June 21, 2021

The ‘rentrée’ of Madrid galleries: knots, bubbles and dilemmas | Babelia

Let’s start from something positive. Galleries do a job that is hardly comparable to any other in the artistic context. It is a matter of compromise. On the one hand, with the artists, with whom good galleries work hand in hand. On the other, with citizens, to whom a free cultural activity is offered. A feat that has more and more merit, knowing that many do not pay to open the door and that the collector already lived before the pandemic in a bubble group. And there comes the first dilemma. With the art fairs canceled (the last to fall has been Art Basel Miami Beach, scheduled for December) and physical movements diminished, physical contact with art seems to evaporate as technology advances in its career of digital skills. Social pressure is pressing to broaden the knowledge of art that best reflects “global diversity” while the algorithm is used in terms of profitability. Several people in charge of the Spotify recommendation system are already in a research group with machine learning sponsored by Sotheby’s auction house. Will we buy art in the same way that an algorithm recommends a song to us?

One of Alfredo Rodríguez's works in Espacio Valverde.
One of Alfredo Rodríguez’s works in Espacio Valverde.

That is where the new gallery model seems to be going: platforms that allow artists new opportunities and where the exhibition on-line it also functions as an incubator for new audiences. Artsy, surely the most famous trading platform in the world, has quadrupled its activity in the last year and even the last edition of Arco Lisboa ended up in this marketplace, in nomenclature collector. The museums are already there too, thinking of the new generations and with London at the head: R&D Platform at the Serpentine Gallery, the National Gallery X or the Digital Twin from the Natural History Museum. A battle between the old and the new that opens a gap not only digital, but also ideas. If in the old the idea of ​​marking territory sometimes in a somewhat opaque way reigned, the new is synonymous with collaboration, exceptionality and recognizing that the galleries together are stronger. A song of union that they ask for the physical visit to the exhibitions.

Surely that is why both a project and Meeting, designed by Pedro Maisterra and Belén Valbuena, the most atypical opening of the joint opening of the galleries in Madrid. First, because it started in June, giving the holiday season a new life. Second, because until February 6, 2021, the date that ends the idea, those who come to the gallery will find something different each time. Things change every month, always on Mondays, and hardly anything is known about the artists that will follow each other in this relay chain where Luis Gordillo and Eduardo Paolozzi have just arrived along with B. Wurtz and Antonio Ballester Moreno. The formula seems almost perfect: expand the offer of artists (and works) to try to also amplify sales. It is usually the meaning of group shows, showing a lot and different, some integrating other cultural actors in their rooms, such as the program full of interludes from the NF gallery, and others with as good taste as Feed, in The Ryder: a present from fakes and stories by Nora Barón, Lúa Coderch, Julio Linares and Ivana de Vivanco.

Work of John Baldessari from the series Madame Cézanne's Hairdos (2016).
Work of John Baldessari from the series Madame Cézanne’s Hairdos (2016).

The battle of emotion is won by Nacho Criado in the Álvaro Alcázar gallery, the best exhibition of this Opening 2020. Few artists speak of emptiness like this one does, capable of grasping us and not letting go. They also dock to floating commotion Speech of uncertainties, a wonderful sample, in 1 Mira Madrid, and the Cardboard hospital, by Carlos Bunga and Primož Bizjak, in the Elba Benítez gallery: a building built in 1912 in the middle of the Catalan Pyrenees with unique characteristics in the world, a modular architecture model that arises to protect life in emergency situations. Could not come more ad hoc. The architectural wink is extended to the Helga de Alvear gallery by the hand of Isaac Julien and his fantastic look at Lina Bo Bardi, and the computation of the big data Elena Asins puts it in Elvira González, who dialogues almost without distances with the Alexanco exhibition in Sala Alcalá 31. Same generation and same rigor. Body, technology and cataclysm also come together in the works of Alfredo Rodríguez in Espacio Valverde, a work on how to deal with materials until obtaining what an object should communicate. Said like that it sounds like an oxymoron, but think about the simple task of how to build an envelope out of paper. Through the universe of objects, many artists and exhibitions fluctuate, from Ana Santos (The Goma) to Catarina Botelho (Silvestre), passing through Manuel Franquelo-Giner (Twin Gallery). Laura Torrado (Freijo) and Diana Larrea (Espacio Minimo) raise their voices against patriarchy, while Cristina Lucas (Albarrán Bourdais) talks about impossible cartographies, and Marta de Gonzalo and Publio Pérez Prieto reflect on the scope of the insult (Comfortable Format ). A high scope, like the work of Aurèlia Muñoz with crafts, full of knots and forgotten until recently, that José de la Mano returns to the hands of collectors.

Although if there is something that seduces the market, it is painting, which we find in Madrid in endless variants, from the abstraction of Cabrita (Juana de Aizpuru) and Nico Munuera (Moisés Pérez de Albéniz) to the chromatic exploration of Rosa Brun (Fernández -Braso), Helmut Federle (Parra & Romero) or Rafa Forteza (Ponce + Robles). Although I confess my fascination with the hair of Madame cezanne, the series by John Baldessari inspired by the portraits that the French painter made of Hortense Fiquet, focusing on the reason for his hairstyles, and exhibiting La Caja Negra. A flirtation with humor and with the most trivial side of life, which Christie’s has already christened as hi-lite, a new “sales concept”, they say: carefree art, with a neo-pop aesthetic, connected with the commercial, cartoons and street culture. Takashi Murakami & co. We’ll see how long it takes to spread like a new virus.


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