There was palpable optimism on the first day of the 18th edition of SP-Arte, one of Latin America’s largest art fairs, which returns to its traditional venue and calendar location for the first time since 2019. Laughter and loving hugs were observed throughout the halls and stands. The fair, which lasts until April 10th, offers 100 art galleries and 30 design galleries this year, as well as a new sector presenting artists who do not (yet) have galleries, in the Biennale Pavilion in the heart of São Paulo.
“The pandemic has shown the art market that the internet is a very important tool, but of course the live experience is better,” says Fernanda Feitosa, founder of SP-Arte. After the 2020 edition was postponed, the 2021 show hosted two events: a fully virtual iteration and a stripped-down hybrid event. She adds: “Art has to be lived personally.”
gallery owners and collectors The Art Newspaper Interlocutor at the fair agreed with Feitosa, noting how good it is to be back at an event face to face. The cheerful mood aligns with findings from art economist Clare McAndrew’s latest Art Basel and UBS Global Art Market Report, which found that 75% of wealthy collectors in Brazil plan to buy art in 2022 (the highest rate of any country where collectors were interviewed). ) and almost a third of retailers expect to make significantly more sales this year than in 2021.
Brazilian market back on course
“The experience of being in contact with a work of art cannot be replaced by an image on a screen,” says architect and collector Paulo Barbosa. “I’ve been to every edition of SP-Arte so far and today I have the feeling that we’ve come alive again.”
Martin Castillo, director of Galeria Sur from Punta del Este, Uruguay, agrees. “People are excited. There will be more movement than in other years. We’re starting to restore the path we were on before the pandemic,” he says.
For Castillo, the Brazilian market is strong and as the US dollar has fallen against the Brazilian real in recent weeks there has been an increase in purchasing power for Brazilian collectors which is good news for the show as almost 80% of the buyers are from Brazil . he says.
New to the fair is Marcelle Farias, partner at Galerie Marco Zero in the northeastern city of Recife, Pernambuco. “For us, SP-Arte is the most important stage for presenting our collection. The largest platform in Latin America. We wanted our first participation in a trade fair to be at SP Arte,” she says. “Many people are interested in our artists from Pernambuco. I didn’t stop for a minute.” On the second day of the fair, the gallery had sold five works by Francisco Brennand (two paintings and three sculptures) and two paintings by the late Brazilian artist Gilvan Samico.
Others who have been attending the fair for some time are excited at the prospect of having something resembling normality again.
“We are already very satisfied with the trade fair. The most important collectors have already been here to look,” says Max Pelingeiro from the Pinakothek, which has locations in Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo and Fortaleza. “Last year, during the week of the fair, there were rumors that the Brazilian economy minister was leaving his post, so that gave the impression [art] market more anxious. This year is quieter and we have much higher expectations. Even before the opening, we sold a work by the Brazilian artist Alfredo Volpe.”
“The fair has just started but we can see that it is very busy. A lot of people wanted to come back, to meet again,” says Piero Atchugarry, whose eponymous gallery has locations in Miami and Garzon, Uruguay, and sold works by Adam Jeppesen, Pablo Atchugarry and Túlio Pinto on the first day of the fair.
Representatives of the Opera Gallery, which is participating in SP-Arte for the third year, are also enthusiastic and optimistic. “We have 14 rooms around the world but none in South America, so we come to SP-Arte to show our artists to new collectors who we can’t reach the rest of the year,” says Damien Simonelli, director of the Opera Gallery . “It’s the first day but we feel a good vibe, a good energy. People are very enthusiastic about the fair, about coming back to see beautiful art. We feel the bad times are behind us now.”
New artists on the radar
One of the highlights of the fair is a new sector called Radar. With five collectives and nine individual artists, Radar aims to promote and give visibility to artists without commercial representation.
“This sector is very important because we’re trying to introduce these artists to a larger community that can represent them in the future,” says Feitosa.
“The creation of the sector stems from the urgency of a collaborative circuit. A cycle in which some discussions were left out, some key figures were left out. We need to bring these discussions and artists inside,” says journalist and art critic Felipe Molitor, who curated the Radar sector.
According to Molitor, many of the artists represented in the industry have day jobs as gallery staff or assistants to established artists.
“Although they participate in exhibitions and engage in dialogues with curators and galleries outside of the fairgrounds, these connections do not exist in a continuous, consistent way,” he says. “We hope that gallery owners and the market will take notice of these new names and eventually show interest.”
Molitor says there have already been signs of curiosity about the unrepresented artists being exhibited, with certain gallerists issuing the first invitations. For him, this is emblematic of the mood of the fair in a broader sense, with visitors and participants happily reuniting after two difficult years.
“We did an edition last year that felt more like a preview due to the smaller number of galleries and audience,” he says. “The whole circle has great expectations, not only economically, but also to meet again, to socialize. The pandemic has enabled other types of online outreach, but art needs face-to-face interactions.” He adds, “The feeling this year is incredible.”
- SP Arte 2022Biennial Pavilion, Sao Paulo