On the Hunt for Young Talent, Collectors Flock to Material and the Even Edgier Salon Acme in Mexico City

Plus, we round up seven artists to watch at Material, a fair dedicated to young galleries.

Material 2018, in its new home, the historic Fronton Mexico sports hall. Photograph by P.J. Rountree.

If the second day of the art fair Zona Maco in Mexico City seemed a bit quiet, there was a good reason. The fifth edition of Material, an art fair featuring 79 mainly younger galleries from 33 cities around the world, was packed with collectors, curators, and artists, including Klaus Biesenbach, the director of MoMA PS1 in New York, and artist Pedro Reyes, who unveiled a new series of musical sculptures at Labor in Mexico City this week.

Fellow VIP guests flowed into the transformed the Frontón México, a restored Art Deco sports hall on the Plaza de la República. Up-and-coming Mexican architects APRDELESP, which took part in the Chicago Architecture Biennial last fall, have temporarily transformed the cavernous hall. Construction crews worked round-the-clock for five days using miles of scaffolding to create three distinct floors. (Think galleria meets panopticon—but on a tight budget.)  

Young artists attracting curatorial interest and a few with established museum credentials can be found on the booths, for example at Situations Gallery of New York, which is sharing a stand at Material with Fierman also of New York’s Lower East Side. Situations is showing sculptural work in metal and a dramatic woven piece made of women’s hair by the Bolivian artist Andrés Bedoya (priced between $6,500 and $8,500), who has had solo shows in US museums. Bedoya had a big solo show in 2009 at the Museo Nacional de Arte in La Paz, Bolivia. 

Chantal Peñalosa’s images of Baja California at “Estado Invitado,” courtesy of Salón Acme.

For cutting-edge contemporary art in another historic setting, collectors and curators headed to Salón Acme No. 6, an art-book fair and curated selling show of around 60 mainly young artists without gallery representation. 

Salón Acme, where the majority of works are on sale for around $1,000, fills three palatial homes in the gritty but grand Juárez district (around a 15-minute walk from Material). One of the buildings is roofless, and all the walls are distressed. (You could be in downtown Havana, such is the state of elegant decrepitude.) Noemi Ontiveros, Salón Acme’s director, told artnet News that the properties’ owner is happy to restore them slowly—and as funky-historic art spaces, they are first rate. 

Salón Acme is hosting several shows within the show, including “Estado Invitado” (“Guest State”), a topical exhibition of work that relates to Baja California, a region on the Mexico-US border that would be walled off if President Trump delivers his controversial election promise. Among the standout works are photographs of abandoned homes in the region by the young artist Chantal Peñalosa (priced around $2,000 each). (Quite a few US collectors from California, Texas, and elsewhere who are in Mexico City this week also have homes in Baja, albeit in a better state of repair.) 

Material and Salón Acme (which both run until February 11) underscore the scope of Mexico City’s offerings for entrepreneurial artists, curators, and gallerists. Typically, denizens of the local art scene wear three hats (curator, artist, entrepreneur)—and sometimes four when they begin acting as property developers, too.

The young Mexican sculptor Pablo De Laborde Lascaris, for example, has moved back to his hometown from London with his partner, the artist Adeline de Monseignat. They are converting a former tights factory in an up-and-coming neighborhood just south of Mexico City’s Centro Historico into studio complex with space for artists’ residencies.

De Laborde Lascaris and Manuel Muñóz, a Mexican curator and artist who has work in the design section of Zona Maco, co-organized the show “Synergia” at GAM, Galería de Arte Mexicano (on view until April 11). The exhibition marks a departure for the venerable gallery, which was founded in 1935 and is known for presenting Modern Mexican art by the likes of Diego Rivera and Rufino Tamayo. The show features large-scale sculpture by eight young artists, including De Laborde Lascaris, de Monseignat, and Muñóz. Works on show range from $14,000 to $40,000.   

Overwhelmed by all the city has to offer? We’ve plucked out seven of the most memorable artists at Material, one of the more talked-about fairs.

Rising Stars: Seven Artists Check Out at Material

Claudia Peña Salinas’s work at Embajada, Material, copyright the artist, courtesy Embajada.

