Art Fair Madrid
A list of events during ARCO
When is the art fair week in Madrid?
from February 27 to March 3, 2019
Art fair Madrid: The capital of Spain will soon become a prolific hub for art lovers. From contemporary art, emerging art to street art, Madrid has something for everyone. The most artistic week of the year is taking place in Madrid led by ARCO art fair. Just like Venice Biennale or Art Basel, there are many smaller satellite events happening around the same time as the main event. We subjectively list them below, considering our mindset: art in the context of the digital era.
ARCO, the Elder of the art fairs in Madrid
- General public ticket: Wednesday February 27 to Saturday March 2, 40€. Sunday March 3, 30€
- Address: IFEMA, Feria de Madrid. Av. del Partenón, 5
- This year the invited country is Peru
Art Fair Madrid: It’s a high-level international art fair, so you know what to expect: every year it’s the same location, same organizers mostly, and same art galleries. I saw even the same artist and the same series of artwork from another year. But nevertheless, the presentation is as usual, at a professional level. Thanks to the mild sunny weather these days in Madrid, the dry-walls didn’t crack this time (last year there was an issue about that).
Focused on Latin America
Since 1997, ARCO has been encouraging participation from Latin America. Previous guest countries are Mexico (2005), Brazil (2008), Colombia (2015) and Argentina (2017). This year the special program in Peru. Over 23 artists from 15 art galleries from Peru were selected for this special program. You can see Peruvian art, Peruvian colors, textile and food
Seeking young collectors
Besides Peru, ARCO tries to encourage new (and young) collectors. You can buy affordable artworks up to 2019 EUR, online at koyac.net (limited time only). Koyac is a website dedicated to promoting a new generation of collectors. The concept is great, just need more promotion, because it was not promoted inside the venue. Also to me, their tagline is a bit strange. ‘We put leading art collecting at your fingertips’? OK, not very catchy, but why not.
Political art fair
I saw a popular Youtuber and artist Antonio Garcia Villaran, so I said ‘hi’. Afterward, I saw a large crowd following an old guy, I was told that he was a famous Peruvian writer called Mario Vargas Llosa. I was happy that a writer could get this level of exposure and treatment, but I was told he was a politician as well. So I wondered if there are any visual artists politicians. Surprisingly I don’t think there are many. At least not as many as writer-politician. If artists could be more active in public administration, I think it would be very positive. It’s a topic we totally should talk about someday.
Overall impression: Arco gives a chance to the secondary fairs
ARCO this year seems to be a little more conservative than before. You don’t see a lot of electronic art, video art, performance art. Mainly there are paintings, that is a safer choice in the market. But I don’t blame them: art fairs are fairs, events to buy and sell art. You can sell whatever the market demands. But because ARCO is a bit conservative, I think there is a good chance other parallel art fairs can really blossom and grow.
The Drawing Room
- General ticket: 10 Euros
- C/ Hortaleza 87 – 28004 Madrid
- General public: Thursday February 28 to Sunday March 3
Yesterday I went to their preview of the Drawing Room, one of the parallel art fairs located just steps away from the Hybrid Art Fair. The location is great, in the very city center of Madrid. This is the fourth edition of the Drawing Room, gathering 19 galleries. 16 are from Spain and 3 are from abroad.
Yoko Uhoda’s point of view
Because this article is mostly seen by people living outside of Spain, I chose to interview Yoko Uhoda, owner of the eponymous gallery. Here the reasons why, mainly, Yoko chose the Drawing Room:
- The long run: The gallery is pretty young, 5 years old, and in order perhaps to have a chance to access the main art fairs it needs to start with the secondary fairs. This traditionally is how it works.
- Communication: Also because the gallery is young it needs to develop a presence in Europe.
- Madrid: Yoko thinks that the art sphere in Spain is more concentrated in Barcelona and she prefers Madrid’s authenticity
- The theme: about drawing, really suits with the gallery and it has a more specific approach.
- The cost: Totally, including the trip, the organization, the booth, it was around 10 000 Euros for her. This is less than a booth at Arco.
- Return on investments: Because the main goal is to cover the costs, and she represents a confirmed and established artists but also emerging ones, it is a natural choice.
- Intimacy: The fair being small, it is more intimate and human.
Art fair vs selling Art online?
Then I was asking her what was her idea of selling art online. Because the gallery’s website has complete communication. Yoko was telling that her family was traditionally in art and she learned the most from her father. Yoko tried Artsper but because the gallery has no employee the amount of time to spend on it was too high. The gallery being small it brings advantages, like a friendly and trustworthy relationship with the artists. And it suits with the Drawing Room’s vibe. Thank you, Yoko Uhoda and John Franzen, this unusual sincerity was greatly appreciated!
Why not just drawings?
But there was a pending question in my minds. Why the Drawing Room wasn’t just about drawings. There were many sculptures and paintings. One version told that it was because this idea wasn’t a restriction but an invitation that leads to a more diversified curation. In Europe, there is another and more well-known Draw Art Fair, slightly bigger (60 galleries) but their exhibition is just about drawing. It makes sense, a fair is a place for selling, and the chances to sell something not announced at the entrance are lower. You don’t visit a pet shop in order to buy furs!
Warm-hearted & professional team
Great public relation and organization about the event. You were feeling being in an ancient noble court during the opening. We were kindly invited while the other fairs didn’t even know about us. We talked with an employee, Frederic Woolf and he told us that they were very professional, reactive with the team. Newly arrived in Madrid, he was looking for contacts in the Spanish art scene and he was well received.
