sp-arte / 2013

7 Apr

“The art market in Brazil today experiences a peculiar and intense conjunction of forces: if, on the one hand, we witness an increasing interest in contemporary art, the escalation of value and dealing of artworks from both younger and older generations, all fueled by BRIC inflated euphoria, on the other hand Brazil’s most canonical art historical figures remain profoundly experimental and marginal.” Adriano Pedrosa, Curator of the Educational Program, sp-arte / 2013

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Figure by Kang Hyung Koo, Brazilian background

Went to the Sao Paulo art fair sp arte / 2013 yesterday. It’s held in the Bienal building, in alternate years, and as the official text above suggests, the event has gone from strength to strength, attracting prestigious European and North American galleries – White Cube, Gagosian, etc – and giving South American artists the opportunity to reach new publics as well as their (growing) home markets. It is an international event.

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Internal public entrance with security guard

It’s a popular event too, with visitors thronging the walkways on the public days, browsing the art work displayed for sale, patronising the sponsored bars, and networking furiously. Here’s some of what I saw.

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Busy art market, though not too many red stickers

The dichotomy between the commercial art market and art and art-historical education is reflected in the support for the event – retail shopping centre, Brazilian and Canadian banks, and telecoms company alongside state-owned water company, state and federal governments.

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Bar sponsored by up-scale shopping centre

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Purpose-built for art display, but not as big as the Bienal itself yet

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Lounge sponsored by private banking business

This dichotomy is also a preoccupation of the artists being shown.

Video work by Marina Abramovic on Samsung screen

Video work by Marina Abramovic on Samsung screen …

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… alongside photographic print by Abramovic

High-resolution display screens were an identifiable trend, though most were carefully clear of branding. Other trends? Video, but very little other time-based work, for example performance art.

Location-specific Rapunzel

Location-specific Rapunzel

In view of the concern with Brazil’s heritage, that’s surprising, since performance art has been very strong here, during the dictatorship years, and in actions associated with squatters. Hmmm …

The display of time …

by Guto Lacaz

by Guto Lacaz

A more traditional time display

… and generally poor display of the details about artists and works.

Photographic and hyper-real figurative work, and few abstract works.

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Temple of David, Beirut,1996, Robert Polidori

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Another human animal, the work of Adriana Duque

A preoccupation with brands and labels …

Patrocínios (Sponsorships) II 2013

Leda Catunda’s Patrocínios (Sponsorships) II 2013, from football strips

… with a provocative undercurrent.

American 'patches' sewn on a parachute

American ‘patches’ sewn on a parachute

The international language of conspiracy theory

The international language of conspiracy theory …

The comfort of traditional knowledge

… and the comfort of traditional knowledge

A continuing fascination with pop art.

King Kong goes bananas

King Kong goes bananas

International character

International character

The Marcel Duchamp heritage

The Marcel Duchamp heritage

Traditionally strong craft, plus modern adhesive

Traditional craft, modern adhesive

I was easily able to take low-resolution photographs, and to chat freely with knowledgeable dealers and gallery staff. In itself, this show provides an excellent educational opportunity, which many clearly relished.

The comparisons one can make between some greats of western art – Calder, Chagall, Dali, Hirst, Picasso, Schnabel, Warhol – and the Brazilian and Latin American canon on show – Jose Bechara, Leda Catunda, Emiliano di Cavalcanti, Milton Dacosta, Adriana Duque, Guto Lacaz, Daniel Murgel, Raimundo Rodriguez, Lasar Segall, Jesus Soto, Rafael Vicente, Alfredo Volpi – is unparalleled, and the subject of another post.

One Response to “sp-arte / 2013”


  1. Brazilian Art at sp-arte / 2013 | Brasil Art - May 26, 2013

    […] took a quick look at the Sao Paulo art fair sp-arte / 2013 in a previous post. https://brasilart.org/2013/04/07/sp-arte-2013/  It’s held in alternate years to the Sao Paulo Bienal, in the Bienal […]

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