Last year, one of the very first articles published by Contemporary Lynx was the report from the ARCO art fair held in Madrid. Also this year, we couldn’t miss reporting from this event. The 33rd edition of ARCO was attended by a total of 219 galleries from 23 countries, of which 164 in the General Programme, 13 in FocusFinland, 29 in Opening, and 21 in SoloProjects. The only Polish art gallery taking part was Warsaw gallery lokal_30. However, this wasn’t the only Polish presence as ŻAK | BRANICKA Gallery from Berlin led by Asia Żak and Monika Branicka also had a booth and focused on Polish art. Both galleries participated in the General Programme section.
Contemporary Lynx couldn’t visit the exhibition personally, so we asked the participating galleries to share their thoughts.
Monika Branicka admitted delightedly that the fair was outstanding. “We sold all the works by Marlena Kudlicka – all were shown for the first time and made specifically for ARCO. Stanisław Dróżdż’s works received excellent reception as well. He sparked great interest among institutions and museums. We received many compliments for our show and came sixth among the top ten booths at the fair. The reception of this art in Spain is great, especially thanks to interest from many South American collectors” – says Monika.
Agnieszka Rayzacher from lokal_30 was equally enthusiastic about the fair. Her gallery showed works of two artists – Natalia LL and Ewa Juszkiewicz. As she pointed out: “[…] discussions about Natalia LL oeuvre as well as some very interesting plans related to her works were the focus of lokal_30 presence. Some of these plans relate to an exhibition, or rather exhibitions, and events related to a book, which will be released in the spring (under Contemporary Lynx’ patronage – from ed.). Works by Ewa Juszkiewicz were also met with great interest. Her paintings went to important Danish collections already on the opening day of ARCO. Many people have asked me if I can see the difference between this and the previous year – it seems to me that this year there were even more people…”
Finally, the most important Polish art event in Madrid, albeit taking place outside of ARCO, was the exhibition of Grażyna Kulczyk Collection. It had opened a few days before the fair in the art gallery of the Fundación Banco Santander. Very soon, you will be able to read on our website our interview with the curator of the exhibition – Timothy Persons. Agnieszka Rayzacher’s exclusive first thoughts straight from Madrid may serve as a teaser:
“Grażyna Kulczyk shows a superb collection, […] it’s simply a good, balanced exhibition showing an excellent international collection. It’s very important that the works of Polish artists were contrasted with art by the biggest international stars of the XX and XXI century, without complexes but with emphasis, awareness of coherence and continuity of contemporary art and culture. The show is not divided into any blocks or according to any labels. It’s important to note that it’s displayed in a bank – so you can probably notice a certain conservative, bourgeois approach – it would be difficult to expect a different character of the exhibition. Nevertheless, it’s simply a contemporary classic. In the Spanish, and also wider art world, the exhibition made a profound impression, with a very positive response in terms of Polish art. I think, this proves that you don’t have to produce shows like “Polish art today” to indicate the most interesting phenomena in our art – the international context strengthens rather than weakens it. At ARCO, I had many lively conversations with collectors and curators who came up to me and wanted to talk about interesting events and the condition of contemporary Polish art. I persuaded some of them to go see the Grażyna Kulczyk collection, and they came back enchanted, and very impressed. In this context, it was nice to talk about the works of Natalia LL, as well as many other artists. Apart from Natalia, I know that also Strzemiński was a discovery for the international audience. And Katarzyna Górna, too. In the last weekend, all major Spanish newspapers included a perfectly designed insert advertising and promoting Grażyna Kulczyk exhibition. It must have been a huge organisational effort and cost. Spain is certainly mired in economic recession, but it doesn’t seem to apply to Santander bank and Madrid”.
To sum up, a small but very strong team visited Madrid this year. We hope that next year’s ARCO will bring even more success.
Written by: Dobromila Blaszczyk
Translated by Urszula Czyżewska and Edited by Contemporary Lynx