To Dream, to Collect

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As ever, we are ready to get you behind the scenes of the most important art events, so here we are with the second chapter of MeetMe, our section dedicated to reveal the inner workings of the main fairs, together with their protagonists. 

After ArteFiera Bologna, we shift to ARCOmadrid, one of Spain's major fairs. Having finished on Sunday 3 March, the 38th edition was the last under the direction of Carloz Urroz, who is now ready to hand over to his historical collaborator Maríbel Lopez. But what really happened this time and what was the gallerists' sentiment? In general, with more than 200 exhibitors and a growth of 8% of public visitors compared to last year, the fair has confirmed its growing position inside the global art market. But for specifics, we defer to Galeria Madragoa, P420 Art Gallery, Galerie Lelong and Max Estrella in order to analyse together the important choices of their personal journeys and their points of view.

 

I MeetMee --> GALERIA MADRAGOA

After years of collaboration with an historical gallery such as Franco Noero, when did you decide to open your own space, with a specific planning? Why Lisbon - a vivid but decentralized place for contemporary art, especially in 2016 when you moved there? 

Since I have started working for contemporary art galleries, I’ve always been attracted by the dream of opening a space where I could create my own program. The experience at Franco Noero Gallery has finally given me the means and the experience to do it. I discovered Lisbon thanks to my partner Gonçalo Jesus and after years of visiting the city I found a place with low costs, a huge attractive potential and a smaller presence of contemporary art galleries working at an international level. This allows us to survive economically and to have a good visibility even though Lisbon is not at the center of the world. It is an ideal base.

What recommendations would you now give to an emergent gallery?

Having clear ideas on how you want to carry on your own discourse, trying to be serious and professional since the beginning and not being in a rush to grow up.

According to you, in which direction is the Italian market going today? Are there any differences with the foreign one, when thinking at those international artists you work with? 

I like to think of a European market rather than many national ones. In this context, Italy represents - for Madragoa in particular - an important opportunity: I am especially glad that many collectors that follow us have my own age - it is wonderful to grow up together with our generation, even though it is not the luckiest one in economic terms.

 

 

Galeria Madragoa, Stand at ARCOMadrid 2019. Courtesy Galeria Madragoa

 

II MeetMee --> P420

 Since its foundation in 2010, P420 was born with very precise and sophisticated choices. You deal with many artists - both established and emerging ones -  that perhaps seem to be difficult for the market, apparently. How were you recognized before becoming the gallery we all know today?

At the beginning, reactions were extremely diverse: some were incredulous and skeptical of the work we had set, while others didn’t take too seriously the feat of two young engineers who had dedicated themselves to Art. We were somehow outsiders and this - we think - has helped us to have the unconsciousness to throw ourselves into new adventures. However, we were also very lucky because from the first exhibitions we received the support of our collectors and curators who gave us the courage and motivation to move forward and explore the terrain of younger generations. We will always be deeply grateful for this. 

What recommendations would you now give to an emergent gallery?

To have a vision: clear and ambitious. Without a vision, it is very hard to stand out and fit into a world which is competitive and always rich of new and diverse proposals. 

According to you, in which direction is the Italian market going today? Are there any differences with the foreign one, when thinking at those international artists you work with?

 The Italian market is really interesting as Italian collectors are spread through all the national territory. It is a genuine and curious collecting, with medium-high knowledge and competence. Unfortunately, the economic situation is not always positive and this leads to a not very stable market. Compared to the foreign market, one of the most distinguishing elements of the Italian one - that has always struck me - is perhaps the greater ability of collectors - it’s just a general discourse - of being less influenced by the artist’s name. I mean that sane and beautiful ability of reading a work of art for what it really is, without waiting to know the name of the artist before having an opinion and giving a judgement.   

 

P420 Art Gallery, Stand at ARCOMadrid 2019. Courtesy P420

 

III MeetMee --> GALERIE LELONG

 Since the 80s Lelong Gallery has been dealing with many internationally recognized artists – Kiki Smith, Jannis Kounellis, David Hockney, Ana Mendieta, just to quote some -. Was the focus on historical international artists together with emergent one a must and a specific choice since the beginning?

Our gallery has a long story behind, since 1945. So we permanently combine and intricate this historical heritage with living contemporary art, and artists and collectors appreciate that. We think that all arts have deep roots: we should always look at the flowers but never forget the roots.

According to you, which are the differences between the art market in Europe (Paris) and USA (New York)? Since when you started to direct the gallery, did the market change a lot in comparison to 40 years ago? 

 There are a few differences, but not so big, as a European and American market exist since the XXth century, with strong links; we could discuss the differences between European/American and Asian market, and also with the emerging African market. The very big change between let’s say 1990 and 2019 is the fact that the art market is now « global », covering the whole world. In 1990 you could not imagine the development of China… The big change is also the development of the « auction houses market », the very quick circulation of information around the world through internet, and the appearance of multinational « world » galleries… 

What recommendations would you now give to an emergent gallery?

Be strong, be fierce, be courageous and show that you really believe in the artists you are showing. 

 

Galerie Lelong, Stand at ARCOMadrid 2019. Courtesy Galerie Lelong

 

IV MeetMee --> MAX ESTRELLA 

For over 20 years (25 this year), you have been dealing with many internationally recognized video artists - Daniel Ganogar, Stephen Dean, Eugenio Ampudia and more. Was the focus on video and multidisciplinary artists a must and a specific choice since the beginning?

The gallery opened 25 years ago and has been evolving with time. From the start of the new century, we started paying attention to artists who work with technology. 

According to you, in which direction is the Spanish contemporary art market going today? And what about video art in Spain? Are there any challenges on the way of collecting and selling video?

In recent years, the Spanish market has been gaining knowledge about mediums considered "new" (although in reality they are not new...). Max Estrella has promoted artists who work in this direction and has even been awarded twice with the BEEP Price for Electronic Art. The great challenge now is settle and normalize this art in the market.

What recommendations would you now give to an emergent gallery?

Every project must be personal. Copying others doesn’t work. Only if you believe in your own path you are able to move forward.

 

 

Max Estrella, Stand at ARCOMadrid 2019. Courtesy Max Estrella

 

 *Cover images of Galeria Madragoa and P420 during ARCOmadrid 2019.

Stay Tuned on Kooness magazine for more exciting news from the art world.

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