The blinds of the Madrid galleries came down with Arco’s hangover still on the retina and at the close of sales. Some stopped abruptly, like social life. Others have split the payment, looking for a respite. And many have shown friendship, the one that unites gallery owners and collectors beyond dinners and drinks. A complicity that now has the great challenge of becoming the philosopher’s stone that saves the art from disaster: that continued support over time of a collector involved in the career of artists and not only in social recognition. A role that cries out for renewal.
In the eyes of gallery owners who have already reopened is the bewilderment of the scope of the pandemic and those months. Also the image of pavilions 7 and 9 of Ifema converted into a field hospital, those where days before they had camped with their stands and their artists. An image that the art world will hardly forget. Enrique Tejerizo, director of the F2 Gallery Along with Paloma González, who says that she stopped watching the news when they started putting up beds and building walls. Teleworking has helped him put the gallery in check and come back with ideas for renovation, expanding artists and approaches. It takes days with the space open by appointment, something that does not cease to have its crumb as it is located on Doctor Fourquet Street. I go to an opening that is not an opening. Things of the “new normal”. Its titled Umbra and it is from the artist Xisco Mensua (Barcelona, 1960). It had to have opened in March and now it will be the show that closes the season. It will be until July 18. The exhibition is full of black and white silhouettes of people who seem absent. An image that recalls the shadow theater, that magical resource for telling stories, inventing or adapting them, which here triggers the imagination, something that is appreciated in times of such closeness. Reaching September and recovering the social fabric around the Lavapiés neighborhood is the main priority for these galleries now. Then there will be a review of its relationship to the current system of fairs, another bubble that also seems about to burst.
In the Barrio de las Letras, the space for Comfortable Format it still hosts the exhibition by Berta Cáccamo (Vigo, 1963 – Coruxo, 2018), which opened on February 13 and will now last a few more weeks. After two years of the artist’s death, it was her big bet in Arco and a success in terms of sales. It is what has saved them these months from economic uncertainty. Those who know them know of their ability to adapt to any dilemma. As proof, his own gallery filled with patches of putty like someone who boasts scars. Cáccamo’s paintings have that same power, which coexists with a certain visual precariousness. The dust from which all Pantin forms arise, Paris, 1989-1991 It is the title that Juan de Nieves, curator of the exhibition, has given to this capsule over time with 14 small paintings on paper and two fabrics. Going through them, I talk to gallery owners about the protection and dissemination of collecting and the artists’ employment regime, the most disadvantaged of that long chain of art agents. Mentally they are already the day after tomorrow, pulling, they say, illusion. This is how they look at its next inauguration, which will not arrive until September 10, when Madrid celebrates its usual Opening seasonal. By then, the artists Marta de Gonzalo and Publio Pérez Prieto will show a work on the possibilities of the political incidence of art, revaluing the insult as another possible place of cultural production.
In Malasaña, the guts and ducts of Teresa Solar (Madrid, 1985) seem to open up to new readings in the gallery space Journey Four. The Ways of escape The title fits well with his drawings and sculptures that fight to leave the closed circuit looking for new horizons. It is a different exhibition than what the artist had accustomed us. The tension is much lighter and the gesture much more precise. An exhibition that opened in February at a sweet moment for the artist internationally. Then came the shock, confesses Inés López-Quesada, director of the gallery with Silvia Ortiz, who has mentally installed herself in the idea of working in the short term. They closed the gallery soon, on March 11. The spaces they have in Mexico and Guadalajara did it a week later, also anticipating their neighbors. Today they remain closed until further notice. It was not until mid-June that they thought about reopening. The sensation is to start over to overcome an art market that will undoubtedly be affected. The good? Work more the you to you, he says, the short distance deal. A much closer type of relationship than the one that circulated when everyone was in a hurry. Calm that comes, also, with a turn of the gallery project at a digital level. It is one of the galleries that opens a shortly viewing room (In this format the next Art Basel fair will be held), from where to see the exhibitions from home. It will be on June 11, when they inaugurate the collective Scratching the surface.
Outside the gallery Elba Benítez Follow the reminder of the 30 years that this gallery owner has been active. The celebration was stopped by the Covid-19, although he confesses that the break has been mentally good for him. He caught him in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, with his family, and from there he has shot a video conference to continue with the usual rhythm of the gallery, which continues to host the exhibition that opened before Arco, Empty words by Ignasi Aballí (Barcelona, 1958). I scroll through the list of 27 words on steel plates hanging on the wall and stop at the one that brings me back to the real world: Unimaginable. Watching the strip of red chunks cut from the newspaper, almost forming a blood stream, it was almost impossible for me to remember their lists of Dead. With that sting Elba Benítez tells me that they are going to turn the gallery’s website, including new projects, and that in September they start with a very special project: the Cardboard hospital that Carlos Bunga and Primoz will open in September.
Also renovation on-line and of viewing room has thrown the gallery Parra and Romero during confinement time. Easy to walk around the exhibition that Rosa Barba (Agrigento, Italy, 1972) opened in February, although nothing like seeing it live. A marvel. Turn and Wind gives title to his latest works, which continue to investigate the semantics and temporality of language. Among the works that I have in my memory is Liberties (2020) created from excerpts from texts by Susan Howe, one of the most celebrated experimental poets of her generation, expert in expanding traditional notions of gender and disciplines. An ever-changing and infinite narration, like the one in the title of one of the works that never ceases to amaze me read today: Isolation of Information (2015). At the moment, the exhibition by Marieta Chirulescu, scheduled for this spring, goes to September. In suspense is also the opening of the space that this gallery has in Ibiza, currently closed.
Umbra. Xisco Monthly. Gallery F2. Madrid. Until July 26.
The Dust from Which All the Forms Emerge Pantin, Paris, 1989-1991. Berta Cáccamo. Comfortable format. Madrid. Until July 18.
Ways of escape. Teresa Solar. Journey Four. Madrid. Until May 30.
Empty words. Ignasi Aballí. Elba Benítez Gallery. Madrid. Until June.
Turn and wind. Rosa Beard. Parra and Romero. Madrid. Until June.