Battled scarred but unbowed – Arte Algarve leaves Lagoa but keeps its doors open

After many eventful – and always colourful – years in Lagoa winery, Arte Algarve is moving house.

There may be the whiff of business ‘difficulties’, stories of debts and missing paintings, but founder and director Rolf Osang is adamant, “the show must go on!”

Talking to the Resident as he plans a phoenix-like ascension in a “far improved space”, Osang agreed: “We have always had debts.” But his commitment to the artistic fraternity has been just as longstanding – and despite the ups and downs of the last few years, very few artists would go on record to say anything negative.

“He has done so much for art in the Algarve,” affirm his stalwarts, at least one of which is waiting to find out how she will be reimbursed for a situation “not involving Osang” in which a painting of hers was ‘sold’ to cover a debt.

“I don’t want Rolf any harm,” she told us – which may not be the feeling of the British investor who sent out what Osang dubs a “malicious” email to Arte Algarve’s artists earlier this month.

The mail alluded to “a large amount of historical debt”, a “company that was poorly run and ill-managed” and “unexpected debts and agreements appearing weekly”.

The investor wrote that he and his company had pulled all support and “will now take legal steps to recover the monies they are owed”.

But in a country where legal steps often end in oblivion, Osang appears untroubled.

“I am trying to keep things calm,” he told us.

Arte Algarve’s first club evening for the season is going ahead this (Thursday) evening at 7pm, and all kinds of perks and discounts are offered for “loyalty”.

Osang tells his client database in a mail this week: “I hope you continue to support the final weeks of the gallery in the Adega through visits and purchases, so that we can drive a clean end. The artists need you, we need you.”

As to the new venue, the quixotic entrepreneur and patron of Algarve arts said it will be “fantastic”.

“I am a fighter,” he affirmed.

Recently, Osang had handed over the reins of the gallery to daughter Julia Barg, but she has returned to Germany now, he told us, and he is “back in power” – promising news of where Arte Algarve will be opening up next … in November.
For now, watch this space – and anyone keen to catch the last Open in the Lagoa gallery can visit during normal business hours until December 12.

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