Invaluable showcase of a diversity of expressions, people, landscape and visions of the art scene of a foreign culture in an ultramodern, western capital.
It jumped in front of my face with the contrast of previous experiences and the wealth, and wealthy people that you can spot around a place like this. You forgot there is money in art. A lot of it.
Just to set the mood in respect to what I consider my experience, I arrived in London and quite enjoyed the new sight of all these art galleries in the high street. I find myself fascinated by the number of them, meaning the amount of art work that is carried on, and the economy class behind it, supporting its movement, buying and keeping the market a place for artist to shelter.
As with things that you see everyday, these topics tend to loose value, but when seen with an outsider lens, this is of great impact in the presence of creation in the country, support, and social as well as government habits. Is not just the fact of the wealth, but also the practices of what to do with it. Art and culture support the community establishment and identity, not to mention its progression.
Well, seeing the creativity being sold as such a status-giver item, puts it in a stratum that can drive you nuts while thinking on how much the work that you are exhibiting costs!
That is exactly what happened to us. Liverpool based artist Andrew Foulds, and myself put up this project in the fair. The project is a multimedia installation expressing our ideas on the weather and culture. We struggled pricing our work from home, but came to a conclusion once we were being witness of the opening event, with all the expensive dresses passing by and asking us for our names and prices! As I said, wealth in art. Not in me though.
Here, another factor hit me right in the face. People, and I mean several people, asking where I am from, if I work in Mexico, where in Mexico, whether or not I live here or there. It seemed very clear they were interested on finding out about the purity of the folkness of the project they were seeing. Almost as a trend or fashion.
I interpret this as a desire to divert the common westernized and somehow constant westernized art seen in Europe and its branches. To escape from it and appeal to new, hidden expressions.
What might not work of this vision is the fact that countries like Mexico strive to follow a western model, and if these pieces and artists are here, it means that they already live in the old continent, westerning.
From this point a significant discovery occurred as well. In the Latin American Art Fair, you could find only a handful of them Latin American Galleries, mostly from Argentina and Brasil, two of the major cultural exponents of our continent. What you had instead was an assortment of European and New York based Galleries, exhibiting excerpts of cultural expressions in Hispanic America. They were showing the work of some well consolidated individuals, which were sold in the very first night of the fair.
Having a wild guess, during the fair there are also creators exploiting the folk imagery of the Americas, or what Europe thinks the folk imagery is. The truth is that the true unexplored art is there, in the new continent, done by someone that does not think of selling it in London.
In general the fair showed many beautiful paintings, sculpture and people. It also represented a unique opportunity to relate and network. We had the chance to socialize with many interesting characters. I try to include here a small set of photos of what we saw there, well accomplished modern and contemporary Latin American art with a clear bias towards abstract forms, bright and colourful style, coming from the latitude of sunny places.
Thanks to PINTA and the Mexican Embassy for the organization and support!