The International Art Fair of Bogotá (ARTBO) can count on many accomplishments during its last 15 years as host to the art world in the Colombian capital. We begin with some numbers to contextualize a fair that covers 13,000 square meters of exhibition space, has welcomed in its most recent editions 35,000 visitors each year and reached this anniversary with a showcase of 67 galleries from 17 nations.
These numbers, besides impressive for any international art fair, has consolidated ARTBO among the top tier events during the calendar year for gallery owners, curators and collectors. As the much-attended business platform of the Bogotá Chamber of Commerce (CCB) to promote established and emerging artists, one of the main reasons why so many wait for the doors of the Corferias exhibition grounds to swing open for this four-day event is its capacity to connect art with audiences, from those who know the leading names in the industry to others interested in building a collection. “The democratization of art has always been one of ARTBO’s main objectives,” states the Chamber’s Cultural Industries director María Paz Gaviria.
With its launch set for September 19, ARTBO 15 stays the course with its specialized sections starting with the Sección Principal where visitors can meet with representatives of galleries from Colombia and around the world. The domestic line-up covers every artistic genre and time with 300 artists participating, many well-known on the international art scene. For this year’s edition, the Bogotá gallery La Cometa will present a recent acquisition by the country’s most important living artist Fernando Botero, in which several Bishops can be seen drowning in a bathtub; and up for garbs should one fancy owing a Botero.
In Sección Principal with the well-heeled Colombian contingent are galleries from Spain (Elba Benítez, Alarcón Criado, ATM, Juan Silió, Max Estrella, Rafael Pérez Hernando), France (Mor Charpentier), Cuba (Servando, Acacía), Peru (Crisis, Impakto), Germany (Feld+Haus), Argentina (Isla Flotante, Aldo de Souza, Nora Fisch, Pasto, Rolf Art), Mexico (Karen Huber, Arróniz Arte Contemporáneo), United States (León Tovar, Plecto), Ecuador (Violenta) and Turkey (Zilberman). The participation of Brazil at this year’s fair is one of the largest with six galleries, among them Vermelho, Zipper and Central. The newcomers to ARTBO are Barcelona-based Polígrafa Obra Gráfica (Spain), Sao Paulo’s Luisa Strina (Brazil) and the Buenos Aires gallery Ruth Benzacar.
As part of the main gallery section, there’s a defined space of 21 square meters (21m2) given to emerging galleries that have been in business for six years or less. Among the Bogotá galleries participating is Casa Hoffman with an eye-catching wood and stone series.
One of the highlights of ARTBO is its capacity to bring to Bogotá large-scale installations that require plenty of floor space. In the section known as SITIO, the fair continues with the tradition of giving audiences a unique opportunity to interact with multi-disciplinary, mold-breaking works. This year, Chilean artist Alfredo Jaar’s provocative billboard This is not America will illuminate the main hall of Corferias, an electric artwork that was first shown in New York’s Times Square in 1987 and remounted there in 2014. The Zilberman gallery’s Pedro Gómez-Egaña will also unveil a major new artwork that references the Colombian-born artist’s penchant for multi-sensory and immersive work.
Proyectos (Projects) is the section that allows gallery represented artists to show completed projects to potential clients, and window on the dynamic art scene of the country. The international guest chosen to curate the selected projects of “15 Years of ARTBO” is Krist Gruijthuijsen director of Berlin’s KW Institute for Contemporary Art. Gruijthuijsen also curated the Referentes (References) where works are selected for their direct historical associations. For the first time in its trajectory, ARTBO’s María Paz Gaviria decided to tear down the walls and incorporate References as part of the fair’s visual narrative.
With a comprehensive program of lectures, free public discussions on art-related topics, in ARTBO’s international line-up are founders Alex Mor and Phillipe of the Parisian gallery Mor Charpentier. Aaron Cezar, director of Delfina Foundation will also be participating with a talk on his experience in London with artistic exchanges and residencies.
While art is a creative endeavor, it is also a business that must generate revenue for artists. In the section Artecamara, the Bogotá Chamber of Commerce presents works by 24 up-and-coming professionals who have yet to
get commercial representation. This is the introduction to the diverse themes and materials in the hands of the next generation of Colombian artists. In the section Libro de Artista (Artist Book) editorial projects with their own share of creative experimentation are available to the public.
ARTBO is, without a doubt, the cultural highlight of September and well-positioned as one of the most important art events in Latin America. Channeling Bogotá’s creative vibe beyond the brick and mortar of an exhibition ground, ARTBO forges connections, educates and entertains. For ARTBOphiles, this 15th edition builds on experience and curatorial expertise. Accompanying an extensive program of lectures, performances, and creative workshops there are open panel discussions free to the general public, and even though one may feel a novice, the only condition to enjoying this fair is letting one’s imagination take control.
For the complete list of galleries and program visit www.artbo.co or tap into social media to follow ARTBO @ feriaARTBO (Twitter); @feriaartbo (Instagram).