FIAC is open to galleries from around the world, yet most of the stands are, inevitably, to be taken up by galleries already based in the capital itself, if not in nearby francophone nations (as James Thompson will tell you, that tendency may have to do with some facets of the French character). Whether the French will be receptive or not to the international offerings at this year’s fair – there is certainly scope to travel at FIAC.
When approaching the fair as many shall do, as a gallery-goer, rather than a trader, surely one of the triumphs of such gatherings of contemporary art from around the world is the chance to see artists and galleries from unusual and exotic climes. Though their imperative may still be commercial, their usual programme diluted for European tastes, and the artists they bring may be names that we are accustomed to seeing, for visitors who reside in the capital or in neighboring European cities, this is the chance to crack open the doors onto new territories.
Alfonso Artiaco gallery (Stand : 0.B44), from Italy’s dark heart, Naples, presents an eclectic range of artists, intended to ‘highlight style drift, thematic openings and new frontiers’. Perhaps a badly translated press release – but included in their offerings will be pieces from Ann Veronica Janssens, whose interventions, videos and photographs grasp at the ungraspable, a sentiment carried through in the photographs of Vera Lutter, also to make an appearance at the gallery’s stand this year. Lutter's large-scale camera obscura photographs of cityscapes – mostly New York, where the German-born artist now calls home – sometimes take months to expose. BOMB magazine credits the artist with ‘reinventing photography’. Like Janssens, her works can be viewed as sensitive to time and space, seeking to create an imprint of sensory experience – both speak within depopulated worlds, which will make for interesting viewing at a rambunctious fair.
Representing hard-hitting names from native soils – such as Yael Bartana and Wilhelm Sasnal – to those from further afield – Wolfgang Tillmans – Sommer Contemporary (Stand : 1.F13), based on Tel Aviv’s chic Rothschild Boulevard, is the only gallery from Israel to make an appearance at this year’s fair, reinforcing its importance as one of the country’s leading galleries for contemporary art, and at the same time, denoting its allegiance to the French market. It’s a professional gallery, for sure, dressed to get the collectors champing, but it is also a slice of the small but lively contemporary arts capital of Israel.
Small and lively are words that could also be attributed to Lisbon’s art scene, which has been underrated and has struggled to find its place over the decades. Galeria Cristina Guerra (Stand : 0.C13) makes an appearance at FIAC 2012, for the third time, and the first since 2008. Since its establishment in 2001, the gallery has launched the career of a number of Portuguese artists, including Edgar Martins, João Louro, and João Paulo Feliciano. The gallery’s impressive roster, and Cristina Guerra’s no-nonsense, passionate approach to promoting Portuguese artists outside of Portugal – contextualizing them among the major international names she invites, such as Matt Mullican, Lawrence Weiner, and John Baldessari, whom she also works with – will undoubtedly bring some of the best of Portugal’s current artistic talents.
Amidst the old-school European galleries at FIAC, Galerie Krinzinger, Vienna (Stand : 0.C09), is another one to watch. Founded by Dr Ursula Krinzinger, the gallery was founded in 1971, with a propensity for performance and body-related art, both international and homegrown – having championed artists such as Paul McCarthy, Mike Kelley, Nancy Rubins. They are now working with an expansive stable of younger artists, among them Thomas Zipp and Hans op de Beeck, exhibiting in Paris. The gallery’s genuinely broad approach – their artist-in-residence has a location in Sri Lanka, a country which does not often appear on the arts circuit – should promise something unique for perusers.
Newer internationals with an accumulative amount of buzz include Gaga Contemporary (Stand : 1.H19) from the Roma district of Mexico City – which has surely received a lot of misdirected traffic from errant pop fans – representing a host of young local artists, and which has been applauded by critics for the independent-minded thinking of founder Fernando Mestes.
Also often included in ‘best ofs’, Rodeo, Istanbul (Stand : 1.G09), has been added to hot-lists for the city for its avant-garde, razor-sharp edge. As curator Sylvia Kouvali says, 'my little avant-garde gallery does more than just hang art on the walls.' Other outsiders to look out for are: one of Bushwick’s emerging spaces, C L E A R I N G (Stand : 1.G16) who recently worked with French-born artist Thomas Fougeirol; Kisterem, Budapest (Stand : 1.G15), part of the Association of Hungarian Galleries, a twenty-three-strong cooperative of commercial galleries with the aim of repositioning Hungarian art on an international level; and Glasgow’s UK-facing Mary Mary (Stand : 1.G18), which made the fairly recent transition from artist-run project to commercial enterprise.
(Image on top: Hans Op de Beeck, Writer's Island, 2012, mixed media, 190 x 180 cm; Courtesy Galerie Krinzinger.)