The first Feria de Arte Contemporaneo Emergente took place over the weekend, concentrating exclusively on young artists in the early stages of their careers.
It was largely an experiment: a first-time fair where the artists represented themselves, not through galleries, which is how virtually every other fair in the world operates. This resulted in unusual moments of direct contact between artists and collectors. While the set-up was nice -- food and drinks, DJs, great views -- I heard many artists complain that there just wasn't enough foot traffic. Maybe because whatever community of serious collectors there is in Mexico had already taken off for Basel in Miami?
In any case, there was some strong work here and there, and most people seemed to have had a great time overall. Here are a few works that caught my eye.
Above, Mexico City painter Rafa Uriegas at his booth, standing before a piece of many little versions of himself with beer bottles.
Puebla artist Marcelino G. Barsi collects used bars of soap from public restrooms and displays them in boxes, as if they were rare specimens of insects. His pieces were sold at the subversive little "Changarrito," a mobile art "stand" modeled after the countless snack changarros that crowd the city's sidewalks. The Changarrito is organized by artist Maximo Gonzalez and friends in Mexico City and Puebla who sold work this weekend. These included Carmen Puente and Armando Miguelez. (*See here for the Changarrito debut at ARCO in 2005.)
Queretaro artist Valerio Gamez made the news in 2002 when he held an open "casting" for the new face Juan Diego during Pope John Paul II's visit to D.F. for the 16th Century Indian's canonization. At FACE he presented Catholic Industry, a fashion-conceptual project of Christian symbols decorating racy ready-to-wear.
The most formally refined work I saw belonged to Mariel Quevedo, a chilanga painter who layers organic color forms to create these rich abstract compositions. Her piece in the VIII Bienal Monterrey currently at the San Idelfonso museum I thought was that exhibit's standout.
I really enjoyed the work presented by Gabriel Boils Teran, of Tijuana. He takes promotional paper toys found in prepackaged junk food and lays them out in these simple, symmetrical patterns, on lacquer-covered wood. He says his work is a re-envisioning of pre-Hispanic codices. To drive the point home he had books containting images of actual codices for browsing at his booth's table. The pieces are clean, sharp, funny.
Boils Teran told me he was interested in getting some of his work to L.A., as he had heard somewhere that reclaiming indigenous American symbols, myths, and spiritual practices was really big there. I could only tell him that he was right.