Art, Art History

ARCO Madrid 2020

Last week Madrid held an important art event: ARCO, the contemporary Art Fair most important of Spain and Women’n Art was there visiting and searching for the works of contemporary women artists.

I’m glad to say that I was surprised by the number of works of women artists (of course it can be improved). According to the organisation of the event, the number of women artists have increased, in 2019 they were the 25% and this year the number of women reached the 32%. We cannot talk yet about equity, but we can say that it’s on the right way.

In the fair I’ve found names of well-known artists such as Marina Abramovic or Mona Hatoum, but also other who were complete strangers to me. I don’t pretend to list here all the female artists who exhibited their works at the fair, it is only a small selection of those works that caught my attention or that moved me.  

Abramovic and Mona Hatoum

Portraits: “With skull with eyes” by Marina Abramovic
“Portrait with falcon” by Marina Abramovic

Two good surprises. Marina Abramovic is always a good surprise! I loved to see their works at the fair, especially because it was unexpected. As well as it was unexpected to see there the Hot Spot by Mona Hatoum which I’d been wishing to see in person for some time.

Hot spot is a cage-like globe tilted at the same angle as the earth which uses a delicate neon to outline the contours of the continents enlightening its surrounds with a red glow. This work has been interpreted as description of a world in a continuous conflict and unrest as well as some art critics see in it a questioning of the notions of boundaries. And maybe for its red glow I couldn’t help to remember all the fire that have devastating our planet in the last months.

“Womankind” and “De entre las muertas”

These two works deserve special mentions. The first one is by Maria Acha-Kutscher, in it the artist intend to resignify women’s history through interventions in photographs of different sources, to change the way of women’s image was constructed in the history of photography. And each image alone raises specific questions on the relationship between women and the patriarchal culture. In my opinion this fantastic work is very important to the history of feminist art.

“De entre las muertas” by Diana Larrea. This work is a tribute to the Female Master of Art History; it consists in present or introduce to the viewer some of the great female painters of history, exposing their biographies accompanied by their self-portraits. These self-portraits have been digitally modified by Larrea, to make them look ghostly, by simulating false cyanotypes. The work is a mix of historical research and feminist activism.

Other Works

“San Hermenegildo” and “La ascensión” by Isabel Muñoz

I love these two photographs by Isabel Muñoz. The photographs were taken underwater and in each she presented a dancer in stopped motion, instead of sinking they seem to rise weightless; their postures and the undulation of the fabrics are clear references to the baroque paintings of saints.

“Copa de agua y un clavel” and “Plato de estaño y ajos” by Pilar Pequeño

These works by Pilar Pequeño have their inspiration in the works of Juan van der Hamen, Luis Egidio Meléndez and Francisco de Zurbarán. Pequeño chose carefully the elements that are usually part of their still lifes and combined them with the light to create a new scene.

Symbiotic Mutualism by Juana Gómez

“Symbiotic Mutualism” by Juana Gómez is my favourite work of the whole fair. This work is a reminder that all manifestations of life are connected. Each life is a little piece of a big chain of our common evolutionary history.

I hope you liked the selection.