ARCOmadrid celebrates its 35th anniversary with a look into the past, the present and the future of the art fair

By Aina Pomar - Monday, February 22, 2016

2016 marks an exceptional year for ARCOmadrid, the international art fair organised every February in the capital of Spain, as it reaches its 35th anniversary. To celebrate this important event, running from the 24th to 28th February, IFEMA has prepared a fair with a special programme and keeping the sections that have contributed to create the identity of ARCO.

ARCOmadrid celebrates its 35th anniversary with a look into the past, the present and the future of the art fair

2016 marks an exceptional year for ARCOmadrid, the international art fair organised every February in the capital of Spain, as it reaches its 35th anniversary. To celebrate this important event, running from the 24th to 28th February, IFEMA has prepared a fair with a special programme and keeping the sections that have contributed to create the identity of ARCO.

The most significant difference regarding previous editions is that, for the first time in over 20 years, ARCO 2016 won’t have a guest country. Instead, the organisers will focus on the development of these thirty-five years, paying tribute to all the galleries and personalities that have contributed to consolidate ARCO as a major art fair.

Curators María and Lorena de Corral, Catalina Lozano and Aaron Moulton have selected thirty-five galleries that are part of the history of ARCO in a way or another. They will contribute to create the section ‘Imagining other Futures’, which will complement the 169 galleries included in the General Programme, by bringing two artists to create a dialogue in each booth, a format that has worked well in previous editions.

With a remarkable presence of foreign countries, the galleries in this section stand out for its quality and attachment to the art fair. Carlos Urroz, director of ARCOmadrid, shows enthusiasm towards all of them: “For me all the galleries are equal and have the same importance. Perhaps I would point out the presence of Juana de Aizpuru, the founder of ARCO and the only Spanish gallery participating in the 35th anniversary section. We admire all the galleries that come back to the art fair, some of them after maybe fifteen years, from Lisson (London), Thaddaeus Ropac (Paris), Giorgio Persano (Turin), 1900-2000 (Paris), Denise René (Paris), Kurimanzutto (México DF), Fortes Vilaça (São Paulo), Marian Goodman (London)”.

Yves Klein, Galería Cayón, Madrid 2015 © Yves Klein, ADAGP, Paris / VEGAP, Madrid, 2015 Photo © David Bordes. PROGRAMA GENERAL + 35 ANIVERSARIO

Complementing ‘Imagining other Futures’ and as an alternative programme to the guest country, the art fair also dedicates a special programme to its own home, Madrid. Through the project ‘Year35. Madrid’, curated by Javier Hontoria, several museums and institutions across the city will host contemporary art exhibitions. Many of these spaces, such as the Museum of Romanticism and the Maritime Museum, are not usually dedicated to contemporary art and will have the chance to attract broader audiences this week.

The attraction of international galleries and collectors is an aspect in which ARCOmadrid has been very focused in the last years. In this sense, they have made the most of their potential to reinforce their connections with Latin America. When asked if he considers ARCO as the meeting place for Latin American art in Europe he gives an assertive answer: “Absolutely. I believe that ARCO is the entrance to Europe for Latin American art. Besides having over fifty Latin American galleries, we organise the Conference of European and Latin American Museums in partnership with the Reina Sofía Museum (Madrid) and the MASP (São Paulo), offering the Latin American art critics the opportunity to establish relationships with European institutions”.

Donelle Woolford, Nite Life (for Joseph Stella), 2015. Scrap wood on canvas, 43 x 30 cm. Galerie Martin Janda. PROGRAMA GENERAL + 35 ANIVERSARIO

The Spanish art fair is in fact expanding its borders to Portugal, presenting from the 26th to 29th May 2016 ARCOlisbon. The organisers will explore with this sister art fair a different format, much smaller, with forty galleries. Hosted in the historic place of the Fábrica Nacional da Cordoaria, ARCOlisbon will have the usual programme for critics and collectors and will offer to the public an alternative experience to the one that visitors may have when attending bigger fairs.

Besides the new sections and international expansion, ARCOmadrid presents once again its most solid programmes, a lot of which linked to its special relationship with collectors. Along with the invitation of emblematic collectors, there has been an online course on collecting, promoted by ARCO Foundation, as well as the annual “A” Awards for Collecting. Possibly as a consequence of not having a guest country, in this year’s edition, the “A” awards have reached broader cities and countries like Qatar, Torino and Miami.

Cícero Alves dos Santos - Véio, Pisou na bola, 2014. Acrylic on wood. 103 x 42 x 40 cm © João Liberto. Galeria Estação. SOLO PROJECTS section.

The Solo projects will keep the same wavelength initiated last year, being articulated under two themes: ‘Art at the intersection with time, in the fields of theatre, music and dance’ and ‘Subversion through humour’. The directors of this section, Irene Hofmann and Lucía Sanromán, and the curators Maria de Pontes and Ruth Estévez, have selected artists such as Carlos Leppe, Camel Collective, Mercedes Azpilicueta or Erika Ordosgoitti.

Young galleries like Carlos/Ishikawa, Daniel Marzona and Michael Jon will be part of the section Opening, dedicated to emerging art. Nineteen galleries have been selected for this programme curated by Juan Canela and Chris Sharp with the presence of Agustina Ferreyra, Sabot, Samy Abraham Joseph Tang or Proyectos Ultravioleta.

Graham Wilson, Natural Motion (What Goes Around...). Oil, pigment, charcoal, paintscrapings, canvas. Cm 228x1000. Courtesy: Brand New Gallery and the artist. Brand New Gallery. OPENING section.

Despite some difficult years for the Spanish arts and culture, the 35th edition of ARCOmadrid has brought an optimistic atmosphere among the organisers. Besides the presence of international galleries, Urroz explains that some institutions like the Reina Sofía Museum and the Sorigué Foundation have confirmed their attendance and their intention to buy.

With a strong confidence in the integrity of the art fair and an optimistic projection towards the future, Urroz understands this edition as the culmination of ARCO’s search for an identity, defining itself as “a meeting place for artists and galleries, as well as for museums and art critics; as a discovery art fair, where the galleries bring their new artists; and as a an art fair for new collecting, with guests from Latin America and areas with less collecting tradition that find a pleasant place in Madrid to pursue their passion for collecting”.


Jorge Macchi, XYZ, 2012. Video Instalación. Medidas variables. Ruth Benzacar Galeria de Arte. PROGRAMA GENERAL + 35 ANIVERSARIO

Image above: Carlos Urroz Portrait, courtesy Pickles PR

Aina Pomar graduated in Sociology and Photography before completing a Master in New Media Art Curatorship. She has collaborated with Fundació Pilar i Joan Miró in Majorca and with CCCBLab and Fundació Foto Colectania in Barcelona. She moved to London to work at the Cultural Office of the Embassy of Spain, where she coordinated visual arts and exhibition projects with the aim of promoting Spanish culture and artists across the United Kingdom. She currently collaborates with various galleries and art projects in London.

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