Cynical or Savvy? Having Learned That Red Art Sells Best, Artists Created an All-Red Booth for the ArteBA Art Fair

UV is banking on the proven selling power of the color red in its vibrantly colored ArteBA booth.

Luciano DeMarco, Splash (2018). Photo courtesy of UV, Buenos Aires.

Some people say art fairs are not just about sales. These ritual gatherings, proponents claim, can also help dealers meet important curators, provide valuable exposure for artists, and offer an introduction to clients in unfamiliar regions.

But UV, a Buenos Aires-based gallery-meets-art collective, isn’t interested in any of that. That’s why they created a bright red booth for ArteBA, which opens to the public today. “Christie’s says the color that sells the most is red,” Violetta Mansilla, the director of UV, told artnet News during the fair’s VIP preview. “It’s also the color of love.”

The works—and all of the outfits worn by the participating artists in attendance—are the same bright hue. The presentation stands out in the fair’s Barrio Joven section, which features young galleries with a focus on emerging art.

Lolo y Lauti, <em>Tecnica: Besos</em> (2018). Photo by Sarah Cascone.

Lolo y Lauti, Tecnica: Besos (2018). Photo by Sarah Cascone.

Another point of inspiration for the stand was Brazilian conceptual artist Cildo Meireles, who in 1967 created the ongoing project Red Shift, an all-red living room.

In a nod to that historic piece, there was a red sofa in the center of the booth, above which UV artist Emilio Bianchic’s flamboyant Mariposa, a $700 photograph of the artist’s penis as the abdomen of a butterfly, was hung with pride.

Nearby stood a human-scale copy of Michelangelo’s David by Lolo y Lauti titled Tecnica: Besos, covered from head-to-toe with bright red lipstick kisses, and priced at $1,800.

“This is like our house, the living room of your crazy friends,” said Mansilla, noting that five of the artists actually live together, and that they all hang out and throw parties, like an elaborate-looking New Year’s affair advertised on their Instagram account.

Some of the artists of UV, and director Violetta Mansilla, at their booth at ArteBA. Photo by Sarah Cascone.

Some of the artists of UV, and director Violetta Mansilla, at their booth at ArteBA. Photo by Sarah Cascone.

“You could say that it’s a gallery, but we talk about it more as a project,” said UV artist Luciano DeMarco told artnet News. “We are a team.” (UV consists of DeMarco, Bianchic, Básica TV, Emilio Agustin Ceretti, Hoco Huoc, Lolo y Lauti, Maruki Nowacki, Guzmán Paz, Rodri & Lenny, and Jair Jesus Toledo, all of whom are between the ages of 27 and 37.)

DeMarco’s contribution to the vibrant display was a compelling, almost floral-looking sculpture titled Splash, a red stalk growing out of the center of what appeared to be a splash of pink liquid, frozen in motion and for sale for $900. He noted that it was the first time that the group of ten had all worked together to create a single unified display, although many of the UV artists are themselves duos or collectives.

A screenshot of UV's Instagram account, promoting their New Year's party. Photo courtesy of UV.

A screenshot of UV’s Instagram account, promoting their New Year’s party. Photo courtesy of UV.

Mansilla was dressed to match UV’s vibrant booth—as were all ten of the artists—in a long red dress with a circle cut-out on her lower torso. The best outfit was perhaps Rodrigo Moraes’s red sweater, hand knit by his mother-in-law and featuring a portrait of his canine collaborator, a tiny dog named Lenny. Together, they are Rodri & Lenny, an artist duo as legitimate, Moraes insists, as any all-human pairing.

“I try to make a concept that wouldn’t work if he wasn’t there,” said Moraes, pointing to his two channel video piece Puttin’ on the Dog, priced at $900, that shows Lenny in an artist’s studio while Moraes crouches in the desert. “He’s an artist, and I’m a dog.”

Rodri & Lenny, <em>Puttin' on the Dog</em> (2018). Photo by Sarah Cascone.

Rodri & Lenny, Puttin’ on the Dog (2018). Photo by Sarah Cascone.

All in all, the artists’ eye-catching red looks were nearly as compelling as the works themselves, some of which contained references to Argentinean culture that Mansilla had to explain to me, like “Gauchito Gil, a legendary cowboy of the pampas.”

The over-the-top presentation is UV’s way of going out with a bang: galleries can only show three times in Barrio Joven before graduating to the main fair, and they’ve exhibited in the fair the past two years. As Mansilla put it, “It’s our last year in the house!”

ArteBA is on view at La Rural, Avenue Sarmiento 2704, Buenos Aires, May 24–27, 2018. 

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