Once again, the foremost international contemporary art fair in Latin America, which has had as many names as years of existence, took place in April. On this occasion, and to the delight of all, the name will remain ZONA MACO. So, what exactly is this event that happens every year in Mexico City to which we have become accustomed to? It is most definitely a cultural and economic phenomenon of Mexican hypermodern society. I wonder if this fair aims to raise the prestige of contemporary Mexican art in the art world, including its market.
The first thing that struck me during my “walk” through the fair was a series of photographs printed with geometric architectures, interventions by artist Carlos Garaicoa, at Black Box Gallery. I also found a work by Gabriel de la Mora, which was exhibited in the previous edition of the Tamayo Biennale. The technique involves creating a plastic texture with black garbage bags, reminiscent of Ad Reinhardt’s black monochromes but with a different feel because of the materials. At the booth of Galería Hilario Galguera, a picture of Daniel Lezama caught my attention for its literary references to the novel Under the Volcano by Malcolm Lowry, which reminded me of European explorers and travellers of 19th century independent Mexico, and which was accompanied by an interesting curatorial text written by Erik Castillo.
The most controversial work of the fair was definitely Gabriel Kuri’s blankets printed with an amplified sales ticket from the airport. Other artists that presented works worth mentioning are Carlos Amorales, Dr. Lakra, the abstract mixed media technique and collage investigation by Marine Huggonier at Max Wigram Gallery, the work of Iñaki Bonillas at OMR Gallery, an unnerving installation by Abraham Cruzvillegas at Kurimanzutto, Santiago Ydañez at GE Gallery and Hiroshi Sugimoto’s photographs.
I also found some very interesting proposals from Black Cowboy, Curro and Poncho, Yautepec Gallery, GAM, Alejandro Sales. It seemed that some of the American, European and Japanese galleries did not bring the most impressive proposals but sought to accomodate to the market bringing small format and rhetorical works, alluding to Mexican culture, and going almost unnoticed. The gallery with the strongest sense of the fair was that of Luis Adelantado Mexico; photographs by Sophie Calle, Morten Sletemeas’ painting with its huge embrace of the figure, the chiaroscuro photography of Oswaldo Ruiz, the conceptual art of Jason Mena, as well as the excellent drawings by Emilio Valdés.
I lived a relevant moment meeting the work of Alberto Gironella. Another major meeting was with the work of Ray Smith. Books by Héctor Falcón enthroned in the presidium of the fair along with the prints of Andy Warhol at Enrique Guerrero Gallery. At Sadie Coles, I found the gem of the fair: a work by the master Josef Albers, Bauhaus professor and author of the most influential book in color theory: Interaction of Color. Some notable absences were the galleries Nina Menocal, Traeger & Pinto and Fifty24MX. While in the publications section, magazines worth a read were Excite and The Tempest. The presence of publishers like Taschen with affordable prices was a pleasant surprise and the presence of the MUAC’s library was definitely the best.
In all, Mexico City experienced an event in an art market in constant growth, that with the alliance of design hotels, galleries, museums, print and electronic publications and a lively artistic dinamic that crosses over to the international, will hopefully become more significant, with continued actions that will remain in both artists and viewers.
Images provided by ZONA MACO