By Felicity Clarke, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Rio steps out of the shadow of São Paulo’s art world prominence this week as the launch of ArtRio, Rio de Janeiro’s international contemporary art fair, brings over eighty galleries from all over the world to the Marvelous City. Taking over two warehouses of the Píer Mauá Port Zone, ArtRio has a dynamic program of galleries, artists, debates and parallel events with the objective of boosting the city’s cultural scene and drawing attention to Brazil’s burgeoning artists and collectors.
Organizers Brenda Valansi Osorio and Elisangela Valadares, experienced artist and gallerist respectively, were inspired by the vibrant art festival feel of the Miami Basel art fair. It’s an appropriate inspiration for ArtRio, as Brenda explains: “There’s a similarity between the cities, with the tropical theme and tourism…you can see that Miami Basel really benefits the city culturally and economically which is something we want for Rio too.”
ArtRio unites a mix of art galleries from Rio’s own innovative art space promoting Carioca talent, A Gentil Carioca, to New York’s Magnan Metz which focuses on non-traditional artworks. The fair offers a rare chance to experience contemporary works by artists the world over, contextualizing the works by current Brazilian artists (represented by galleries from Recife, São Paulo and Belo Horizonte as well as Rio) in the broader art world of today.
A major highlight of the program is the Solo Projects exhibition, curated by Julieta Gongalez from Tate Modern, and London-based editor, architect and artist Pablo Leon from La Barra. Works by ten established contemporary artists including Carla Zaccagnini, who’s showed at São Paulo Biennale and New York based multidisciplinary artist Pablo Helguera will be presented in an exhibition space which is a work in itself.
Artist Mauricio Lupini has created a lifesize maquete of a modernist room with a ‘white cube’ philosophy, commenting on the environment of the constructed exhibition space.
Complementing the exhibitions are a series of talks on contemporary art in Brazil and art collecting, art workshops for children and film showings.
Rio has always been renowned for its creativity and cultural output, however until now the vitality of the city’s visual arts production has lacked the commercial interest and economic boost generated by an international art event.
“The major Brazilian artists were born and live in Rio, but the market is still very young” say Elisangela. “Right now is a favorable moment in Brazil, economically and culturally. New collectors and new artists are emerging”.
Both the organizers and the city authorities who are supporting the event are optimistic about the future of the art economy in Rio, and the role of ArtRio in developing it. Municipal Secretary for Tourism Antônio Pedro Figueira de Mello says: “The Prefeitura has to make a contribution when we see an event is important and starting out…We hope next year it’s even bigger.”
Rio’s gallerists, who are representing the city’s vibrant artists, are enthusiastic about the city’s art market catching up with the artistic output. Guilherme Carneiro of Copacabana’s Inox gallery says: “The market has already grown in the last three years and this fair will give it a boom, because Rio has been somewhat forgotten. There’s an exceptional production of artists, however the strong consumer market has always been in São Paulo. But the face of Rio is changing.”
ArtRio is at Píer Mauá (Armazéns 2 & 3), Avenida Rodrigues Alves 10 in the Port Zone, September 8th – 11th, midday to 8PM. Entrance R$30, R$15 students and guests over sixty.