From the 131 participating galleries, no fewer than 97 are Brazilian. Though clearly less international than Zona Maco in Mexico, what could be considered as the leading art fair of Latin America, the advantage of Sp-Arte is that it is the perfect place to spot Brazilian talent. The modern section is quite well developed, often referring to the heyday of Brazilian modernism and its formal language that also finds contemporary interpretations elsewhere at the fair. Amongst the classics, Alfredo Volpi is shown at several booths, an artist who depicted folkloric flags as an own interpretation of geometric formalism. Rubem Valentim, who has a solo at Paulo Darée but is also elsewhere well represented, adheres a folkloric formal language that almost seems to express a kind of retro-futurism.
The international galleries that are present at the contemporary section are not of the least, however, with heavyweights like David Zwirner, White Cube, neugerriemschneider, Galerie Continua, Franco Noero, Marian Goodman and kurimanzutto. The later, one of the three participating Mexican galleries, can boast a nice stand with work by Gabriel Kuri, Adrian Villar Rojas and Gabriel Orozco, Latin American artists that have become household names in the international art scene.
Mendes Wood DM, one of Brazil’s leading galleries, presents, amongst others, a nice selection of ordinary items stuck in resin by Paulo Nazareth, denouncing the light weight way in which names of massacred tribes are used as brands of ordinary household products. In the gallery at the fancy gallery district Jardins, you can also see a solo of Paulo Nimer Pjota, an artist who cleverly combines the language of old civilisations with elements from urban culture.
Luisa Strina and Vermelho, two equally respected yet older Brazilian galleries, convince with works by Lygia Clark, Olafur Eliasson and Cildo Meireles. Vermelho brings a nice piece of Jonathas de Andrade, jokingly referring to a study of the lack of work ethos amongst Brazilians. In the Repertorio, a section that wants to give somehow forgotten names more attention, Jacqueline Martins presents a nice survey of collages by Victor Gerhard. The design section on the third floor is, somehow surprisingly for a country with such a richness of skills, technics and woods, rather disappointing.
Though the quality of the fair is sometimes a bit uneven at the ground floor, it is the perfect place to spot local talents. Hence, Sp-Arte has conquered an identity of its own in a jam-packed art fair agenda. And that in what is definitely one of the nicest buildings, just one example of the rich (modernist) architectural heritage that in its own makes a visit to this vibrant city worth its while.
Sp-Arte, until April 15