Two Innovative Brazilian Galleries Have Set Up ‘Surrogate’ Frieze London Booths Back Home in Rio de Janeiro

A Gentil Carioca and Fortes D'Aloia & Gabriel are trying out a clever approach to the online viewing room.

Arjan Martins's SEM TÍTULO [UNTITLED] (2020). Courtesy a Gentil Carioca.

Two art galleries have taken a unique approach their booths at Frieze London’s online fair this week. A Gentil Carioca and Fortes D’Aloia & Gabriel, leading Brazilian galleries and longtime participants in Frieze London, have installed their physical presentations back home in hopes that locals can experience the displays in person while those viewing from afar can enjoy something more novel than a flat website.

A Gentil Carioca, which is based in Rio de Janeiro, has taken over an intersection between its two gallery locations, which are across the street from one another, to present works outdoors. Fortes D’Aloia & Gabriel, which has locations in São Paolo and Rio de Janeiro, opted for an indoor venture with a group presentation called “Pulse.”

“In Brazil and in many other countries, people still cannot visit art fairs, museums, galleries, and cultural [places],” Marcio Botner, the director of A Gentil Carioca, tells Artnet News. “Our idea is to bring art to people, color the streets, and spread this spirit of union.”

A woven sculpture by Laura Lima hangs between the two buildings—and is also available in the gallery’s Frieze London viewing room for between £20,000 and £50,000 ($25,872–64,680). It’s a triumphant gesture; the art is given some dynamism and space to breathe. Botner says the aim was to “imagine the street as an extension of the art gallery spaces itself.”

Laura Lima’s Curupira (2020) hanging at Encruzilhada Gentil. Courtesy a Gentil Carioca.

A Gentil Carioca has been using the outdoor intersection, called “Encruzilhada Gentil,” as a gathering place for some time, but the ritual was interrupted by lockdown. The presentation for Frieze London is somewhat metaphoric: each work on the website is not necessarily on view IRL at any given moment, but all passed through at some point during the run.

A pair of paintings by Arjan Martins was carried through the streets, while Vivian Caccuri’s sculpture A Woman’s Work 3 (available for £10,000 to £20,000 or $12,944 to $25,887) hung off of a baluster. The gallery also installed água de beber, two water fountains, to provide access to potable water and to make hand-washing readily available for those in need.

Meanwhile, Fortes D’Aloia & Gabriel brought together works by Brazilian artists including Efrain Almeida, Jac Leirner, and Rivane Neuenschwander, many of which were tailor made for the occasion. In a year of isolation, sensuality, human touch, and erotica abound. A layered textile wall sculpture by Leda Catunda, available for £50,000 to £100,000 ($64,693–129,388), recalls tongues or phalluses. There is also a 1979 photograph by Robert Mapplethorpe; one from an edition of 10 is available at the Frieze viewing room for $17,500.

“Pulse” at Fortes D’Aloia & Gabriel. Photo: Vicente de Mello. Courtesy Fortes D’Aloia & Gabriel.

Alex Gabriel, partner-director of Fortes D’Aloia & Gabriel, calls the presentation in Rio an “overseas surrogate” for its Frieze booth. The gallery is also offering clients virtual walkthroughs to create more “sensory pleasure” than is possible in most digital presentations. “Both the fair and the collectors have found it a good solution to the current moment,” he says.

By now, the gallery is a veritable veteran of online viewing rooms, having presented at Art Basel Hong Kong, Frieze New York, Art Basel, Not Canceled, and SP-Arte before Frieze London.

“The virtual environment will not replace physical spaces, but there is no returning to the format we knew before,” Gabriel says. And while sales have dropped, he joins a growing chorus of dealers who say that the reduction in expenses related to hotels, dinners, travel, and shipping helped to balance the books.

Despite the duration of Brazil’s lockdown and the severity of its crisis, “the thirst for art continues,” Gabriel says. “It does not go away.”

Visit A Gentil Carioca and Fortes D’Aloia & Gabriel online viewing rooms at Frieze London.

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