Two weeks ago Vienna was hit by a great number of artists, collectors, gallerists, or simply art lovers thanks to two big events dedicated to contemporary art: Parallel and Vienna Contemporary. Due to time restrictions I decided to visit the latter since, well, I don´t like to be redundant but, I kind of ran into it…
Vienna Contemporary is an international art fair born from an idea of Christina Steinbrecher-Pfandt in 2015, to gather more and less famous artists coming mainly from Austria, but also Central- and Eastern Europe.
I feel excited by the opportunity of visiting it, and very curious about the selection. I start walking around, being impressed by the size of the exhibition –120 galleries and 500 artists– and the variety of styles, techniques, and people. It is very interesting to find connections among the galleries coming from the same country, in terms of colours, materials, forms, arrangements. And together with the exhibition there is also place for open discussions and interviews. I am happily lost looking around when I realize the first talk is starting. (Now I really don´t want to write a journalistic article about it, even if that´s what it may result in the end; but I do find worth to mention some interesting things I have listened to).
The talk I attend is with Stuart and John Evans, a father-and-son couple of art collectors, who present themselves and their role in the art world.
A collector has a crucial part in supporting artists, helping them getting into the market, introducing them to galleries or sometimes even financing them; and as well their attentive eye and –most of all– their passion for art make them a touchstone for newcomers, whether gallerists or new collectors. This, of course, requires a constant dedication. For the last ten years, in particular, they have been searching for new art from Latin America and started to build a new collection.
While listening to them describing their recent travels to Brazil, exploring different little shops and ateliers, I can shape a very nice picture in my head: the talented hidden artist discovered by the resolute and fond seeker. And this is what I like to imagine in an ideal world: that anywhere you are, any background or environment you have around, if you are talented you will emerge. Well, collectors make it happen! And not only because they can afford to buy expensive pieces – on the contrary, often it is thanks to them if the quotations of an artist arise. But the first, main reason moving them is the deep love for art. Stuart Evans uses a beautiful sentence while talking about his background:
“Art is transformative, but when you commit it rewards you.”
Probably you can apply it to anything, sure; we are still talking about human intellect, and human intellect has multiple directions but the same modus operandi, in the end.
I keep looking around with one big question buzzing in my head, the one I didn´t dare to ask at the open discussion: how can you tell whether a craft/hand work is actually an art work? I look around and I see so many different works: some are beautiful, some are very well done, some are…a big question mark. The answer, though, comes by itself while imagining all the different stories behind any single brush stroke, behind the lens, behind every concept; some may like it, some may not; still, certainly there is a story worth to be told.
(to be continued…)