Why the Art Basel fair is more important to street art in Colombia than in New York City

LOS MIROSAS GALLERIA MADRID YMIEGNORE — Patrons of the Art Basel fair have a repertoire of VIP treatment. They get treated to private chauffeur service and fancy food in extravagantly-themed restaurants like the Yvon Lambert.

But for the two galleries holding receptions this weekend in and around downtown Bogotá — Galeria Torreón and IMPALA — the Basel isn’t a one-off event. Its two-weekend run is considered a year-round economic accelerator for the nation’s street art scene, a staple of Bogotá’s vibrant but graffiti-centric cultural landscape.

“The artists of Colombia use the streets and public spaces as their canvases to express their strong and creative creativity,” said Carlos Pérez, president of the Confédiento Fuerza Cultural CC, a nonprofit promoting street art in Colombia. “Part of the intelligence and creativity of street art is how they use them to depict ideas, to show us what is happening, to learn, to create.”

Torreón gallery artist Sofía Gómez-Paz — who displays a series of holographic pieces and sculptural installations that she calls “universes” — will be exhibiting art this weekend in the hot spots that have drawn the attraction’s biggest crowd, like the park around Bogotá’s war memorial and the streets around the main avenues of “Calle 18” — known for its tony boutiques, art galleries and restaurants.

“I’m really looking forward to experiencing all the great culture and art happening in this city,” she said.

Patrons will also get a history lesson on the nation’s cultural legacy as well as details on two of its most famous artists — the late Joan Jonas and Luis de Armas — while viewing artwork from several more emerging names.

Impala’s 30 exhibits for the week include the work of artists like Nova del Fuego, Melchor and Olivia Aemili. For artists like Luis Rodríguez of the Day After Effect, who will be exhibiting in its final show for the season, interacting with the fair crowds is an important step in growing his international reputation.

“It will open up a lot of doors that have been closed,” he said.


If Colombian art is all the rage this weekend, Mexico is also producing quite a few shows. Mexican and Colombian artworks are common in each other’s home countries, and their influence is obvious in the rich imagery that has been turning up in Mexico for at least a decade. Mexican institutions like Fotobar and Museo de Bellas Artes also hold special exhibitions focusing on street and visual art. One of the shows happening this week at Fotobar, in Buenos Aires, is curated by the former head of Rio de Janeiro’s state art center, Renato Borges. His show, from Sept. 1-4, will feature 80 works of art, including his thesis at Rio’s Art Museum.

On Sept. 14-18, at Museo de Bellas Artes, Buenos Aires, is an exhibition from the Los Angeles-based artist Neeta Lechner in association with Chucho Garcia, an acclaimed Mexican painter. Giedre Lara, director of the museum, said she’s hoping to draw in those who “want to get a glimpse of a different language.”

And in a less-visited museum in the Argentine capital, at the Museo de Bellas Artes (or Monumental Art Gallery), there will be a solo exhibition by Johan Rebollo of eight new sculptures of 12 stones made from steel, mud and trees used to build the “el Fuego Naturel” bridge in Colombia’s Valledupar province. The artist is known for combining elements of Colombian and Mexican culture in his work.

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