Like Mother Like Daughter: Orly Benzacar Carries on the Fostering Spirit of Ruth Benzacar Galería de Arte

“My first contact with art was during childhood; I grew up inside an art gallery,” Argentine gallerist Orly Benzacar says—and not hyperbolically. In 1965, at the age of nine, her mother Ruth Benzacar opened her initial avant-garde space within the family home. By the ’90s, Orly began directing the gallery alongside her mother, and when her mother suddenly passed away in year 2000, she took the reins as director of Ruth Benzacar Galería de Arte.

First with her mother, and now on her own, Benzacar has been charged with growing the careers of young artists. A key experience, she recalls, is an exhibition she curated in 1993 featuring then-emerging artists Jorge Macchi, Pablo Siquier, Ernesto Ballesteros, Sebastián Gordín, and Fabio Kacero—who today, she says, “are now the most established names of the local and international art scene.” In addition, Benzacar has held a contest for young artists for the last decade called CURRICULUM 0, which she credits with launching the careers of a new generation. Past winners include Adrian Villar Rojas, Luciana Lamothe, and Jazmín López. 

“My mission as a gallerist is still the same one that drove [my mother] to start this gallery: to support and promote Argentine art and give it international projection,” Benzacar says. Part of this mission includes traveling to as many art fairs as possible to give the artists international visibility; though for ArteBA, the Buenos Aires-based fair, she won’t have to travel far. Naming highlights from the upcoming fair, Benzacar mentions self-portraits by Carlos Herrera that use everyday objects to “speak of his own intimacy; his most private world,” and a performative work by Leon Ferrari, for which doves have been allowed to defecate on a reproduction of a religious artwork. She finds two meanings in the latter: “to question the posture of the Christian church (as he has done for years in his works) and to question the art world.” Finally, Benzacar describes a performance by Ernesto Ballesteros, who will create a work with his team during the fair. “His drawings are always collective creations in which teamwork generates pencil-trace landscapes,” she says. To visitors in town for the fair, Benzacar suggests paying a visit to her gallery to see an exhibition by Luciana Lamothe, to MAMBA to see the Sebastián Gordín retrospective, and, in true Benzacar spirit, to the young galleries, “which are usually the places where the most interesting scene takes place.”

Visit Ruth Benzacar Galería de Arte at arteBA 2014, May 23rd–26th.

Explore ArteBA on Artsy.

Portrait of directors Mora Bacal and Orly Benzacar 

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