Wednesday, 22 May 2024
WorldYour walls need some Latin American art

Your walls need some Latin American art

Social unrest, violence, political unrest, disputes over indigenous rights: from Ecuador to Cuba, The struggles and conflicts that have shaped the history of Latin America are very present in the daily headlines about crime, marginalization and repression.

However, that chaotic reality has also incubated a vibrant and diverse arts scene whose influence is expanding beyond the region. This year, for example, the first Latin American curator will be appointed to direct the Venice Art Biennale. Adriano Pedrosa, born in Rio de Janeiro, will participate in the world’s longest-running contemporary art exhibition starting in April with “Foreigners Everywhere,” an exhibition focused on highlighting movements from the Global South and giving voice to artists who otherwise would be ignored, from immigrants to indigenous groups.

The biggest buzz around Latin American art was also evident at last week’s annual fairs in Mexico City: in its twentieth edition, Zona Maco, andThe largest of these simultaneous events, registered a record of 81 thousand attendees; The parallel Material and Salón ACME fairs were also packed. (Full disclosure: my wife works with a gallery that participated in Material.)

In a case of art imitating life in countries where doing business presents major obstacles, several galleries still had their containers stuck in customs even after exhibitions began. But my own walks through the exhibitions left me with two strong positive impressions. First, as a Latin American, I was surprised by the collective energy and enthusiasm at these events, in contrast to the divisive politics of the region. Secondly, as a financial journalist, I couldn’t help but feel that Latin American art may be going through a financial moment.

I followed up this idea with specialists at Sotheby’s, who said that their recent art sales in the region have performed well (almost $250 million in sales between 2020 and 2023, or more than 50% above the years before the pandemic).

“We have recently renewed interest in Latin American art in general,” Anna Di Stasi, head of the auction house’s Latin American division, told me. “It is a wonderful moment in terms of education and market opening.”

Di Stasi says that while the region’s political instability may have influenced certain artists and styles, there is more than one reason behind this trend, including collectors seeking specific movements (such as surrealist works from the 1940s to 1960s). or Venezuelan geometric abstraction) and emerging indigenous artists who until recently did not receive much recognition. Curatorial demand from U.S. museums and institutions is also driving sales. “It is part of a broader conversation within the art market and with clients seeking to represent important periods from this region in their collections,” Di Stasi said.

He was careful to describe the trend not as a boom, but as a moment of “substantial growth,” because in today’s fast-paced global art market, collectors can quickly move on to something else.

Still, Sotheby’s expects strong revenue in early 2024 and is preparing to auction works by Colombian master Fernando Botero, who died in September.

The growing Latino community in the United States, which already represents almost 20 percent of the country’s population and whose purchasing power is expanding, also translates into greater visibility for this art, whether in educational centers or exhibitions. Next month, for example, the Museum of Modern Art in New York will open an exhibition dedicated to Latin American design from 1940-1980.

Of course, it is not so easy to specify exactly what constitutes Latin American art beyond the nationality of its protagonists. José Kuri, co-owner of the kurimanzutto gallery in Mexico City, considers the region to be “on the edge” of Western art, in a “privileged position” compared to more conventional sources that could be considered “a little exhausted.” Kurimanzutto opened a branch in New York last year to take advantage of demand in the US market for other voices.

Ricardo Zielinsky, a Brazilian art dealer who owns galleries of the same name in Barcelona and São Paulo, told me that “Latin American art has many more layers than others, and collectors or institutions from other countries are interested in discovering this because it is a novelty for them.” they.”

When I asked both gallerists about possible names to follow, they recommended female artists, including Mexican Lilia Carrillo and Argentine icon Marta Minujín, as well as Brazilians Vera Chaves Barcellos and Gretta Sarfaty.

As a journalist too immersed in the region’s political and economic problems, I continue to value works that present them in a different, more memorable light. Last year I purchased a photograph taken by Brazilian artist Romy Pocztaruk, who in 2011 took a long road trip across the Transamazônica, a highway that crosses northern Brazil from east to west, documenting abandoned artifacts from the effort of the previous military dictatorship for integrating remote areas. He lands across a grand highway. It is an emotional reminder not only of Brazil’s unfulfilled promises, but also of how pharaonic projects tend to be quickly wasted and forgotten. And yet, Latin American governments still insist on building them.

Will that photograph one day be a good investment? Who knows. But having it in my living room inspires me to think more about the work I do, and if my purchase somehow increased Latin America’s soft power, all the better.

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