Place is a guiding factor for the Miami-based collector Mario Cader-Frech. His Salvadoran origins led him to become a champion of contemporary artists from El Salvador—and an honorary consul for the country in the US—while his time in Miami has nurtured an interest in Latin American art and, more recently, spending time in Madrid has fuelled a curiosity about Spanish art. In addition to collecting, Cader-Frech’s commitment to supporting artists from his home country led him to co-found Y.ES Contemporary, a non-profit that supports Salvadoran contemporary artists. This year, his expertise is informing one of Miami Art Week’s satellite fairs: he is serving on the inaugural ambassadors committee of Untitled Art (until 3 December).
The Art Newspaper: What was the first work you bought?
Mario Cader-Frech: A small painting by Keith Haring. Back in 1988, a friend and mentor who was the chief of protocol and art collection at the Inter-American Development Bank suggested I start my collection with Pop art. I paid $1,300 for the 10in-by-14in painting at a gallery in New York City. I then sold the painting in 1992 to finish my last semester of school at Georgetown University in Washington, DC, because El Salvador, was going through a civil war and my parents had no way of getting American dollars (except through the black market). Back then, you only got a paper certificate, and I gave it to the person who bought the painting. I’ve only sold two works of art in my entire life, and this was one of them.
What was your most recent purchase?
Last month, I purchased a work by Angela de la Cruz from Galería Memoria in Madrid. The work is one of her iconic monochromatic “folded” paintings in dark purple and blue. De la Cruz is one of the most important artists from Spain. I am just starting to collect Spanish artists because I now have a place in Madrid. This was similar to when I started to add work by Latin American artists to my collection when I first moved to Miami. The environment I live in has always influenced the direction of my collecting.
If your house was on fire, which work would you save?
A mummified Barbie by E.V. Day because it succinctly sums up the impact art has had on me.
If money were no object, what would be your dream purchase?
The Rubell Collection—including the building.
Which work do you regret not buying when you had the chance?
Any of Kehinde Wiley’s self-portraits. He had one of his first solo shows at a gallery in Washington, DC—I can’t remember the name—but they discovered Kehinde and brought him to the market first.
What is the most surprising place you have displayed a work?
I have a tiny graffiti work by assume vivid astro focus on the ceiling of my living room in Spain.
Which artists, dead or alive, would you invite to your dream dinner party?
Salvador Dalí. I find Dalí to be one of the most intriguing personalities and artists of all times. He led the Surrealist movement, which fascinates me, both in art and literature. He was friends with a Salvadoran woman, Consuelo de Saint-Exupery, who was married to Antoine de Saint-Exupery—both authors I admire. I would have loved to hear Dalí tell me stories about their lives, as well as stories of his contemporaries in art and literature.
What’s the best collecting advice you’ve been given?
Back in the early 1990s, the best advice I received was from [the art adviser and curator] Amy Cappellazzo: to collect and donate works by artists from El Salvador to institutions. This is ultimately why I founded Y.ES Contemporary: to create opportunities for Salvadoran contemporary artists. This year, the foundation will be presenting work by Studio Lenca—the working name of artist Jose Campos, who was born in El Salvador and is now living in the UK—at Untitled Art.
Have you bought an NFT?
I have commissioned five NFTs through Y.ES, including pieces by Beatriz Cortez, Antonio Romero, Orlando Villatoro, Ricardo Flores, Natalia Domínguez and Lucy Tomasino. The works were commissioned in 2020 during lockdown in collaboration with UXart, which has the platform to host works and convert them to NFTs.