But there was a problem in the exhibition, that seemed unfair, some wall were set for a correct standard hanging others needed picture rails. So depending on how a gallery was lucky or not, their booth quality was different. And as we all know the presentation influences the sales.
Figurative Drawing fair
The last point, is as we saw, that the success was there, people were effectively buying. And fast. And perhaps they could change the name of the fair, into a narrower niche: the figurative drawing room. Because the red dots, indicating as you know that the artwork was sold, were appearing on the most accessible art for the mind, the most emotional, and they quite knew that already: The artwork chosen to be the cover was from Irene Gonzáles. And at the end of the evening, already most of her art was sold. Other galleries, with some art I would say, more conceptual, more fitting with the contemporary art market would meet some interest but not sales.
URVANITY, the New Comer
- General ticket: 10€
- General public: Friday March 1 to Sunday March 3
- Address: LASEDE del COAM, C/ Hortaleza, 63, 28004 Madrid
Started last year, Urvanity has immediately become as popular as other parallel events during the art fair week in Madrid. It uses the concept of “the new contemporary art” created in Miami and narrows its niche to urban art. I would call the equivalent of easy listening music for art, in opposition to the traditional elitist intellectual contemporary art. It is the urban art market after Banksy.
In its first edition, Urvanity has brought 17 galleries, of which 12 are international. This year, 23 galleries will present at the fair. its curatorial choices are reflecting its contender position and adding a nice flare to the contemporary art fairs during ARCO. That’s what we need!
From the point of view of communication, Urvanity’s communication team has made a strategic move: making a collaboration with WideWalls, one of the most influential online magazines for urban and contemporary art in the English language. From the first edition, its website could draw as much traffic as the Art Madrid or JustMad (respectively 13th and 9th edition). Giving it a bit more time, the good groundwork of communication will pay off and attract more visitors to this evermore emerging fair.
- Ticket: 7€
- Address: Hotel Petit Palace Santa Bárbara, Plaza de Santa Bárbara 10, Madrid
- Friday March 1 to Sunday March 3
The first impression I had was not very positive because the front desk was not the hotel staff. There were some young people, couldn’t find my name on the list. It was a hotel so I expect hotel level organization.
The room is a booth
Anyway, the Hybrid art fair itself is nice as usual. It has a good concept, each hotel room is a booth, occupied by a gallery or an organization. At the very entrance, you see an art activist organization from Ukraine. There are galleries from Kiev, Beijing, Taiwan, Osaka, as well as many from European cities. It was a nice mix of international representation and different kinds of artworks.
The price range is from 1 EUR for a post-card, 20 EUR for a sketch, and to up to 5000 EUR for a larger work… a wide range. Because the fair only costs from 1000 EUR per booth, including accommodation. This is a great deal because just the room itself costs 300 EUR per night at its normal price. So basically you will be attending the fair for free.
Artists don’t have to be represented by galleries
I met two art collectives in the fair, and I asked: how long have you been collective? One answered: just since this year (for two months), another one said: just for this weekend. I am sorry? An art collective made just for this weekend to share the cost of this fair?
It made me question the selection process: if a temporary artist collective could qualify, anyone who pays could qualify? In this case, if I were the organizer, I would save a few rooms just to make independent artist show. This way, artists don’t have to make fake groups just to come here.
If Hybrid wants to stand out, it needs to be edgier: such as allowing an independent artist to attend, or include more art activists… Or play with the fact there is a bed, to promote the idea of privacy and art… There are many possibilities.
- Ticket: 15€
- From Wednesday, Feb 27 to Sunday, March 3
- Address: Palacio Neptuno, C/de Cervantes, 42, 28014 Madrid
10 Years of being justMad!
With more than 50 galeries, they are bigger than the other art fair off, but yet nothing equivalent to the big daddy Arco. Their approach is dedicated to the emerging art and they merge it with art residencies.
Local art scene
While low-cost airlines are bringing geographical mobility to a larger population, affordable art fairs like JustMad are showcasing affordable contemporary art to local collectors. JustMad positions itself as the emerging art fair version of ARCO, following similar curatorial lines but featuring more local galleries (mostly Spanish, a few European). JustMad is a good opportunity to connect with the local art scene and source your favorite local galleries if you have recently moved to Madrid.
JustMAD art fair gives more attention to the people than the artworks. Go on its website and you will notice the portraits of the curators and its sponsors more than the artworks. If they want to support the emerging Spanish art, they should put art in the spotlight and sell it hard. Another problem is that JustMAD has put themselves in a somehow awkward position from the beginning – as inferior to ARCO, instead of the alternative to ARCO. In 2017, their curatorial note said: ‘last year I was in JustMAD, this year I am in ARCO.’ This comparison would really hurt their potential in many ways. By the way, ARCO is already giving out an emerging art award sponsored by a large alcoholic beverages company. If you are fond of art or don’t have the time or energy to take a trip out of the city center for ARCO. Then yes, JustMAD is a good option. If you are already exhausted from visiting ARCO, you can skip this one.
- Ticket: 15€
- Address: Glass Galerie Cibeles Palace, Calle de Montalbán, 1, 28014 Madrid
- Wednesday Feb 27 to Sunday March 3
The art of selling
Again, it is nothing out of the ordinary. It is one of these usual professional art fairs as so many others in the world. Its business model is just like any other trade fairs: making the most out of booth rentals from galleries. You may say, oh well, it is how the market works. But should it be? At least with, Urvanity it is the two only website that doesn’t leak your personal information when you visit it…