stands as the fourth installment. (Previous presentations showcased scenes in Russia, the Netherlands and Turkey.) Not being ones to shy away from a good opportunity, #FocusFinland’’s organizers have put together a program that will ensure the presence of Finnish art will be felt at the fair and beyond it. With the inclusion of a Collateral Program so expansive that it outsizes each of the previous participants’ parallel presentations, Finnish art’s presence will not only be evident across Madrid, it will also continue through the spring.

The idea to feature Finland in this year’s fair developed out of conversations between ARCO director Carlos Urroz, gallery owner Kaj Forsblom and Raija Koli, director of Frame Visual Art Finland. It soon expanded to include Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma curator Leevi Haapala, whose track record includes curating Stressed Beauty for 2010’s Art Paris + guests, as well as #FocusFinland. When questioned on the project’s evolution and his role as curator, Haapala noted that though #FocusFinland generated many new initiatives and collaborations, his prime goal was to present a total picture. It was noticed that ARCO’s board was not fully aware of the variety and depth of Helsinki’s gallery scene and this only served to underscore the need for this approach. So it was decided a series of high profile solo exhibitions would be mounted—one for each gallery plus the Focus Pavilion...

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Elina Brotherus' evocative photographs mix landscape and figuration, referencing both art history and the artist's personal biography. At ARCOmadrid, Ama Gallery features a solo presentation of the Helsinki-based photographer’s work as part of this year's #FocusFinland. ArtSlant’s James Loks skyped with the artist about the “Helsinki School” of photography, “emotional muck,” alienation, and loving Tracey Emin. The glitches are part of the fun... 

James Loks: [painting and photography] connection between landscape. natural beauty + [sublime].

Elina Brotherus: I'm a little bit afraid of the sublime, I think I try to look for less sublime landscapes... Obviously I'm interested in light, but I like these kind of grey rainy day, foggy day, bad weather lights that people wouldn't maybe call sublime... I'm aware of the danger of loving beautiful things, so I'm trying to use things that are less obviously beautiful.

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At The Fairs

Carmen Calvo, Tus ojos, 2012, mixed media, collage, glass, book, 19 x 25 cm; Courtesy of the artist & Galería Benlliure, Valencia. At Art Madrid'14.

Katharina Grosse, Untitled, (2013/8020L), 2013, Acrylic on aluminum, 132 x 93 x 42 cm; Courtesy of the artist and Barbara Gross Galerie, Munich. At ARCOmadrid General Program.

Anna Taratiel, 08+Z serie, diptych, 2013, collage on paper, 40 x 40 cm each; Courtesy of the artist and CIS Art Lodgers, Spain. At Art Madrid'14.

Alexander & Florentine Lamarche-Ovize, La couleur des jours, 2012, installation view (at le Micro-Onde, Vélizy-Villacoublay); Photo ©A.Mole; Courtesy of the artists and Luis Adelantado, Mexico. At ARCOmadrid General Program.



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Posted by ArtSlant Team on 2/19/14

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