Though Mexico’s reputation has been sullied for decades by Hollywood, American media, conservative politicians and others, its capital possesses as much beauty and opulence as any American or European counterpart, and the energy of Mexico City’s art scene is never more apparent than in the first half of February. Typically, three major fairs— Zona Maco, Material Art Fair and Salón Acme—anchor a busy week, with the city’s galleries mounting their biggest exhibitions of the year amid an influx of international visitors. This week, despite the absence of one of the stalwart fairs, Mexico City’s art scene is poised for another marathon of activity.
The oldest and most prestigious of the three fairs, Zona Maco (until 13 February), is the largest in Latin America and one of the few that was able to hold a 2021 edition despite the Covid-19 pandemic. As usual the fair is taking place at the Citibanamex Center this year, with more than 200 galleries spread across four different sectors: Diseño (for furniture, jewelry and textiles), Foto (modern and classic photography), México Arte Contemporáneo (national and international art galleries) and Salón (antiques). This year the fair is also partnering with Grupo Espacio to present a music festival during art week, dubbed “Artsy Nights”, with parties, live performances and DJ sets taking place on rooftops, at mezcal bars, restaurants and nightclubs across CDMX on 11 and 12 February.
The Salón Acme fair (10-13 February), which began in 2013, is taking place in a former residential building in the Centro district. The fair’s main sector is based on an open call, with artists chosen by a rotating curatorial board composed of artists, curators, scholars, gallerists and museum directors. Its “Guest Projects” section, meanwhile, invites Mexican and international galleries to present a specific body of work by one artist at the fair. First-time exhibitor Liliana Bloch Gallery from Dallas, Texas will be showing a new project by Ann Glazer titled Luck be a Lady: Ritual Cloths for the Disconnected, featuring luscious hand-stitched works on velvet depicting mythical Mexican imagery and narratives. Most of the work at the fair is priced around $1,000, making Salón Acme an ideal starting place for novice collectors looking for an entry point to discover rising artists and collect their work at affordable price points.
Material Art Fair has forged a reputation as one of the most reliable fairs at which to discover emerging artists, but this year it has changed venues and seasons. The fair is striking out on its own and will take place 28 April-1 May in the Santa María la Ribera neighbourhood. In the meantime, Material is directing its audience to local galleries across the city, from Lodos (which is showing works by Sofía Berakha) to an exhibition of new Stanley Whitney paintings at Galerie Nordenhake.
A new initiative dubbed Arthouse Project is launching this week with A Moveable Art Feast, showcasing works from young galleries with strong creative visions at Casa Versalles (10-13 February). Participants include local galleries Llano, Relaciones Publicas and local women-run gallery Machete. Arthouse Project will also present Curator’s Salon, an exhibition of sculptural works by female artists organised by the Mexican art historian and curator Alberto Ríos de la Rosa, who is one of Mexico City’s most influential curators and currently directs programming at Casa Wabi.
Beyond the fairs, the February calendar is filled with major happenings and activations by galleries from Mexico City and beyond. Manhattan stalwart Mitchell-Innes & Nash has just opened a seasonal outpost on the ground floor of Galería Hilario Galguer in Colonia San Rafael. The first exhibition in the space is a three-person show featuring Tiona Nekkia McClodden, Lucas Samaras and Paul Mpagi Sepuya. (The site of Mitchell-Innes & Nash’s space has a history of successful pop-ups: Damien Hirst hosted his first Mexican gallery show at the exact location in 2006.)
Local heavyweight gallery OMR inaugurates its newest project, Lago—part-restaurant, part-art space—this week. Museo Jumex’s new exhibition Actions at a Distance, showcasing six commissioned artists producing performances and events outside the museum, continues through 6 March. And architect Agustín Hernández’s iconic Taller de Arquitectura building opens its doors for the first time to the public for the exhibition Por debajo del árbol (What Lies Under the Tree), a project bringing together contemporary works by 15 artists in dialogue with Hernández’s artistic vision.
Visitors looking to find out about art week parties should pick up a copy of Terremoto Magazine, likely to be close to hand at every fair this week. The publication—which has extensive essays and reviews in addition to party tips—is based in Mexico City and the brainchild of French curator and publisher Dorothée Dupuis.
Mexico City is most serene this time of year, with the jacarandas in full bloom amid breezy and cool temperatures. Hopefully gallerists and collectors traveling to the city for this week’s fairs have booked their reservations for Maximo Bistro, Pujol and Quintonil well in advance.