Art fans, rejoice: arteBA is back for its 2018 edition!
This year’s gallery line-up for arteBA practically covers the entire alphabet, with just four letters, O, F, T, and Y not represented. Yes, there is even an X, standing for the Uruguayan gallery Xippas – just don’t ask me how to pronounce it! To fill in the gaps, we can allocate “O” and “F” to Open Forum, a meeting point for conversations between local and international figures from the art world, “T” to Brazilian gallery Casa Triángulo (Triangle House), and “Y” to Barrio Joven (Young District), to achieve the complete alphabet. Taking place at La Rural from May 24-27, with a VIP preview on the 23rd, the 27th edition of arteBA will host 84 galleries: 39 from Argentina, and the rest from 13 countries across Europe and the Americas.
So, how does one navigate this international address book of over 400 artists?
arteBA, like most contemporary art fairs, is a veritable maze of paintings, sculptures, installations, and performances. Housed inside Palermo’s La Rural expo center, with no parallel walls and two entrances, one on a diagonal and the other around the corner, it’s no surprise that things can get a little confusing. After eight years visiting the fair, I have yet to master a formula for navigating all the sections in an orderly fashion, although returning for a second or third look on another day offers a fresh perspective and the opportunity to reflect on any possible art purchases. (Also, buying tickets for multiple days together reduces the price of subsequent visits.)
Moments after walking in, confident in my game plan, road map in hand in the form of the exhibit guide, the art candy invariably captivates my attention, leading my eyes astray into into the vast labyrinth of booths. My feet follow an erratic path along aisles, in and out of booths, resembling a slo-mo version of the 80’s video game Pac-Man.
New York-based Art critic Jerry Saltz made a humorous video on the topic of navigating an art fair during Frieze New York just over a year ago, and much of what he says can equally apply to arteBA:
You can of course pre-plan your visit, and arteBA’s website is an excellent place to start. With a full catalog of galleries and selected artists’ works, you can begin to create a wishlist of booths to visit and artworks to see.
Rather than attempt to take in arteBA’s main section all in one go, allocating time to some or all of the nine areas covering specific groups and functions is a good idea. If you are planning to buy art and have a limited budget, Barrio Joven, the entry point for young galleries, is a good starting point. The selected works, curated by award winning Miguel Lopez from Costa Rica and Argentine Santiago Villanueva, who won a scholarship this February to work with the curatorial team from London’s Tate Modern offers reasonably priced works from artists early on in their career with great potential. Stage, presented by Argentine curator Ana Maria Battizotti, provides a stepping stone for to galleries less than five years old, some entering the main section of the fair directly for the first time, while others began their arteBA journey in that same Barrio Joven.
Part of an impressive international line up of art experts, Battizotti joins Patrick Sharpenel, Director of Museo del Barrio in New York, together with João Fernandes, of Madrid’s Reina Sofía Museum to present Cabinet, a section featuring modern art from Latin American artists from the 50’s to the 70’s. Jose Luis Blondet, curator for special projects at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) curates the Solo Show section, giving nine selected artists a platform to showcase their work to international institutions and collectors. More information about all the sections, including Performance Box, can be found here.
In addition to all of this, if you are a book lover and are not currently in a position to acquire original works of art, Isla de Ediciones provides an affordable alternative. Its vast array of books specializing in contemporary art, and group table with independent productions, will entice any art lover eager to snag a more affordable piece of the action.
So what is it that draws us to a particular piece of art, or a well curated booth? Even with fair catalogs, curators, and gallerists to guide us, art is still a very personal choice. In my case, it’s rare that an artwork captures my attention without simultaneously provoking a journey in time, space and memory. The End [Action #1], Still #8, and Still #13, 2016, a diptych of two adjacent suns on the horizon from Revolver Gallery, Peru, begs the question “Is it setting or rising?” – even though its title kind of gives it away.
Andrea Canepa’s Todas las calles del año, illustrating, in this case, a kiosco in Moreno, Buenos Aires, from Rosa Santos gallery, Spain, takes my mind wandering to Once, and on a journey to the provincia by train. Isidora Correa’s Correlación #10 (Stone and Porcelain), a delicate work combining porcelain and natural rock, from Patricia Ready gallery in Chile, takes me back to the childhood game of rock, paper, scissors.
Art Basel, the world’s leading contemporary art fair, has chosen Buenos Aires as its first Art Basel Cities Partner. As part of a three-year commitment working with the Buenos Aires government to promote the city’s art to an international audience, arteBA has played a key role in this venture. On Thursday, May 14, arteBA President Alec Oxenford joined the city’s Minister for Culture, Enrique Avogadro, and Art Basel’s Patrick Foret to discuss the importance of private investment in developing the local art scene.
If you are interested starting a collection, or even understanding what it’s all about, New York-based collector Dani Levines will be chatting with Chilean-Mexican Philanthropist and collector and Mercedes Villardel, President of African acquisitions at the Tate Modern on Thursday, May 24 at 6:30 PM as part of Open Forum. There are no price tags on artworks; more often than not, gallerists are not very forthcoming with information. So strike up a conversation! Asking the price is the easiest way to know if what catches your eye is affordable or would require you to sell your car. It’s also a great way to engage with a gallerist, who will be delighted to give you a full run down on the artist’s history and thought process behind a specific piece.
Whatever sparks your interest, make sure your phone’s battery is charged so you can make a digital note of any booth number and gallery. Simply taking a picture of the art won’t help you find it again. Likewise, make sure to keep your own energy levels up by refueling at the numerous eateries inside and outside the fair. And if you are undecided about acquiring an artwork, Chandon is never far away: pondering over a purchase with a glass of bubbly in hand is a great way to make a decision, as well as celebrate a new acquisition.
While weaving a unique personal path through the same art-filled maze, you will notice people disappear in and out of booth after booth, around corners, making u-turns and following their curiosity to whichever art piece beckons them. Like Pac-Man, one’s not likely to reach the end. It’s the journey that matters… especially when it’s filled with beautiful art.
arteBA | La Rural | Av. Sarmiento 2704, Buenos Aires | May 24-27, 2 PM – 9 PM | AR $200 | 50 percent discount for students and pensioners | Advance multi-day purchase, 50 percent discount for Day 2 and 75 percent for Days 3 & 4 | More info; Facebook & Instagram