Four Curators on the Best of Latin American Art

For the fourth year—and with the help of four renowned curators—ARCOmadrid has scoured the Latin American art scene to unearth a hand-picked group of the region’s corps d’elite to participate in the fair’s Solo Projects section. Under the combined expertise of Magalí Arriola, curator at the Fundación/Colección Jumex in Mexico; Marcio Harum, curator of visual arts at the Centro Cultural São Paulo; Sharon Lerner, curator of contemporary art at the Museo de Arte de Lima; and Tobias Ostrander, chief curator and deputy director for curatorial affairs at the Pérez Art Museum in Miami, a group of 21 solo projects have been researched, developed, and realized to offer the most representative account of artwork throughout the region. Among the projects—which include Rio de Janeiro native Anna Bella Geiger’s photograph-and-postcard collages, picturing the history of Brazil, and Venezuelan artist Manuel Merida’s (a former assistant of Carlos Cruz-Diez) monochrome, rotating circles—we asked the curators to offer insights on some of their favorite works.


Marcio Harum:

Dudu Alcón Quintanilha at Mite (Buenos Aires, Argentina):

“The ‘Young at Heart Project’ deals with narrative texts of a young guy that describes one day in his life with thoughts, wishes, memories, and feelings about future, death, and desires, in the voice of two young interpreters in English and Spanish. Young at heart also has a photographic series that illustrates this recorded text. The piece loses control in a video where an English actor, directed by the artist, creates a character that is a curator who speaks about the project, changing his voice and the intention in his voice during his performance while he is trying to reach a point with some difficulties. Going further with experimental intentions, the work shows text in clothes and lecture as performative objects. Young at heart is a process of work that seduces for migrating ideas into new fields and ways of working.”

Marlene Stamm at D Concept Escritorio De Arte (São Paulo, Brazil):

6 hours of light is an installation composed of 530 watercolors on paper depicting the image of burnt matches. For every single image, a match is lit and held, time is measured with a stopwatch, the duration of the flame is written down, then the watercolor painting is done. The sum of all burnings results in six hours that will be displayed in sequential manner, from the first to the last burning, on the walls of [the booth].”

Fabio Flaks at Galeria Pilar (São Paulo, Brazil):

The paintings to be presented by Fabio Flaks for Solo Project are executed with procedures based in restraint and repetition, to achieve a meticulous combination of gray tones that are interrupted by colored surfaces. “These works are based in the representation of the most banal motifs—an incandescent lamp, a bottle, wrapping papers, and the domestic space—which are represented in an analytical way, loading them with dichotomies between internal and external, work and leisure, introversion and extroversion, restraint and extravasation; the very ambiguity of everyday life.”

Rogerio Degaki at Marcelo Guarnieri Gallery (Ribeirão Preto, Brazil):

“‘While there is tomorrow / Believe in happiness,’ is a solo project in tribute to the Brazilian artist Rogerio Degaki. These works refer to a childhood full of teddy prints on sweaters that children are usually required to wear by their mother at the first sign of cold; there is a collective memory of a childhood full of beings that we usually identify in dreams or anime. Degaki’s universe is inhabited by hybrid characters that seduce us with color and apparent innocence; elements such as TV, karaoke, gums, and prints from an artificial world. Issues related to the body, consumption, pop culture, sexuality, death and melancholy flourish in his artworks.”


Tobias Ostrander: 

Diego Bianchi at Barro Arte Contemporáneo(Buenos Aires, Argentina):

Diego’s piece will be an on-site performance. As pictured in his drawing, the project will feature a mechanism composed of objects and sculptures equipped with a system of ropes and pulleys, activated by the performer:

“For over a decade, Diego Bianchi has been producing installations and sculptures that articulate an irreverent kind of formalism. Often using what is found at a given exhibition site, or salvaged nearby, his dense environments have combined broken drywall with garbage, plastic bags, wood, broken furniture, dirt, paint, molded plaster, and industrially-made objects. His spaces and structures are filled with torsions, emotions, and a quiet energy. The rough, dirty, and chaotic character of his production recalls Arte Povera or the surfaces of Tàpies, while the subtle and elegant underlying structures, proportions, and spatial dialogues that he orchestrates reveal a negotiation with the legacies of Minimalism and formal abstraction. For his Solo Project at ARCO, titled SUSPENSIÓN DE LA INCREDULIDAD (Suspension of Disbelief), Bianchi is placing a dramatic performative element within one of his constructed environments, through which he seeks to create a space filled with weight, breath and enchantment.”


Sharon Lerner:

Miguel Aguirre at Y Gallery (New York City, U.S.):

“In his project for Y Gallery, Miguel Aguirre will present a series of small- and medium-format paintings based on images taken from the politics section of different written media. However, the caption of each image will directly refer to one of 13 contemporary figurative painters that are undeniable referents for a contemporary definition of the medium (Leon Golub, Alex Katz, Gerhard Richter, Ed Ruscha, Marlene Dumas, Simeon Saiz Ruiz, Luc Tuymans, Neo Rauch, Michaël Borremans, Peter Doig, Tim Eitel, and Wilhelm Sasnal).

The project, entitled Thirteen painters, is part of an ongoing research by the artist on painting as a powerful tool to question the role images play in contemporary society and the place they hold inside our collective imagination. Often using photographic sources stemming from various archives (from the printed press, television, cinema, among many others) Aguirre attempts to delve into the pertinence for a current history painting. His inclusion in ARCO’s Solo Projects constitutes an interesting homage to painting by an artist who has been consistently conscious of the medium, and his historical and political weight, and who constantly questions the value of representation in general.” 

Mirtha Dermisache at Henrique Faria Fine Art (New York City, U.S.):

“Another project, this time presented by Henrique Faria Fine Art, provides an interesting balance to the Solo Projects selection as much as it showcases the work of a more historical figure. The gallery will present a selection of many original pieces developed by Argentine conceptual artist Mirtha Dermisache, who developed a strong graphic work in which illegible ink writings on different surfaces (such as books, journals or letters) questioned the possibility of modern communication and the impartiality of writing systems. Far away from a formal concern, the artist’s treatment of these images questioned the role of the sign in any given communication system. A highlight is the incorporation of the original design of Diario Nº1, Año 1 (1972), a work that replicates the artist’s characteristic drawing in the form of an informative journal that had a strong repercussion in the graphic world at the time, and simultaneously cast an incisive comment on the role of media in a repressive context.” 

Browse additional works from  participating galleries: 80m2 Livia Benavides, Alberta Pane, Aural, Barro Arte Contemporáneo, D Concept Escritorio de Arte, Espace Meyer Zafra, Galeria Filomena Soares, Henrique Faria Fine Art, Marcelo Guarnieri, Mirta Demare, Mite, Nora Fisch, Galeria Pilar Revolver Galería, Wu Galeria, and Y Gallery.

Explore the Solo Projects at ARCOmadrid on Artsy.