It’s almost time for the first Art Expo Algarve, an art exhibition which will bring together over 150 national and international artists together under the same roof.
Due to be held between February 10 and 12 at the Portimão Arena, the event is promising to become Portugal’s largest contemporary art fair.
Organiser John Ganhão has family in Portimão but lived for the last 25 years in the UK and USA, having recently returned to the south of Portugal after Brexit.
His time abroad made him “fall in love with art” whilst meeting artists around the world and learning about their different techniques and styles, but mostly seeing their “camaraderie” when participating in events of this kind.
“I decided to return (to Portugal) and start working on this project because I realised that there is no international event in Portugal and the south of Spain that allows artists to show their art and which attracts a large number of people interested in seeing a lot of art in a short period of time,” he said.
“There is a fair in Lisbon, ARCOlisboa, which acts as a complementary event to one in Madrid,” he added.
Thus, John decided to contact Portimão Council in 2020 with his idea to create a new event, which was “very well-received”.
However, the Covid-19 pandemic stopped the project in its tracks for some time.
The event was due to be held in 2022 but was delayed until this year due to the start of the Russia-Ukraine war, which caused “logistical chaos”, forcing a change of plans again.
Nonetheless, everything is ready for the event to finally be held for real.
“We never stopped working. We have over 140 international artists taking part. The venue is full,” John explained.
Organising the event during winter was a decision that boiled down to the availability of the Portimão Arena. There was an alternative in Vilamoura, but the venue cost “many thousands of euros to rent.
“We asked for a quote, but the price was so high that it would be impossible,” the organiser said.
The list of artists spans a wide range of areas, such as painters, digital artists, mixed media artists, photographers, sculptors and ceramic and glass artists.
“It will be a great collection of modern art,” John promises. “Some artists might seem similar, but after a more careful look it will be possible to see that they all have their own personal touch.”
Despite the delays, artists have remained very interested in taking part.
“Two percent of artists pulled out due to their own schedules. All of this period of uncertainty created instability, especially in the cultural world, because artists live off the income provided by showing their artworks, and not being able to do so for two years hit them very hard,” he said.
John is also hoping that the Algarve brand will play a big role in the event’s success.
“Many people come to Portugal for the first time because they have heard of the Algarve,” he said.
Regarding the selection of artists, John said that they were chosen carefully to allow emerging artists to benefit from the attention of some of the more renowned artists who will be taking part.
The goal is to have artworks on display at “accessible prices” for many of the visitors who will be seeing art for the first time.
Prices will range from €50 all the way to €10,000, with the average price being around €1,000.
John also clarified that the organisers are not charging any fee on artists’ sales and thanked Portimão Council for providing the venue, “supporting and never giving up on the project”, as well as providing a “small financial aid” to help promote the event.
Art Expo Algarve will be free to visit and opening hours will be between 11am and 9pm. The fair is wheelchair-friendly.
More information on the event, such as the full list of participating artists, can be found online at www.artexpoalgarve.com
Original article written by Bruno Filipe Pires for Barlavento newspaper