Art Collecting

The first CAN art fair in Ibiza embodied a hedonistic celebration of highly pigmented figuration. | Pro Club Bd

Kalman Pool, Lion King, 2022, courtesy Plan X Gallery

When the breezy CAN exhibition center on the final evening with resident DJ Looka Barbi on Sunday, 17th July saw it as a fitting conclusion to a truly bubbly inaugural exhibition on the hedonic isle.

While Hauser & Wirth is not entirely new territory for the Balearics with the opening of their art center in Menorca in 2019, Ibiza was definitely overdue as the cultural touchpoint that the inaugural Contemporary Art Now fair aims to bring to life. With the fair showcasing work from 36 galleries from 13 countries and attracting 250 international collectors, the fair’s conservative size is actually quite impressive considering that curator Sasha Bogojev only made contact with galleries in November last year.

Installation shot of CAN Fair, 2022, courtesy of Maria Santos photography
Installation shot of CAN Fair, 2022, courtesy of Maria Santos photography

Sergio Sancho, the fair’s charismatic director and founder of art fair UVNT in Madrid (now in its sixth year), was inspired by the site’s rich history of international creative communities and relatively low traffic to art fairs during the summer season. Its emphasis on visitors engaging with the island as a whole and having a true Ibiza experience has been coded into the festival, with opening hours strictly limited to late afternoon and ending in the early evening, to allow the island to be visited by gallerists and collectors alike could be estimated.

Stickmonger Installation, 2022, WOAW Gallery, courtesy of Sayana Cairo
Stickmonger Installation, 2022, WOAW Gallery, courtesy of Sayana Cairo

CAN – aptly adapted from the local Ibizan dialect, meaning ‘house of’ – showcased a tight-knit cohort of young international galleries (including The Hole, WOAW, Cob Gallery, Johansson Projects, Afternoon Gallery and Plan X) and emerging artists who are embracing the Curators reflect Bogojev’s own network, which he built after years of collaboration with Juxtapoz and has been an independent curator since 2016. With works conservatively priced between $1,500 and $200,000, the commercial success of the fair was very compelling with reports of sales of up to 80 cents on the works on offer.

Speaking to Bogojev, his insistence that the fair’s galleries, cultural agents and associated collector base were not simply “parachuted” to the island played a major role in the staging of the fair and his vision for its future development a thoughtful and comprehensive framework Schedule of events and programs running alongside the main event to integrate visitors and start a strong dialogue with local cultural and creative communities. The new influx of creatives (who arrived before the pandemic but have certainly been accentuated in recent years as second homes were quickly becoming primary residences) choosing to settle on the island is just the latest in a long history of building more creative Communities in Ibiza. However, this new demographic is more affluent, less embedded in the hippie craft past, has a stronger professional profile, and is arguably more poised to support the fledgling international art scene that CAN is poised to further nurture in its future iterations. Including a Gucci sponsored dinner at Alonso Colmenare’s organic winery and working farm The Farmers Club, visits to Ibiza’s contemporary art museum Museu MACE Eivissa and the Ses 12 Naus Foundation, an open studio with ceramist Laura De Grinyo and culminating in the vernissage From newfound artist Eva Beresin at collector Lio Malca’s spectacular old salt warehouse in La Nave de las Salinas, building relationships with Ibiza’s vibrant cultural scene is well underway.

Jacolby Satterwhite, Watertub for Demoiselle Two, 2019, C-Print, courtesy Lundgren Gallery.
Jacolby Satterwhite, Watertub for Demoiselle Two, 2019, C-Print, courtesy Lundgren Gallery.

The CAN fair itself was an ode to the recent return to the figurative, with displays of the eerie, surreal and unexpected figuration weaving a strong and colorful path through the fair, offering an assault on the senses that deeply explored the painterly and human attracted. Non-human and interspecies forms are returning to space.

