One can find the fingerprint of Bogotá in ArtBo, the premier art fair running through the Colombian city during a week of simultaneous festivals and events. In its 14th year, ArtBo (otherwise known as the International Art Fair of Bogotá) has brought together 70 galleries from 20 countries—with more than a dozen art institutions from the host nation itself. ArtBo has become one of the most important fairs in Latin America and an exciting stop along the global art circuit. Buyers attend, as do museum boards (including delegations from the Pompidou, Brooklyn Museum and PAMM) and, of course, more than 30,000 locals explore.
According to the Vice Minister of Culture David Melo, a self-described engineer working in the arts, ArtBo is part of Colombia’s developing “orange economy.” This is economic stimulation with a focus on arts, heritage and design. His words manifest everywhere—from gallery-rich neighborhoods to graffiti, much of it state-sanctioned, all over the city. This explains why Colombia’s Chamber of Commerce backs ArtBo, and their tourism entity ProColombia. The nation sees art as integral—and it is. From ArtBo’s extraordinary Sitio series of tradition-defying installations to several emotionally demanding works found elsewhere at the fair, large-scale art like the six selections below, reigned supreme.
Stepping into ArtBo, one is greeted by CH favorite Carlos Cruz-Diez‘s “Transcromía,” a swinging, optical installation of transparent, colored sheets. The Venezuelan artist has the work dated both 1967 and 2017. It’s represented on site by Mexico City gallery RGR + ART—and part of the Sitio series. In many ways, the work declares a mission statement for the fair, involving movement, fun and exploration.
Another Sitio entry, Colombian artist Carmen Argote‘s muslin fabric installation “Place On-Fold” is comprised of hanging wisps in light, gentle colors. Represented by Bogotá’s Instituto de Visión gallery, Argote’s piece comes full circle with racks of clothing that have been cut from the cloth hanging from the ceiling. Action is implied but beauty abounds. The artist drew inspiration from the Jardín de las Esculturas in Mexico, and, in this piece, she directly addresses the cultural mix of indigenous people with Spanish.
Arquitectura Emocional: Kiosko
Perhaps no piece saw as much use as Colombian artist Angélica Teuta’s pavilion-like piece “Arquitectura Emocional: Kiosko.” The Bogotá-based artist’s presentation is three-fold. First, there’s the actual wooden “kiosk” in which visitors can sit. Second, there are vibrant textiles stretching out in various direction. Finally, a screen inside the roof of the wooden structure loops a segment of Alfred Hitchcock’s Birds. Rather a classically frightening scene, it’s a sequence of flying calmly in the sky. This temporary work, also part of Sitio, was constructed between 2015 and 2017.
Un lugar en el mundo
It’s safe to safe that Juliana Sánchez’s 2018 work “Un lugar en el mundo” is alive. Featuring stratified layers of soil and vegetation, with a lush top-layer of grass the two-part work on wheels stimulates multiple senses. This quiet, beautiful work is part of ArtBo’s Artecámara division, which shines a light on young, unrepresented Colombian artists.
With gender an ever-important discussion, Colombian artist Camilo Delgado‘s 100-portrait wall collage addresses the depth and diversity behind it all. The artist (also known as CAMO) has created intimate, thoughtful imagery. Also part of ArtBo’s Artecámara section, this 2018 work is an exploration—and a valuable one at that.
Rainmakers (Creadores de Iluvia)
No piece stimulates quite like Miler Lagos‘ massive wood and water installation, “Rainmakers.” Much like a hamster wheel for humans, the piece moves when an individual steps inside. Meanwhile, the wheel collects a bit of water and rains gently on the user. The piece, first constructed in 2017, was brought to Colombia by Lagos’ gallery, Max Estrella from Madrid.
Images by David Graver