Merrill Lynch 2005

 Partial View of "Wrapping Ying-Yang". Installation. Mixed media on canvas wrapping ticket box and columns.

Partial View of "Wrapping Ying-Yang". Installation. Mixed media on canvas wrapping ticket box and columns.

In its third edition held between April 7 and April 11 at the Coconut Grove Convention Center in Miami, Florida, the Merrill Lynch Arteamericas 2005 art fair confirmed its quality and prominence, and simultaneously ensured the strengthening and insertion of the art of Latin America in the United States. Fifty galleries from 18 countries, -not only from Latin American countries but also from Spain, France, Canada and the United States -participated with more than 200 artists. Sales encompassed a wide spectrum of prices, ranging from 3,000 to 25,000 - 30,000 dollars. Without hesitation, the public chose to invest in painting as much as in sculpture, but they also opted for more challenging works such as installations, videos, and contemporary photography represented by digital and large format prints. Classic art was set in contrast with contemporary art, offering the public an amazing esthetic variety of high-quality proposals. Galleries showed great professionalism. Quality replaced the facile commercialism we have witnessed in other contemporary fairs.

Arte Americas featured masterpieces by the Classics of Latin American Modernism, among them a rare sculpture piece by Joaquin Torres-Garcia at galleria del Sur “Cafe, Escena de Paris” (Cafe, Paris Scene), dated 1927, a true incunabulum!!; at Aldo de Sousa, Buenos Aires; three seminal pieces from the 1940s by the Argentine master sculptor Enio Iommi, in which the viewer could perceive iron in the rough, marble marked by the stains of time, and the wonderful structure of dots and lines on the plane; an excellent oil-painting by Fernando Toledo, Mis Vecinos (My Neighbors), at Arte Consult, Panama; a magnificent 1972 drawing by Enrique Grau at Nohra Haime Gallery, New York; magnificent kinetic pieces by master Jesus Soto at Sicardi Gallery, Houston; at León Tovar Gallery, an oil by Fernando Botero, “La Madre Superiora en las Rocas” (1966), featuring a tiny, imperturbable nun on horseback, as an allegory of female power in Latin America, and a superb oil, !!!Portrait of Rosa Rolando (1930) by Diego Rivera!!! Particularly noteworthy was a wonderful Cessar Paternosto with an abstract-geometric -mondrianesque bias and seminal constructive pieces by Gonzalo Fonseca at Cecilia de Torres, New York. The highlight at Cernuda Arte, Miami, was the visual poetics featured by Mario Carreno in his “Exorcismos en el lago” (1989), and Roberto Fabelo´s “Ensueno” total, among other works.

Also worthy of notice were established exponents of contemporary art who are currently great names in collections in the United States and Latin America. Among them, Oscar Munoz (Sicardi Gallery, Houston), featuring a magnificent multiple presented as a palimpsest: a woman´s face in black and white, in the process of disappearing as a result of a de-constructive technique by means of which the artist outlined the face on the water in a wash-basin using carbon powders that dissolved when the water went down the drain. The artist photographed this process of deconstruction and of the passage of time as a metaphor for human finiteness. Evincing an impressive virtuosity in the field of neo-surrealist drawing, Hugo Crosthwaite (Art Space/Virginia Miller Galleries, Miami) exhibited two monumental fanlights in graphite on canvas pending from the ceiling, Hugolino I and II, featuring male nudes devoured in their corporal terribilita and showing amazing light gradations and chiaroscuros. Eugenio Espinoza (Alejandra von Hartz, Miami) presented neo-geometric, monochrome paintings in acrylic on raw canvas, dominated by a minimalist silence and clean straight lines crossing the empty space devoid of details. Magdalena Fernandez (Durban-Segnini Gallery, Miami) exhibited a cryptic photographic ensemble; digital prints of the fleeting glitter the water radiated during the preparation of the sets for the filming of her videos. There was a sophisticated transference of still images to images in motion in the evasive fractal lines of the photographs. Federico Uribe (Karpio+Facchini Gallery, Miami and Lyle O. Reitzel, Santo Domingo) resorted to surprising everyday materials “coins, pencils, paintbrushes, crayons- for the construction of his female torsos or his paintings in relief. Isabel de Obaldia (Mary-Anne Martin Fine Art, New York) presented female torsos in colored glass inscribed with symbols or heraldic animals enunciating critical metaphors for femininity. In a re-constitution of collective memory and identity, Atelier Morales (Nina Menocal Gallery, Mexico) showed a photographic investigation of the sugar mills of Spanish colonial times, which were once the banners of Cuba´s identity. This photographic oeuvre required an extensive research on these places in ancient archives in Paris and in antique Cuban collections.