Claudia Peña Salinas at Embajada, San Juan

On the stand of gallery Embajada in Puerto Rico, collectors can see why the Mexican-born, New York-based artist Claudia Peña Salinas is garnering so much curatorial interest. Salinas has a solo show this spring at the Broad Art Museum at Michigan State University and is in a group show at New York’s Whitney Museum of Art. A freelance art handler at New York’s Guggenheim, Salinas has a hectic few months ahead. Her Aztec inspired, elegantly constructed sculptures and manipulated images are priced between $1,000 and $5,000.

Florian & Michael Quistrebert, Overlight S2E3 (FMQ15 10) (2015), copyright the artists, courtesy Galerie Crèvecoer.

Florian and Michael Quistrebert at Galerie Crèvecoer, Paris and Marseille

The French brothers Florian and Michael Quistrebert (born in Nantes in 1982 and 1976, respectively) have two poured and illuminated paintings at Galerie Crèvecoer’s stand. One is the last remaining work in their “Overlight” series, which was the subject of a major show at the Palais de Tokyo in 2016. The white canvas, priced at $10,000, is embedded with white lights; two switches emerge from its gloopy painted surface (for the viewer’s convenience to turn them on and off, of course). The gallery has worked with the artist duo since its founding nine years ago. 

Charlie Billingham, Duplex (2018), copyright the artist, courtesy Supportico-Lopez.

Charlie Billingham at Supportico-Lopez, Berlin

The London-based artist Charlie Billingham’s love of British satirical prints from the late 18th- and early 19th centuries makes his work a good fit in Material’s historic sports hall. The stand of the Berlin gallery Supportico-Lopez is dominated by Billingham’s large-scale canvas, Duplex (2018), priced at $16,500, which features a tangle of bare-knuckled boxers pulling no punches. Meanwhile, Tournament (2018), priced at $8,500, features a slovenly lord who might benefit from some vigorous exercise. Billingham (born 1984) has his next solo show this summer at the gallery, which was founded in 2008.

Fritzia Irízar, untitled (Palimpsestos) (2017), copyright the artist, courtesy Arredondo \ Arozarena.

Fritzia Irízar at Arredondo \ Arozarena, Mexico City

The work of Mérida-based Mexican artist Fritzia Irízar (born 1977) eloquently questions the value of prestige buildings beloved by politicians and plutocrats that so often turn into architectural white elephants. She has abstracted starchitects’ wannabe-iconic shapes and laser-etched their outlines into burned wooden staves based on Japanese grave markers. Untitled (Palimpsestos de corrupción) (2017) is priced at $18,000. Irízar’s work has been included in group shows at the Seattle Art Museum and Mexico City’s Muac (Museo Universitario Arte Contemporáneo).

Isaac Olvera’s Your Image Will Be Weathered But Never Taken Away (detail), copyright the artist, courtesy Bold Tendencies.

Isaac Olvera at Bold Tendencies, London

The artist and playwright Isaac Olvera is presenting an ongoing project that links Mexico City with African hair salons in Peckham, London. A giant wig sculpture made from natural hair (sourced in Mexico) dominates the installation, which is organised by the London non-profit Bold Tendencies. The display also includes a video of a performance shot on the roof of a multi-story parking lot. Olvera installed versions of the supersized wigs on top of the building’s lamp posts, and local hair dressers adopted the image as a symbol of the neighborhood. Works that form the installation Your Image Will Be Weathered But Never Taken Away range from the big, hirsute sculpture (one of three editions priced at $7,500 each) to Olvera’s delicate drawings, a steal at $200 each. The Goldsmiths College graduate and now Mexico City-based artist will have a residency this year at Museo Experimental El Eco in Mexico City.

José León Cerrillo, Echo 14 (2017), copyright the artist, courtesy Andréhn-Schiptjenko.

José León Cerrillo at Andréhn-Schiptjenko, Stockholm

José León Cerrillo (born 1976) has work at two galleries in the fair: the Stockholm-based Andréhn-Schiptjenko and the Mexico City-based Joségarcia.mx. The latter has donated its entire booth to the young Mexican artist, who channels the graphic design and architectural legacy of high Modernism in his minimalist geometric sculpture and colorful two-dimensional work. Andréhn-Schiptjenko,  meanwhile, is presenting a wall of thermoform reliefs from Cerrillo’s “Echoes” series. Made of printed and vacuum-formed PVC, each unique work is priced at $5,000. Cerrillo, who took part in the 2015 New Museum Triennial, is an artist whose practice ranges from installations to performance in the tradition of the Bauhaus.

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