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Fair report: Local galleries fare well at Zona Maco, Mexico City

International collectors and curators were out in force for the eighth edition of the Latin American art fair

A recovering economy and a thriving local art scene energised the eighth edition of Mexico City’s Zona Maco contemporary art fair where solid sales were reported by art dealers. Held in the Centro Banamex convention hall from 6-10 April, the event cost around $3.3m to produce with sponsors footing just under 10% of the bill. Although the fair got off to a slow start, by the end of the weekend 35,000 visitors had passed through the aisles and several dealers were expecting follow-up sales.

Zona Maco has experienced significant changes since its inception in Monterrey in 2002. After one year the fair moved to Mexico City; since then it has been through four different venues and as many name changes, as well as a legal dispute that dissolved the original partnership between co-founders Zélika García and Enrique Rubio. In 2008 García launched her own company, and in 2009 and 2010 she mounted shows in both Mexico City and in Monterrey installing Zona Maco Monterrey in hotel rooms owned by the art fair sponsor Habita. When asked if there will be a 2011 Monterrey edition, García admitted that the Monterrey fair had been put on hold “because of the violence and the need for security” in the northern region. She added that many collectors from Monterrey are now coming to the Mexico City fair instead.

Galleries participating in this year’s Zona Maco included Hauser & Wirth, Lisson and Zwirner, which added a measure of gravitas to the exhibition hall. “We decided to participate for the first time as we have longstanding relationships with collectors and the art world here,” said Nicholas Logsdail of London’s Lisson gallery. Selling mainly to Mexican and South American collectors, sales included three works by Ryan Gander from his 2009 “Associative Template” series, an Allora and Calzadilla piece from their 2011 “Solar Catastrophe” series, and a Spencer Finch installation that sold for $72,000. Other sales included pieces by Carmen Herrera, John Latham and Jason Martin. Logsdail told The Art Newspaper that, given the success of the fair, he will probably participate again next year. Over at New York’s Zwirner gallery, three Michael Riedel silkscreen on linen posters from 2011 sold to Mexican collectors for $18,000 each, and two sets of Francis Alÿs’ Untitled (from his “Prophet” series), 2002-03, were purchased by Mexican and US collectors for around $15,000 to $20,000 per set.

According to Zona Maco consultant Ana Sokoloff, the number of VIP collectors, curators and museum groups in attendance this year was double that of last year. International collectors such as Venezuelan industrialist Jimmy Belilty, US investor and collector Adam Lindemann, London-based art advisor and collector Nicolai Frahm, Belgian financial consultant Alain Servais and Miami-based philanthropist Ella Cisneros were seen walking the aisles, while curators from the Tate, the Museum of Modern Art in New York and Inhotim, founded by Bernardo Paz, were out in force.

Local galleries were the big winners, reporting extensive sales both at the fair and at their gallery spaces. During the first days of the fair Mexico’s Kurimanzutto gallery sold four drawings by Dr Lakra, priced at $8,000 each, a giant Allora and Calzadilla woodcut print on linen to a Mexican collector, and a Minerva Cuevas installation to Mexican financier Boris Hirmas for $40,000. “The fair has been improving astronomically in terms of the quality of galleries and collectors, while keeping the scale of the fair intimate,” said José Kuri, gallery co-founder.

A US collector picked up a work from Rafael Lozano-Hemmer’s “Shadow Box” series, begun in 2006, for $120,000 at Mexico City’s OMR gallery. Works by Iñaki Bonillas, Jorge Méndez Blake, José Dávila and Aldo Chaparro sold for between $8,000 and $20,000 to clients from Europe and the US. Meanwhile, at OMR’s gallery on the Colonia Roma, Gabriel de la Mora’s solo exhibition of 20 works was nearly sold out with prices ranging from $10,000 to $35,000.

Emerging female artists figured prominently in the project room section of the fair, Zona Maco Sur. For his third edition, Brazilian curator Adriano Pedrosa invited 20 female artists and their galleries to participate including Julieta Aranda of OMR gallery, Margarita Paksa of New York’s Henrique Faria gallery and Regina Silveira of São Paulo’s Luciana Brito gallery. “The projects were very strong and I liked the fact that there were solo shows by women artists from different generations,” said Catalina Casas of Bogota’s Casas Riegner gallery who sold pieces by María Fernanda Plata to local Mexican collectors.

Several galleries sold out their project room booths including Mexico City’s Labor gallery where a 2008 series of four works by Teresa Margolles, “Puertas Baleadas” (Shot Doors), were purchased by a Swedish, a Mexican and two US-based collectors. The pieces—sections of an enormous door riddled by machine gun fire—expose the drug war violence in Sinaloa, one of the bloodiest states in the country. Other prominent sales in the section included a sell out show of Pia Camil’s work at La Central Colombia gallery. Marc Spiegler, co-director of Art Basel, was impressed: “This is undoubtedly the most important fair in Latin America.”

Originally appeared in The Art Newspaper as 'Local galleries fare well at Zona Maco'