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Cool start for Bâlelatina, Basel’s “Hot Art” fair

The satellite fair nevertheless found its feet with its specialist area, Latin Art

Despite its new branding as the “Hot Art” fair, Bâlelatina had a rather lukewarm opening yesterday afternoon, with few galleries reporting sales. One of the exceptions was the New York gallery Freight + Volume (D1), which sold Michael Scoggins’s I Heart Chewy, 2007, at the VIP opening Monday evening to a French collector. The wall-size drawing, which looks like a page ripped from a giant child’s notebook, was priced at $9,000 (E5,800).

Once again, the organisers have invited contemporary dealers not specialising in Latin American or Spanish art, including Monique Meloche from Chicago, Galerie Vernon from Prague and Pierre-François Ouellette from Montréal. This gives the fair a fresh, emerging feel, with many of the artists showing aged under 35 and a sense of fun and experimentation in much of the work.

But the real strength lies in the Latin American and Hispanic art on view. Miami gallery Pan American Art Projects (C7) has organised an impressive solo show of Argentine artist León Ferrari, including works from the late 1970s and recent pieces, such as Conversation, 2007, a sculptural installation consisting of three, pink, amorphous foam figures sitting in a group. The work, from the artist’s collection, is priced at over E500,000, making it easily one of the most expensive works at the fair, where last week’s auction records for Latin American art appear not to have driven up prices—at least not yet. With Spain chosen as the “guest country” this year, nearly half of the 30 exhibitors were Iberian, including Vigo gallery Ad Hoc (B6), which has a wonderful selection of Manuel Ocampo collages on offer, such as the weirdly comic Primordial, 2006, priced at E12,000.