Madrid’s ARCO Art Fair Expands to Portugal With ARCO Lisbon

Can an art fair thrive amid political and economic uncertainty?

Collectors and dealers will doubtlessly look forward to an art fair in Lisbon's warm, mediterranean climate. Photo: adventurouskate.com
The fair will take place in Lisbon's Fábrica Nacional de Cordoaria. Photo: morgadioreal.com

The fair will take place in Lisbon’s Fábrica Nacional de Cordoaria.
Photo: morgadioreal.com

After establishing itself in Madrid as the premier destination for collectors of Spanish and Latin American art, ARCO is expanding to Lisbon, the art fair’s parent company IFEMA announced on Wednesday.

“This international expansion project aims to raise awareness and increase projection of the current Portuguese art scene,” organizers explained in a press release.

The inaugural ARCO Lisbon fair is scheduled for May 26 – May 29, 2016, and will take place in the heritage-listed Fábrica Nacional de Cordoaria, an 18th century rope, sail, and flag factory in the district of Belém, that once supplied the Portuguese maritime industry.

For the first edition, the organizing committee will attempt to keep ARCO Lisbon a relatively small affair, accepting only 40 international participants.

Collectors and dealers will doubtlessly look forward to an art fair in Lisbon's warm, mediterranean climate. Photo: adventurouskate.com

Collectors and dealers will doubtlessly look forward to an art fair in Lisbon’s warm, mediterranean climate.
Photo: adventurouskate.com

But, although Portugal doubtlessly has a vibrant cultural landscape, are Portuguese collectors prepared to invest in contemporary art, with the struggling Portuguese economy only just beginning to show signs of recovery?

What’s more, ARCO’s announcement of the new art fair was released on the same day that a leftist, anti-austerity coalition passed a vote of no confidence to oust Portugal’s center-right government. The political instability raises questions over the heavily indebted country’s commitment to fiscal discipline, and casts a shadow over the Portuguese economy’s growth potential, CNBC reported.

Despite the uncertain political and economic climate, ARCO insists that the stabilization of the Portuguese real estate market and a growing tourism industry will generate enough consumer confidence to convince collectors to continue spending money on art.

Leftist politician António Costa is poised to become Portugal's new prime-minister after overthrowing the centre-right government in a vote of no confidence. Photo: Zuma Wire/Rex Shutterstock

Leftist politician António Costa is poised to become Portugal’s new prime-minister after overthrowing the center-right government in a vote of no confidence.
Photo: Zuma Wire/Rex Shutterstock via the Guardian

In any case, ARCO believes that Lisbon’s dynamic and exciting art market warrants a major contemporary art event on the international fair circuit. The spotlight will certainly be appreciated by Portuguese galleries, and collectors and dealers would probably welcome a stay in Portugal’s mild, mediterranean sunshine.

Additionally, organizers rightly point out that they have the necessary credentials to attract collectors to a major art event even in an uncertain market, which they have demonstrated by growing ARCO Madrid into the world’s most visited art fair.


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