Saturday, 4 June 2011

Madrid Foto 2011

In this, the third edition of Madrid Foto, both the variety and quality of work on display was extremely high. Predominantly featuring Spanish galleries, with a strong French and Portuguese contingent, the location at IFEMA (situated very close to the airport) meant for a pleasurable easy destination with all the facilities and transport links that you would expect from an international art fair. Boasting fifty galleries exhibiting their artists, it is a manageable fair to spend a day or two without photo-overload setting in. With its focus on contemporary photography, the prices are also more affordable than vintage based fairs, thus it is perfect for first time and experienced buyers alike.

As our first foray at the fair Diemar/Noble Photography was pleasantly located next to the VIP area & opposite the free Expresso bar, which proved excellent for all concerned. Mishca Haller's work was very popular, especially with the kids as you can see here, with many toddlers keen for their parents to buy them this work in particular. Can't imagine why?

Then there was the ultimate insult with a young boys pointing to Lluís Artús' 'Catalan Gentlemen' & shouting, ''Daddy, daddy it's you!" This would have been fine had it not been placed next to the Brtazillian boys, who were somewhat younger & fitter than the 'gentlemen' next door.

Certainly photographers and students were out in force as well as collectors. The daughter of the King of Spain, Infanta Elena, Duchess of Lugo (Elena María Isabel Dominica de Silos de Borbón y de Grecia) visited the fair also, adding a little glamour to the proceedings.

The small presence of vintage work also encouraged new collectors to perhaps venture further into the genre. Historically, vintage works are more sought after by those collecting photography for their market worth as well as artistic merits. However, collecting contemporary work has its benefits also as the contemporary work of today becomes the vintage work of tomorrow. With more chance of building a personal connection to the photographer and supporting both them and their work, contemporary photography collections are an exciting way to experience the best photography, as an art form has to offer. During Madrid Foto I had the opportunity to meet many of the artists displaying their work at the fair. This unique opportunity especially with Spanish photographers meant that my knowledge was broadened as to the themes and concerns raised in their work. Gallerists were friendly and approachable, showcasing many photographers I had never come across before.

The overall aesthetic of the fair was bold and bright. Strong colours permeated throughout, with striking statement pieces such as Ricardo Valentim’s (Galería Pedro Cera, Portugal) huge bright yellow (on display, there are more colours in the series) ‘Start Series’ where the beginning of film reels from educational films from the collection of ‘Los Angeles Unified School District’ are laid alongside each other to produce a wall of colour (200 x 150 cm) punctuated with text, giving clues and new contexts to the original objects photographed.

Landscapes were also dominant features in the fair from the hard red, white and blue angles of Álvaro Sánchez-MontañésVerönd, 2010 in a contemporary topographical style, to the green-toned nightscape Exterior Night 17, 2003 by Christophe Dugied. More ambient and abstract landscapes depicting natural phenomena such as icebergs, reflections or the sea could also be seen to re-occur in several booths. Furthermore architectural imagery and architectural abstractions and interpretations were consistent throughout, using varying degrees of artistic license and Photoshop. There is a sense of adventure in the choices of works that were on show, taking risks, which may be a little louder than the usual photography fair fodder. It was refreshing to see many new works that had not done the rounds of previous fairs numerous times, keeping the feeling of the venue buoyant and lively.

A sense of play could be found in figurative work bordering on the surreal in many cases like Peruvian artist Cecilia Parades’ Asia 2008, of the Paisaje series, whereby a Japanese woman stands with her back to the camera wearing a patterned gown matching the wallpaper of the wall she is facing or Walter & Paloma’s (Walter Martin & Paloma Muñoz) ‘An Abduction’, 2010 as a tiny figure of a toy boy is dragged in the snow by a man (also a model or toy). With deep traditions in the Surrealist movement Spanish artists have dominated, yet Surrealism’s influence on contemporary art still pervades today in the works of photographers using the new technology available to them to bend the truth in order to create fantastical imagery.

Conceptually there were very fervent series of work on show, my favourite and indeed favourite of the entire fair was a body of work entitled ‘Intelligence series’ by Norbert Francis Attard, using lace and images of bombs, planes and even Marilyn Monroe to create riveting imagery.

The crossovers into other mediums were also in evidence, incorporating installation, sculpture, painting and collage into the photographic genre to great effect. There were several backlit works achieving varying degrees of success, some even on canvas. Whatever your taste there something for everyone and well worth a visit.

Image credits:
'Groovy camera bag' by Laura Noble©
Young boy wants a pink trycycle by Mischa Haller ©, 'On Bute' series
'Catalan Gentlemen' & 'Brazillians' by Lluís Artús ©
'Laura Noble meets a princess' by Estel Rovira Orozco

"Start Series" (Australia: Challenger of Growing N, 1966, South Korea: The First Twenty Years, 1974; Mexico Part II: Central and Gulf Regions, 1964; Nous em Voyageons France, nd; African Continent: Tropical Region, 1962)" , 2008, C-print with diasec, 200 x 150 cm by RICARDO VALENTIM©

From the series 'LANDNEMAR' by Álvaro Sánchez-Montañés©

'Asia', 2009 by Cecilia Paredes©

‘An Abduction’, 2010 by Walter & Paloma©

Inteligence series 23, 2011 by Norbert Francis Attard©
Inteligence series 35, 2011 by Norbert Francis Attard©

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