arteBA 2012 Contemporary Art Fair in Buenos Aires

If you’ve ever been to an art gallery and thought “this is the life” as you chugged back a glass of bubbly while gazing at a curious new installation, you’ll be interested to know that the opening-to-end-all-gallery-openings is about to begin in Buenos Aires. From Friday 18 May until Tuesday 22 May, arteBA 2012 dusts down its canvases to begin the 21st edition of the art collectors’ fair that gets Buenos Aires, if not Argentina and Latin America, buzzing.

ArteBA is a hugely important event from the galleries’ perspective because it allows them to showcase the best of contemporary Argentinian art. The event gathers local gallery greats, such as Ruth Benzacar, Teresa Anchorena and Jardín Oculto, and the emerging such as Rayo Lazer and Mite, giving one and all the chance to shine brightly with exhibitions and installations from their prized artists. Exhibitors are divided into various categories, including the ‘Barrio Joven Chandon’ for emergent artists, ‘Galleries at arteBA 2012’ for the more established venues and the ‘Petrobras Visual Arts Prize’.

Marcelo Pombo's "Cajita de Helado" 2011
Marcelo Pombo’s “Cajita de Helado” from Jardín Oculto; Photo courtesy of arteBA.

Taking place at La Rural, for the price of 50 pesos, expect to see Brazilians whipping out platinum credit cards to the sound of popping corks while rubbing shoulders with collectors, curators and artists from the local art world. The Real Argentina gives you the arteBA lowdown…

The Established Gallery Owner

In his role as the representative face of contemporary art gallery owners, Fernando Entin, who not only directs Palermo Hollywood’s Elsi de Río – home to Liniers, Nico Sara and Claudio Roncoli, but is also the president of Galaac, a body which encourages good practice in the field, calls the annual art fair “a celebration.”

He says: “For me, every year that I take part in arteBA, which goes back 12 years ever since the inception of Elsi de Río, is a celebration. ArteBA is one of the most emblematic fairs in the region, and over the years, it has consolidated itself as one of the most outstanding artistic events in the Latin American environment, and aligned itself with international standards.”

Check out this video promo for Argentinian artist Liniers, who features at arteBA 2012 with Elsi de Río, and singer Kevin Johansen who often collaborate together on projects:

Reaching Maturity

One studio which has crossed over from the ‘Barrio Joven’ section this past year to make it to the more grown-up ‘Galleries at arteBA 2012’ section is Miau Miau. One of the hippest galleries around, Miau Miau is known for its innovative exhibitions and installations, youthful perspective and legendary launch parties. Mariano López Seoane, who co-runs the Palermo-based gallery with Cecilia Glik, says: “ArteBA is a very important event for Miau Miau to gain more visibility, establish contacts and start new projects. What is really important is that this year we have moved on from the ‘Barrio Joven’ to share a space with more recognised and experienced galleries. This is a big challenge and we are taking it very seriously and enthusiastically, given that the fair has become increasingly international thanks to the number of curators, critics, journalists and collectors from various parts of the world.”

Don’t miss Miau Miau artists Amaya Bouquet, CONCHETINAS, Jazmín Berakha, Grillo Demo and Alejo Musich, while Mariano’s hot tip is painter Constanza Alberione from Rosario, whom he calls “very unique – I think she is going to attract a lot of attention at this fair.”

Alejandra Seeber "Big disco years" 2012
Alejandra Seeber’s “Big disco years”; Photo courtesy of arteBA.

The Collector

Dudu von Thielmenn, one of Argentina’s most prominent collectors, who has a special interest in photography and who sits on the international board of arteBA which aims to bring foreign buyers to Buenos Aires, says of the art fair: “I think it gathers some great galleries together – I am always excited about the yet-unknown and especially what features in the Barrio Joven. I always like to discover crazy things and love the fact it is always cheap and undiscovered.” She is looking forward to checking out the Foster Catena photo gallery among others.

Elisa Strada, Serie Como un lugar II 2011
Elisa Strada’s “Serie Como un lugar II”; Photo courtesy of arteBA.

The Owners

Linda Neilson, owner and curator of Galería Mar Dulce, will be eagerly attending this year’s fair. She says: “I’ll be looking out for painter Carmen Pérez from Van Riel, photographer Santiago Porter from Zavaleta Lab and the sculptor Juan Batalla.”

Graciela Hasper, Sin título, 2012
Graciela Hasper, Sin título; Photo courtesy of arteBA.

Meanwhile, Natalia Sly, co-owner of Chacarita’s SlyZmud which opened last December, says: “Although we won’t have a stand this year, we will be going to the fair every day and working from there. One of our artists, Sebastian Garbrecht, will be showing his work. My recommendations are Miau Miau, and Munguau, a project directed by Gala Berger thanks to a cultural exchange between South Korea and Argentina, and I also love the photographs by a talented young artist called Facundo Pires.”

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Sorrel Moseley-Williams
A freelance journalist and sommelier, Brit transplant Sorrel Moseley-Williams lived in Argentina in 1998 for a year before making a permanent move in 2006. She has contributed to CNN Travel, Condé Nast Traveler and Traveller, The Guardian, Saveur, The Independent, Departures, Wallpaper*, Fodor’s and Rough Guide books among others, and has written for La Nación, U-Like It and Forbes Argentina in Spanish.
Sorrel Moseley-Williams

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