ARCO Lisbon 2022
After three long years, ARCO Lisboa has finally opened its doors again to international collectors. The previous edition took place in 2019, just before the pandemic wreaked havoc on the art fair business. The 5th edition is not only an attractive event to visit but also a solid return to the new normal.
Arco Lisbon location
If you are familiar with ARCO Madrid, you might be surprised by this unique historical vibe. It’s unlike any other contemporary art fair held in convention centers. It took place in the Cordoaria Nacional, a former manufacturing center for the Portuguese navy dating from 1779. This elongated building is supported by sturdy iron pillars and covered by old timber roofs. You can not get lost in the exhibition space, as there are only two aisles – one along the street, the other along with the garden. Large windows allow maximum daylight and air flow naturally without air conditioning. ARCO Lisboa is one of the most relaxing international art fairs I have visited.
Tickets and Free Access
ARCO Lisboa’s main exhibition lasts four days, from 19 to 22 May 2022. It is open to the VIPs and professionals on Thursday and to the general public on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. ARCO Madrid is known for its prestige and ticket prices at the slightly higher end. ARCOLisboa, on the other hand, has an entirely different strategy. It’s very affordable and accessible for all.
ARCO Madrid’s cost halved
The general ticket is priced at 15 EUR, less than half of what ARCO Madrid costs. It would only cost 10 EUR to enter on the event’s last day, and 5 EUR for students and pensioners. Young people aged 18 to 25 could enter on Saturday after 5 pm. Also, the ArtsLibris can be accessed free of charge. It’s an event that welcomes all the art lovers in town.
ARCO Lisbon compared to other fairs
“The organization is really good and it has the advantage to be an easier entry than ARCO Madrid.”
“People tend to buy the last days; in contrary to fairs like Frieze and Basel if you don’t sell the 1st day you are done.”
Cornelis Van Almsick – Gallery Zeller Van Almsick
ARCO Lisbon focuses on Africa
In its previous edition, the curatorial idea behind ARCOLisboa was “Africa in focus” by the independent curator Paula Nascimento. This art fair incorporated five African galleries for the first time. This year, ARCOLisboa focuses again on African art with an almost identical selection but adds four more galleries to its selection.After three years, I was not expecting to travel back in time and see a similar selection and focus. However, it is also understandable for this choice. On the one hand, the Iberian Peninsula has strong links with Africa both in historical and modern times. On the other hand, enormous growth has been observed in the African market in the last few years. It would be a very safe choice to continue the legacy and success of the previous edition. It made me even more curious to see next year’s event!
A chance for Portuguese galleries
“This art fair is excellent for galleries in Portugal that ARCO relaunched the Lisbon edition after the pandemics.
Yet, they could organize and promote personalized collector tours instead of giving just a list to them and have some people guiding them in the art fair.
There is a curation for African art, the focus of the ARCO Lisbon this year. And being selected gives some appreciated advantages. “
Hugo Carvalho – Insofar gallery co-owner
(text on the back of the installation)
ARCO Lisbon stats and numbers
Compared to the last ARCOLisboa, this year, it has featured as many artists (470 artists) and attracted as many visitors (11k visitors). However, there are slightly fewer galleries (65 galleries in 2022 compared to 71 galleries in 2019) and fewer countries (14 countries compared to 17 countries). Understandably, the level of internationality has reduced over the years due to the aftermath of the pandemic. But considering that galleries from the 27 member states in the EU could travel without restrictions, the number of international galleries could be more significant.
ARCO Lisbon needs a VIP system
“Arco Lisboa has been great this year. There is a good quality of visitors, and it’s even increasing yearly. Portugal is becoming super popular with people buying houses there. It is missing what the leading art fairs do with courtesy cards: a VIP system with sponsors.
It is a big Art fair but not a huge one, so you don’t risk having a bad position for your booth. You have no excuse for being ignored.”
Rui Brito – Galeria 111
Pedro A.H Paixão – Rocco and sleeping Dreamers
“They are possibly lacking promotion. There was the impression of emptiness in the first days, but this might be because Portuguese collectors take their time. The all-day buffet might also be an error. Nevertheless, the approach is surprising compared to other fairs.”
Clémence Houdart – 31Project (Paris) Africa + Diaspora
Clémence Houdart and Pocas Pascoal in Front of Epheas Maposa’s painting
An art fair with intimacy
“We are showing at many art fairs. We are now at the same time here in Lisbon, at Drawing Now in Paris, and 1-54 in New York! ARCO Lisbon is great because cozy and intimate. It lets visitors focus on the artist. The place and the organization are excellent. The communication is personalized and receptive. “
Diego Feldman – 193 Gallery
Julia Seibel and Diego Feldman at their booth
Just LX, the other Art event
Just Lx is an off event of ARCO Lisbon. It is the equivalent (and same institution) of Just Mad for ARCO Madrid. Think of it as a remora, the “sharksucker”: The galleries that cannot afford the cost or cannot be selected by the leading Art fair can go there. Furthermore, people work for ARCO and work for them from one year to another. It is an intelligent association between two businesses, and it works as ARCO is leaking collectors seeking opportunities to that place. But don’t be blinded by their pretension of being a “special fair focused on emerging contemporary art”. It is more petite, more amateur, and consequently, the proximity with the exhibitors is higher.