Recently, during the month of April, Mexico City has been the seat of an international contemporary art fair: Zona Maco. Even though the fair has changed its name several times, it has grown to currently become the most successful art fair in Latin America. A great deal of society in Mexico City is always excited by this event. Many artists, collectors and people related to art from abroad come to the city. Parties, dinners and gallery openings are abundant, museums have special events, and bars in Polanco, Roma and Condesa districts, and the historical downtown are full of people talking about art, artists and collectors. Artists, cultural managers and agents, gallerists and curators gather together in order to widen their public relations and magazines publish special issues on contemporary art. Everybody has some kind of fun!
This year I found that I liked many works of art based on delight produced by their aesthetic qualities; always in direct relation to an architectural finishing or to an imaginary flat’s furnishings. It seemed to me that most of the artworks were focused on decoration. I am not against beauty, on the contrary, I believe beauty is one of the fundamental values in order to live… without beauty, we would not have enough strength to go on facing adversities, nor even time of rest, relieve or recreation. I found in many of the works of art a dialogue between uniqueness and multiplicity. Many of them were re-visitations of modernity, adopting an abstract or semi-figurative aesthetics. I liked, and I emphasize a sense of taste to the point of completely subjective good taste, the works of William Córdova at the ARNDT gallery, Jacin Giordano at Sultana gallery, Wolfram Ulrich and Beat Zoderer at the Michael Sturan gallery. Also, in ARNDT a sad installation by Thomas Hirschhorn put my brains to think about what is contemporary art. Is there really a category such as contemporary? Everything seems to fit in it.
At Adriano Pedrosa’s curated section: Lucia Koch at Nara Roesler
A light box with the well known geometric primary color systems of Gabriel Orozco at Kurimanzutto gallery was a pleasure to gaze. At Lisson gallery from London my eye was paying special attention to Daniel Buren and Carmen Herrera’s abstractionisms integrated into the architecture. I really liked Adriano Pedroza’s curated exhibition on women artists, but the painting that fascinated me the most was one by Neo Rauch that depicted an explosion in blue on top of a Bauhaus-like building without any logical connection between them. From this point on, I was having such a good time that I stopped writing down the names, although I remember some. A painting by Iñaki Gracenea was interesting and deserved further contemplation. Moreover, I felt true pleasure in gazing some works by Argentinean artist Tomás Espina at Ignacio Liprandi gallery, who uses fire and gunpowder in the process of making his artwork, creating incomplete mappings of unknown places.
Tomás Espina at Ignacio Liprandi
Boris Groys, a contemporary theorist classifies art in two types: the one that is focused on language and tries to give a message, and the one that deliberately wants to be sold in the market. It seems to me that most of the art exhibited at this art air was to be sold to a private collection; which is logical because an art fair’s vocation is to make the market grow. Art fairs are a good thing for the local scenes for all kinds of art: mainstream, anti-establishment and underground. In fact, much of these artworks are a delight to the eye, making it impossible to ignore. On the other hand, few artists made me think of sociological or political affairs, least philosophical. Among those is the work of Armando de la Garza at the Ginocchio gallery, proposing controversial paintings mixing luxury objects with sex toys in rooms devoid of human presence and full of an indescribable time.
Ornelas + Quirarte, Indoor Construction, at Enrique Guerrero. Image courtesy of Enrique Guerrero.
Francis Alÿs, Untitled, at Enrique Guerrero. Image courtesy of Enrique Guerrero.
For the first time I was interested in a painting by Ornelas + Quirarte at Enrique Guerrero gallery representing a hyperrealist pile of untitled books. At the same gallery I found a painting by Francis Alÿs of urban topic in light colors resembling Miami. A sculpture by M. Pouse simulated intertwined spinal columns making a tree of life like shape: it was a playful experience to interact with this piece. Zona Maco South, dedicated to art world periphery, especially Latin America, contained artworks with a vocation on language, trying to transmit a critical message. Among them, I was amazed by Teresa Margolles’ artwork, which keenly and elegantly talks about violence in Mexico, without presenting a violent work, and that of Marcela Armas’, whose installation brings to mind a modern city’s silhouette elaborated with a hose with oil flowing inside of it. Armas’ piece is polysemic, and it made me reflect on pollution produced by the high quantity of hydrocarbons used and wasted in large cities such as Mexico City.
Marcela Armas at Arroniz. Image courtesy of the artist.
Marcela Armas at Arroniz. Image courtesy of the artist.
One of the most interesting and pleasant parts of this art fair was the new proposals section. One of them stands out: the Fifty24 MX gallery by Upper Playground is focused on the taste of new generations. This gallery, established in the Condesa neighborhood, presented a young art curatorship by Arturo Mizrahi and Liliana Carpinteyro including Japanese artist based in Mexico City Kenta Torii, Mexican artist based in Monterrey René Almanza, American artist Meredith Dittmar and Saner, an underground graffiti artist from Mexico City. Almanza exhibited a large painting of a human male figure and some of his visual alphabet drawings. Dittmar presented odd plexiglas and synthetic clay relieves about spirituality, mathematics, biology and systems. Torii’s work is about cartoonlike portraits depicting past and present iconic objects.
Fifty24 MX gallery Installation View. Image courtesy of Fifty24 MX gallery.
Meredith Dittmar at Fifty24 MX gallery. Image courtesy of Fifty24 MX gallery.
In my opinion, the best part of this event was meeting friends and talking about the artworks while sharing opinions, agreements and disagreements. These massive occasions are a great opportunity to broaden your knowledge and help to reflect upon what is going on in contemporary art, life and style; which makes me realize how privileged I feel to be dedicated to art. I feel happy about my city and I seriously recommend to those people with a hieratic, angry or disgusted face, or those resented, at a gallery or museum to relax, breathe and enjoy the artworks, leaving behind their prejudices and previous knowledge and allow themselves to have a pleasant experience of art and life just as it is presented. Art has already been consumed by our capitalist system, it is almost impossible for art to change the system, as history has proven during the Twentieth Century. Ever since our current mode of production has been settled, art has been a part of the hegemonic Capitalist superstructure. The economic system must change in order for the art system to change. Meanwhile, let’s enjoy our pretty or horrifying decorations that make us think a little beyond!
I feel glad because this art fair experience was not a waste of time at all. I was able to feel sensations that I am particularly interested in like silence, enjoyment and tranquility: ataraxia and acatalepsia. I was not able to feel ecstasy with any work due to the amount of people and lack of time to contemplate the artworks. Art fairs are interesting as long as their commercial vocation is acknowledged; they activate art scenes and impulse the industry. The city becomes lively with contemporary art, and opportunities for dialogue and contact rise everywhere. I think that it is necessary for this art fair to grow in quality and not in size. I think that Mexico City could use, in both public and private sectors, more resources and publicity, for there is definitely still a lot more to see and do in Mexico City for this Twenty-first century.
-Alejandro Sordo Guzmán
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