The latest addition to the South American art circuit, Semana de Arte (14-20 August) is both an art fair and a multidisciplinary initiative. Taking over venues throughout São Paulo, the event includes architectural tours, film screenings, dance and theatre performances, as well as a three-day art fair at the city’s Hotel Unique. It’s an ambitious endeavour in light of the country’s ongoing corruption scandals and political turmoil, but dealers are optimistic that the timing of the fair, the veteran figures behind it, and the international interest in Brazilian art will make for a successful first outing.
“Most Latin American collectors are home and not traveling now, kids are in school, and winter is mild and dry,” says the fair’s co-founder and dealer Thiago Gomide, adding that Brazilians are accustomed to political turmoil and that interest rates in the country are dropping. “The idea is that this becomes a strong Latin American art fair, not national or global, but regional.” The veteran São Paulo gallerist Luisa Strina, who worked with Gomide, Emilio Kalil, and Ricardo Sardenberg to organise the event, adds that: “It’s much more interesting to have a small curated fair than those big fairs which are exhausting for collectors.”
Local galleries are understandably opting to show established artists with proven markets. Works from the 1970s and 80s by Antonio Dias, who is also the subject of a series of talks at the fair, are on offer at Galeria Nara Roesler ranging in price from $30,000 to $950,000. At Mendes Wood DM, historical monochromes by the Milanese painter Dadamaino share space with the São Paulo-based Paulo Monteiro’s minimalist sculptures, while a wall drawing from the 1990s by Los Carpinteros occupies the booth of Fortes D’Aloia & Gabriel.
Among the handful of international galleries participating in the invitation-only fair are the New York-based Alexander and Bonin and Luhring Augustine, both making their first foray into Brazil despite longstanding relationships with artists and collectors there. The former is presenting a two-person display with new photographs by Jonathas de Andrade—stills from his O Peixe (The Fish) video which was recently shown at the New Museum—priced at $7,500 to $9,000, and sculptures by Mona Hatoum on offer for $70,000 to $140,000. “Mona had a big exhibition at the Pinakotheke a few years ago and there’s a large audience for her work in São Paulo,” says the gallerist Carolyn Alexander.
Luhring Augustine, meanwhile, is collaborating with São Paulo’s Galeria Milan and the Turin-based Galleria Franco Noero to present a booth dedicated to the late Brazilian sculptor and performance artist Tunga—the first contemporary artist to show his work at the Louvre—with pieces ranging from $25,000 to $300,000.