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FIA 2004

ArtNexus #54 - Arte en Colombia #100
Oct - Dec 2004

Fia Caracas

Federica Palomero

FIA has reached its thirteenth edition amid a political and economic climate that works against this kind of event. In fact, the limited presence of international galleries is as apparent as is the absence of Venezuelan galleries that had participated regularly in the past. All the more reason, then to laud the perseverance and tenacity of the organizers in continuing such an important event in the face of so many obstacles, and even incorporating parallel events: Virtual FIA; the ¿Youths with FIA¿ salon; and an exhibition of contemporary Venezuelan sculptures. This year¿s guests of honor are Cornelis Zitman representing Venezuela, and Darío Escobar as international guest. The selection was appropriate: for decades Zitman has been a master of figurative, traditional-technique sculpture, and his research has allowed him to completely restore indigenous aesthetics. Escobar is a young artist who handles the symbols of our global society with great maturity and irony. The fair opens with two exhibitions of the corporate collections of Banco Provincial and Banco Mercantil. The first one pleases a conservative audience with a series of School of Caracas landscapes, almost all of them excellent pieces that stimulate reflection about changes in vision: they were the ¿avant-garde¿ of their time breaking with academicism, but today they appear classical and very traditional. We have grown accustomed to the outstanding, museum-quality shows from the Banco Mercantil foundation, a collection managed with criteria that are undeniably both rigorous and exquisite at the same time. This year it presented a small (in size) anthology of Elsa Gramcko, and, thanks to the excellent selection, display, and catalogue it, offered a valuable way to approach this artist. There was also an interesting tribute to the renowned journalist and founder of MACCSI, Sofía Imber. It was filled with evocative photographs of her career, drawings by Zapata, and portraits with more anecdotal than artistic value, and had great emotional meaning for those of us fortunate enough to work with her. Among the galleries, KBK from Mexico was especially noteworthy with photographs by Esteban Pastorino and Marcos López. It is a serious show that valiantly seeks to promote new generations of Latin American artists more than sales. Pastorino¿s work is a reflection on reality and fiction and their dubious borders; the more eclectic López bases his work on images where the local is interwoven with global icons within a plebeian iconography. FORUM gallery from Peru brought several artists, among them Gianna Pollarolo, a young creator, working with great delicacy on themes of transparency and shadow in a language that borders on conceptual. Better-known Latin American artists were also present at FIA, among them Manuel Mendive and Kcho, from Cuba. Mendive is represented by Joan Guaita from Mallorca with a series of very playful, almost naive bronzes representing fantastic animals from his magic world; Kcho presented a masterly series of drawings and an impressive assemblage of little houses on an inner tube at Juan Ruiz Gallery, Maracaibo. His discourse on exile, however, ends up being somewhat problematic. Among local galleries, 39 had the most attractive booth, as has been the case in previous years: it presented only two artists in a display that allowed for a good appreciation of their pieces. In this case it was Milton Becerra¿s well-executed variations on his series about knots and coins, and the work of José Antonio Fernández, a young artist who is bringing new life into the theme of nature, and into sculpture itself. Mercedes Pardo, a veteran, occupies the entire space of Altamira Fine Art with pieces from her most recent production that are full of vitality, creative freedom, and an almost ironic ¿revision¿ of her own career. The remaining galleries made the aesthetic mistake (or perhaps it is a sales strategy) of crowding their space with too many different works. One had to ¿fish out¿ those that were truly worthy. There are some very representative pieces from different periods by Alejandro Otero at Díaz Mancini Gallery. At Medicci, there were some magnificent pastels by Diego Barboza on his topics of recent years: the nudes and still lives that reaffirm the artist¿s empathy with this medium, which is so seldom used today. The level of quality at FIA 2004 is average, but it is important to support the continuity of this event, so well attended by the Caracas public, in the hopes that it will soon recover the prestige it had achieved in only a few years of existence. ¿



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