The past weekend, the cordoaria nacional, a vast low lying building by the river Tejo where the ropes and cables for Lisbon’s sailing ships were once made, held the second edition of ARCO Lisbon, the local offshoot of the famed contemporary art fair annually held in Madrid.
The who is who of the Portuguese art biz along with a fair share of Spanish and Latin-American galleries sandwiched their stands along the wide hallways of what could be easily mistaken for a 18th century convention center. It’s a fairly local affair with a bit of international glitter, the franchise adding the bit of street cred that former art fairs somehow lacked. It’s quaint, cosy and familiar: after spending a few weeks in Portugal, one is bound to mistake the local contemporary art scene for a close knit family.
What Arco Lisbon might lack in spectacular installations, outrageous statement pieces, record breaking artists, or the shocking piles of trash posing as art that characterize top tier events, it more than makes up in low carbon foot print. Like a farmer’s market, the product is locally sourced and mostly organic, the vendors look healthy and the costumers happy.
Now-a-days these young guys come here, and start asking about valuations and investment potential, barely looking at the pieces.” Heart-warming.
Most gallerists I talked to were quite happy. The attendance was high, sales were good, and the weather was perfect. The countries most reputed contemporary art fair doesn’t eschew the pervading feel-good vibe.