Mexico Art Week A Vibrant Hectic Tour – Virginie Puertolas-Syn

Mexican Art Week 2022

After exploring Oaxaca and the iconic Casa Wabi designed by Tadao Ando in Puerto Escondido, I was happy to be back in Mexico for Art Week. The City has so much to offer, from Roma’s old fashioned charm and architecture to the Barragan Houses, the delicious lunches at Pujol and Contramare. Not forgetting the Museums: my favourite is the Archeological Museum.

Not only is Mexico extraordinarily vibrant, but the whole week was hectic and exciting. A good contingent of the Art world caravan had come to attend the Art week.

With more than 200 galleries spread across four different sectors: Design, Photography, Art and Salon, Zona Maco which takes place at the Centro Citibanamex convention centre, is the most important Art Fair in Latin America. The Fair’s VIP opening was festive and joyful, with many familiar faces from the International Art crowd venturing through the aisles of the fair.

The two Mexican powerhouse galleries O.M.R and Kurimanzutto, both had very good presentations.

Jose Davila - O.M.R @ Zona Maco
Jose Davila, O.M.R at Zona Maco

Jose Dávila at O.M.R, known for his architectural assemblages, had a stunning harmonious painting of colourful circles. The Guadalajara based, self-taught artist, has spent the pandemic researching the circle: as a symbol of perfection and human progress.

At Kurimanzutto, I really enjoyed Bárbara Sánchez-Kane’s graphic painting. Like a punch in the stomach her painting doesn’t leave the viewer intact. The fashion designer/ Contemporary artist addresses issues of hegemonic masculinity, the social construction of gender and sexuality in a very daring way.

On a totally different spectrum, I was taken by Sofía Táboas painting and her way of investigating space, allowing the painting to grow outside of the frame like a metaphor of Freedom.

Another local player is Maia Contemporary which presented a duo show of two Mexican artists I had the pleasure of meeting and visiting their studio. Pedro Friedeberg, now in his 80s, was friends with the surrealists, a star in the 60s and 70s and is now having a much well deserved come back. His work is easily identifiable with the architectural drawing, unusual compositions and hallucinogenic repetition of elements, visiting his “Museum/Studio” in ROMA was an unforgettable experience.

On the other side of the aisle was Sabino Guisu’s works. I visited Sabino’s studio in Oaxaca, often presented as Francisco Toledo’s (his mentor) artistic heir. His work can be considered a contemporary and spiritual examination of his Zapotec heritage and culture with a Pop Art twist. His latest exhibition at Maia Contemporary in Mexico city reinterprets the god Cocijo, the deity of rain and lightning among the ancient Zapotecs as a pop culture of Art-Toys.

I had a true “Coup de Coeur” at Galerie 193 from Paris, discovering the colourful body of work of the multimedia artist

Alia Ali. The Yemenite, Bosnian, American artist presents a daring and truly original body of work. Not only does she photograph concealed portraits wrapped into traditional ikat textiles, but she sets up the photograph within a full installation incorporating the frame, playing with the space. Having travelled in more than 67 countries, she uses the layers of textiles to tackle histories of colonialism, migration, imperialism and war in a pleasing and aesthetic way.

At Duran Mashaal gallery from Montreal, The Chilean, London based artist Livia Martin had a delicate and poetic presentation. Her photography collage of fractured cups, saucers, and teapots with golden thread, addresses the issue of consumerism by referring to the ancient Japanese art of kintsugi (which can turn a broken object into something more exquisite than it was before).

Gala Knorr, Pablo's Birthday Gallery NY, Salon Acme
Gala Knorr, Pablo’s Birthday Gallery NY, Salon Acme

Traditionally there are 3 Art fairs in Mexico during the art week: Zona Maco, Salon Acme and Material. Two only took place this year as Material will be held in May. So I went to visit Salon Acme right in the centre of the city in a stunning derelict building to discover younger artists. I loved the solo presentation of the young Spanish artist Gala Knorr at Pablo’s Birthday Gallery from New York. The young painter already has gained prizes and recognition offers a fun cynical critic of celebrities.

I ventured to the former Casa Wabi headquarter, which has become an alternative Art centre called Caleta: founded by the real-estate developer, collector and patron of the arts Alexander Melas-Kyriazi and Mateo Pizarro, artist, artistic director and curator. Located in a beautiful house from the 50s Caleta’s vocation is to offer artists studios as well as exhibition and performance space for both visual artists and musicians. The first exhibition show, “Standing waves”, is a group show with 40 artists both Mexican and International. I was taken by the delicate and poetic wave of Beatrice Morales, a Mexican artist based in Berlin, who works with textile, natural fibres from cactus using traditional dying process in her craft.

One of the highlights of the week was OMR new Art Space inauguration and party on the Wednesday evening. “ALGO”, the name of the space, is set up in the LAGO, the iconic building in Chapultepec Park, built in 1964 by architect Alfonso Ramírez Ponce. The inaugural exhibition, ‘Form Follows Energy’ in collaboration with joségarcía ,mx, presents more than 45 pieces, some of them monumental, by 27 artists like Atelier Van Lieshout, Matti Braun, Pia Camil, Gabriel Rico, Trix & Robert, Alicia Kwade & James Turrell is on view through August 16, 2022.

Mexico Art week was a blast, certainly more for the visitors than for the gallerists: sales were slightly disappointing, I was told.

I left the city for Frieze LA, with the certainty that I will be back next year.

Words and photos: Virginie Puertolas-Syn

Mexico Art Week Took place 9-13 February 2022 Read More

Read more from Virginie Puertolas-Syn’s travels Here


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