Hosted in the historic Cordoaria Nacional with spill-over events and exhibitions taking place all over the city, Lisbon paid homage to art.
The Cordoaria Nacional provided an excellent venue for ARCOLisboa’s return to the Portuguese capital. Completed in 1779 to manufacture sisal ropes, cables and sails for shipping, it explains the building’s unusually long plan shape running alongside the Tagus River. A perfect venue for an art fair.
ARCOLisboa 2023 provided a central hub and the place to be for art collectors, gallery owners, artists and creative professionals from all over the world. The fair has grown each year and was comprised of numerous quality galleries selected by an organising committee.
The general programme
Congratulations to Galeria Vera Cortês, awarded the Fundação Millennium bcp Award for the best booth at the fair by jury Filipa Oliveira and Julia Morandeira, a prestigious award and particularly well deserved with impressive art on show, in particular “Peça #1, #2, #3” produced in 2023 by António Bolota.
Each piece stands 275cm tall, sculpted from European Oak, with burnt tannin and a tung oil finish.
Bolota, originally trained as an engineer, creates sculptures that fuse with surrounding architecture, challenging the spaces they inhabit.
Portuguese artist, António Neves Nobre’s work was well represented by Galeria 3+1. Neves Nobre lives and works in Lisbon. His paintings are the result of a process focused on revealing and concealing layers of paint and colour, through various types of marking tools. The images are severed from figurative representation and have an atmospheric quality rendered by a tension between the form and background.
Galeria Presença from Porto showed an interesting series of works, “Uneven Geographies, 2023” by Marisa Ferreira. Her work draws from childhood memories of being born into a context of loss and industrial decline that characterised the 1980s in the north of Portugal.
She focuses on industrial ruins and processes of deindustrialization that took place in the aftermath of the end of the Portuguese empire. For me, her work has an accuracy and detail both satisfying and calming. Angular planes are balanced by softening and subtle colourways.
In 1969, Almeida started photographing herself, usually performing different poses in her studio, either alone or interacting with objects found in this space (chairs, benches, mirror fragments). Helena Almeida’s practice is often associated with distinctive blue, black or red acrylic ink strokes painted over black and white photographs.
NO.NO Gallery represented strong and visually dynamic works from Rui Neiva. Galeria Filomena Soares showed an interesting painting by Norwegian artist Fredrik Værslev using house paints, turpentine and spray paint on canvas, “Untitled (Roma) #15, 2022”.
ARCOLisboa had a strong international representation this year, in particular George Kargl Fine Arts who showed an interesting piece printed on thin aluminium by David Maljković.
Maljković is concerned with the eventful political history of his country Croatia and the consequences of evolving from a communist to a capitalist political ideology. His work often shows abandoned buildings and monuments of the 1960s and 1970s, which reflect the promise of a better future, while at the same time evoking failure due to their currently ruinous state.
“Afterlist 2021” is a curious work printed on aluminium foil that can be manipulated by the owner. For me, the work contains a positive message suggesting we can impact and control our surroundings as we individually manipulate the work, create culture, tear down establishments and shape our destiny despite a difficult past.
Alongside the general programme of the event, ARCOLisboa ran two other curated sections ‘África em Foco’, curated by Paula Nascimento with participating galleries from the African continent, and ‘Opening Lisboa’, curated by Chus Martínez and Luiza Teixeira de Freitas.
The Opening Lisboa section reflected an interest in showing new galleries representing novel artistic proposals. Selected by Chus Martínez and Luiza Teixeira de Freitas, with the collaboration of Diogo Pinto, the fair opened opportunity to galleries such as Anca Poterasu, Britta Rettberg, Livie Gallery, Ravnikar, Artbeat, Atm, Foco, Rodríguez Gallery and The Ryder Projects.
The Opening Lisboa space was specially designed by the Portuguese architecture firm Feeders.
África em Foco
The África em Foco programme explored and gave opportunity to contemporary art from the African continent, through the participation of eight galleries selected by Paula Nascimento.
ARCOLisboa2023 was organised by IFEMA MADRID and Câmara Municipal de Lisboa with the support of DGARTES, Fundação EDP, Fundação Altice, Fundação Millennium BCP, MEXTO Property Investment, AC/E, Turismo de Portugal, Turismo de Lisboa, Kinda Home, Bellissimo Cafés/Marca Grupo Nabeiro, Fundação Vasco Vieira de Almeida, Art Works and Ruinart, and the local coordination of the producer, Café Pessoa.
Durães-West is a contemporary artist and painter living and working in Portugal. His new studio, under construction in the Alentejo, is intended to be a creative space where artists, technologists, digital nomads and computer programmers can live, create, work and explore new artistic dimensions. www.duraeswest.com