There were specially designed pieces that artists either consciously or unconsciously created in response to the Ibizan setting, with surreal beach-like scenes, celebrations of the hyper-sexualized human form and hints of technicolor hedonism throughout. That doesn’t mean, however, that the fair’s aesthetics are endemic to its location. Perhaps, of course, as a first edition, the works were simply a homage to the spirit of the island and offered a gesture of entering into an aesthetic dialogue with the place. The assault on the senses that defines the practice of rising digital art star Jacolby Satterwhite took the form of a wallpapered virtual reality installation by queer club kids, presented by the Lundgren Gallery, Palma. 1969 Gallery’s presentation of works by Kate Meissner captivates you with its grotesque and pathetic human figures that somehow draw you into the surrealist maelstrom. Elsewhere, Jake Clark’s smug collection of provocative ceramics, presented by Alluche Benias Gallery, upsets iconic brands like Chanel and Prada, transforming the cycle of luxury consumption often capitalized in the traditional, elite art market into a nebulous one needlework session. Milan’s Plan X featured Kalman Pool’s explosive biological mutation Lion King as part of their booth. With an emphasis on the cute-spooky continuum, the inflatable animal-emoji hybrid hovers and towers over you as a symbol of virtual embodiment and a reminder of how physical figurative sculpture demands your undivided attention, regardless of its metaverse roots.

When he spoke to Bogojev about his subject of figuration, that’s what he wanted, in his words “obnoxious to hold on” He describes his process of selecting galleries and artists primarily from his network of friends and collaborators with whom he has developed strong relationships over the years. His belief in representing exclusively figurative work and his bold choice solidifies his curatorial vision, as he admits that he also reflects the critical mass of collectors interested in this type of art. Walking around the fair and talking to gallerists, this approach brings a breath of fresh air to the traditional rigid regimes of gallery representation, as the project seems to be built on this collaborative spirit, with Bogojev entering into a lively and close dialogue with the galleries and artists is which specific works are involved and which are to be developed for the fair. This is a rare, bespoke and carefully constructed format, perhaps afforded by the moderate scale, but certainly an element Bogjev would like to retain for the future:

“From a market perspective, this may no longer be tenable in the future, but I would like to keep this specific type of curatorial moment of figuration in the focus of the fair for as long as possible.”

For Bogojev, the unique style of figuration borders on the surreal, the bizarre, and is not rooted in reality or realistic depiction, but instead reaches a point of the strange or frightening in his words, dodging literal depiction before going somewhere new or unexpected.” going off”. . This is certainly evident in the breadth of works on display, with works by artists such as Mai Blanco, Arjen, Aleksander Todorovic and Stickymonger being prominent examples. This patchwork of young and emerging galleries around the world also reflects another key curatorial penchant for very colorful and vibrant hues, and as you enter the fair your senses will be stimulated as every sideline you encounter is a celebration of evocative shades is. saturated pigment and uncompromising high-frequency chroma. Bogojev’s generous play of not only juxtaposing contrasting and contrasting colors, but also rotating established and less established artists throughout the fair experience serves to bring underexposed artists and works to the attention of the art world and is a consistent strategy, which he applies in all the exhibitions he has curated, as he says:

“Mixing and matching and acknowledging the artistic spirit of sharing the limelight with others”.

While we speculate on future iterations of the fair, Bogojev confirms that a significant number of galleries that were unable to attend this year due to tight timeframes have expressed interest in participating and the impending return of the galleries featured in the inaugural edition are already confirmed, the trade fair will take on an expanded and sharpened profile. Regardless of that projected surge at the show, however, Bogojev is eager to continue his unique approach of bespoke, artist-led curating and hopes to commit to direct collaboration with artists, fueled by studio visits, to bring the vibrancy and the playful spirit of testing to get the character’s limits alive. The first CAN fair certainly left a feeling that a new frontier was being forged for the format of the art fair itself, and Ibiza, as a site of ever-changing creative communities, seemed the perfect place to recast and celebrate the new figuration that permeates artistic practices today .




Rachel Falconer

Rachel Falconer is an independent writer, curator, and researcher working at the critical intersections of contemporary art practice, feminist technoscience, immersive technologies, and networked culture. She has curated a wide portfolio of international exhibitions and is regularly invited to speak at public events at art institutions including Tate, Barbican, ICA, V&A, The Photographers Gallery, The Lumen Art Prize, The Whitechapel Gallery, Rhizome, Arebyte Gallery and Gazelli Art House . Her writing has been published on a variety of platforms including The Guardian, Frieze, Dazed Digital, The British Journal of Photography and The White Review.

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