The flamboyant carding of Juana de Aizpuru returned to walk this Thursday through the pavilions of Ifema. The reappearance of this obstinate collector of exotic hairstyles, who founded Arco and has spent half a century at the helm of the gallery to which it gave its name, demonstrates the return to the capital of contemporary art fairs, postponed due to the coronavirus or entrusted to it. best-of-luck to the internet. The 28th edition of Estampa opens its doors until Sunday, picking up the witness of Art Paris – held in mid-September at the Palace of the Champs-Elysées -, which makes it the second major face-to-face event on the European art market since the beginning of the health crisis. The first in Spain.
Ifema launches a series of measures against the virus —digital access, continuous ventilation and reduction of the capacity to three quarters— that could well be considered the test for Arco, Estampa’s older sister with an international vocation, who was displaced from February to July and still Confirmation pendient. The Minister of Culture, new or regular dealers, journalists, aristocrats, politicians and collectors were milling about at the entrance to the venue early in the morning on this opening day. The most veteran, perhaps longing for the paper pass, fought with the screen of their mobile phone. The fair has 80 Spanish exhibitors and the work of a thousand artists marking pavilion 6. José María de Francisco, director of Estampa, fully trusts “the cultural consumer, characterized by respect for sanitary standards.”
After scanning the accreditation barcode and taking the temperature on the wrist, the visitor must undergo a second measurement, this time with an infrared thermometer. A middle-aged man stirred, protesting that such a weapon was pointed at his forehead. “Mother of God, I have never passed so many controls to see some paintings,” he proclaimed in a Berlanguian tone. Once inside, the collectors strolled through the ship with their lists in hand. It would seem that they are the only vestige of that original Print that was focused on the graphic work of great contemporary creators, a more affordable version of artistic production. Later, new supports were made: alongside the serial copies, other unique originals competed, all aimed at what De Francisco calls “affordable collecting”.
The gallery owners are well aware of the desires of this public, as they often visit their venues in search of advice. They even become friends. José de la Mano, one of the exhibitors, maintains that “sales are complicated, but creating exciting projects seems more important than ever”. It is true that during the morning the red dots were conspicuous by their absence, but that may indicate the limited scope of advance purchases. The dealer describes that it is time for a certain activism for art, “although the benefits are not immediate.” In its space, two equally committed works are seen face to face: geometric sculptures and abstract canvases with an industrial stamp that Ángel Duarte and Agustín Ibarrola imagined in the sixties. With them they proclaimed the political character of all creation, a position that led them to exile and jail.
A great allegory of the Delphic sibyl presides over the room, as if the prophetess could distribute luck to those present. The large installation is the work of the Valencian Victoria Civera, guest artist in this edition of Estampa. At the foot of the main sculpture winds a trail of small figures that the most unsuspecting stepped on several times during the morning. The gallery owner Moisés Pérez de Albéniz, who represents the honored author, had the face of recovering the forgotten feeling of face-to-face fairs. The last time he attended one was in the same venue, during Arco 2020, which was held just three weeks after the first state of alarm was decreed: “We have spent this year canceling events. We continue to move between the precariousness of the moment and the desire to do things ”.
On a gray background, the pale pink of a pijuan It seems to calm the wolf that Philipp Fröhlich, a young German, painted almost half a century later. The forms of rationalist inspiration of the visual artist Rogelio López Cuenca contrast with the scattering of a sculpture of red cloth and wood – produced by the Israeli Georg Herold – that the Juana de Aizpuru gallery sells for 120,000 euros. The space of this octogenarian dealer, the only one who has found a place for art books, symbolizes the power of the Spanish market in times of uncertainty. “We have brought the best we had, big names and different disciplines: photography, painting and sculpture. I have set up this position with the same enthusiasm as if I were at the Basel fair ”, conceded De Aizpuru, recently vaccinated against coronavirus.
The legends of the sector coexist at the fair with other more recent initiatives, such as Fahrenheit, founded shortly before the pandemic by two thirty-somethings interested in the bubbling New York scene. They select artists visible across the pond, but still affordable here. “They are in what we call a sweet moment”, pointed Valeria Aresti, one of the owners. Color is the common denominator of this display, from which hang the paintings of two other young women: Sarah Thibault and Annabeth Marks. The first depicts female figures during their personal hygiene tasks, in an exercise of meta-art loaded with melancholy. The second part of the figuration and fragments it through collage. Will Estampa also be the beginning of a rebirth? The art world holds its breath.