Ronald Moran (KSAC Arte Contemporaneo, San Juan) presented an installation describing violence in the bar of a house through his well-known technique of covering objects and furniture with synthetic cotton cloth; particularly notable was the white innocence of broken glasses and bottles thrown on the floor as an allusion to domestic violence. Always grandiose, Nelson Leirner (Brito Cimino Gallery, Sao Paulo), presented an outstanding work featuring striking chimpanzee masks and mirrors; when the spectators viewed the work, they saw their faces in the mirror side by side with the monkeys´ faces, in an ironic parallelism between humans and their closest congeneric species. The photographs of Rochelle Costi (Brito Cimino Gallery, Sao Paulo), of a socio-anthropologic bent, unveiled a version of the Latin American identity. We discovered a brilliant small-format work by Edouard Duval-Carrie (Leyle O. Reitzel Gallery, Santo Domingo), Strange Moon ($12.000), featuring a striking red moon with the shape of a face in a box of acrylics, and Walt Disney figurines. The Robert Behar and Rosario Marquardt duo (Nina Menocal Gallery, Mexico) presented a curious sculpture piece “a small bird” in gold leaf that sang when the spectators approached it; an extremely interactive piece. Also, beautiful drawings featuring interchangeable narratives on a girl´s memory in flames. Oscar Paez (Diana Lowenstein, Miami), presented paintings-altars with ancestral utensils that recalled tribal rites. Outstanding for their quality were the works of Ruben Torres LLorca and Ignacio Iturria, at Praxis International; Graciela Sacco and Roberto Diago at Panamerican Art; Victor Vazquez at Galarie Intemporel; Oscar Oiwa and Ines Vega at Thomas Cohn Gallery, Sao Paulo; Francisco Larios and the duo Carolina Sardi/Pablo Contrisciani at Mackey Gallery, Houston; Cauduro at Acquavella Gallery, Caracas; Jorge Segui and Gaudi Este at Spatium Gallery, Caracas; and Aurora Catanero at Fernando Pradilla, Madrid, among others.

The non-commercial aspect was represented by EPHEMERAL/TRENDS, curated by the author of this note, which featured aerial and ephemeral installations by 18 Latin American artists: Giovanni Basile, Rakel Bernie, Jorge Brugo, Aisen Chacin, Amalia Caputo, Pablo Contrisciani, Lilian Dominguez, Guerra de la Paz, Liliana, Cecilia Lueza, Marcus Marin, Julia¡n Navarro, Andres Michelena, Sylvia Riquezas, Evelyn Valdirio, Pedro Vizcaino and Daniel Fiorda, who exhibited their talent for conceptual art and their great capacity to adapt themselves to architectonic spaces.

The best booths at the fair, selected on the basis of the proposals presented, were the ones representing Ines Sicardi, Brito Cimino, Karpio+Facchini, Nina Menocal, Durban-Segnini, Alejandra von Hartz, Kunsthaus Santa Fe, Isabel Aninat, Leon Tovar, Virginia Miller, Lyle O. Reitzel, Mackey Gallery, Praxis International and Walter Otero