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ARCOmadrid_2011 exhibition view. Photo: Ilze Žeivate

Subjectively on ARCOmadrid

I asked Žeivate her subjective opinion, as a visitor and professional viewer, after attending ARCOmadrid_2011. She answered, “I hope that ARCO will be more interesting next year. This year I didn’t find what I wanted. For instance, the Italian artist Mimmo Paladino, whom I like a lot, or a broader collection of works by Manolo Valdés; this year there were only two works… Comparing other years with this one, I didn’t see any surprises. What is more, there was very little painting. I got the feeling that people don’t know what they want to paint. Though in drawing you could notice common tendencies and directions. It’s been apparent for several years that drawing is assuming an increasingly larger scope of development, and that old techniques like woodcarving, linocutting, and aquatint are being revived more and more. They are flourishing right now, and are actual and interesting. In comparison, painting was little represented, and each gallery demonstrated something else. I perceive this as a confusion, not as a crisis for this medium. Today, painters are more interested in the process of self-discovery and subjective observation, not political or economic aspects. Therefore, insofar as each of us is different, this diversity was reflected by the paintings at the 2011 ARCOmadrid art fair. Collage has become particularly actual. At Art Forum Berlin in October 2010, the collages were sold out on the very first day. In Madrid, they appeared in countless variations, and at the end of the second day I had already lost interest in them. When a medium rises up anew so quickly, it can also exhaust itself just as fast… Black-and-white photography left a very good impression, particularly in the Spanish works. Spanish photographers have a real scope, with which they stand out against the overall backdrop of art. I discovered Grete Stern (1904–1999), and it was interesting to see many new works by Marina Abramovich.”

What Else Must Be Seen in Madrid

“I’d recommend ARCOmadrid,” Žeivate laughs, “because there you can best see the vividness of Spain and Spanish contemporary art of the last fifty years. And, of course, Prado!!! [Museo del Prado – M.P.] I think that the Spanish painters Francisco Goya, El Greco, and Diego Velázquez are very contemporary and actual today as well, that’s why they’re interesting, and you can discover them for yourself anew. Of course, Madrid’s architecture—both contemporary and nineteenth century. This begins with the Madrid-Barajas Airport (by architects Antonio Lamela and Richard Rogers), which has already become a monument of contemporary architecture and received the Stirling Prize in 2006!”

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