Art fairs in Brazil

São Paulo will gain reinforcements in this first semester; AQA points out the possible impacts of this expansion

The number of art fairs in the world practically quintupled from 2000 to 2019. There were about 60 at the beginning of the century and went to almost 300 in 2019, in a still pre-pandemic world. If, on the one hand, fairs help to strengthen the art market, break down geographic barriers, present artists, introduce new galleries and reach new audiences, on the other hand, they demand high costs and efforts from participants: whether they are artists, galleries, collectors or other interested parties. 

No wonder the term fairtigue was created to indicate the exhaustion caused by participating in or exhibiting at so many fairs.

Earlier this year, news that generated discussions in this regard was the announcement that Art Basel (already present in China, USA and Switzerland) will hold a new art fair in Paris. It is due to take place in October at the Grand Palais Ephémère, the temporary location of the Grand Palais, while the original undergoes renovations. 

“We strongly believe in the dynamism of Paris and what is happening in the art market there,” said Marc Spiegler, Global Director of Art Basel, in terms of Bloomberg. The Grand Palais was, however, the annual home of the FIAC (Foire Internationale d'Art Contemporain) — in the same month of October. 

Despite the protests of RX France, the company that manages FIAC, the MHC Group AG, owner of Art Basel, committed to pay 1TP4Q12 million dollars to carry out the fair for seven years.

Brazil, in turn, did not follow this expansion movement. And, in this case, valuing quality is perhaps actually more advantageous than going in search of quantity. 

The fairs, around here, are the ones already known SP-Arte, which has been taking place since 2005 and has established itself as the largest in Latin America; The SP-Photo, held since 2007, and the ArtRio, which has been going on for 11 years. Despite contemplating galleries throughout the national and international territory, they still take place in person only on the Rio-SP axis.

This year, by the way, São Paulo will have some reinforcements. The first edition of ArtSampa (organized by ArtRio) will take place next week, from March 16th to 20th, at OCA, inside Ibirapuera Park. already the ArPa is scheduled to take place in June at the Pacaembu stadium.


Vista da SP–Arte 2019 no Pavilhão da Bienal, em São Paulo, foto: Ênio Cesar / SP–Arte
View of SP–Arte 2019 at the Bienal Pavilion, in São Paulo, photo: Ênio Cesar / SP–Arte

Of the 39 national art galleries participating in ArtSampa and the 132, including national, international and design, that will be at SP-Arte (scheduled to take place from April 6th to 10th), 19 are the same.

Fernanda Resstom, director of Central Gallery, was one of those who chose to participate in both — and in all the others that will be held this year. “In general, people look at fairs a lot from a commercial point of view, but they go much further than that. They are an opportunity to present your team of artists and the gallery's own vision to a new public — foreign, for example, when the fair is abroad. It is also an opportunity to meet people and vice versa: curators, researchers, art critics, institutions”, he points out. 

As the fairs will not exclusively present the same galleries, Resstom took into account the exchanges he would have by participating in both, and the possibility of expanding the group of collectors. “In addition, mainly due to the situation in Ukraine, people are resilient about traveling, so I preferred to invest in the domestic market”, he comments.

She would see more advantage, however, if all the fairs took place in the same week. “Thus, it becomes an important date and the probability of people wanting to travel here is much greater”, he says, giving the example of Art Basel, in Switzerland, which is accompanied by an extensive parallel program that is already mandatory for those who visit the country. In addition, he highlighted the importance of diversifying the programming with international names, so that collectors have contact beyond what is produced in Brazil. 

The diversification of fairs, in her view, is an opportunity to train new collectors, training that expands the market, instead of segregating it. According to her, the fairs have an almost educational job, whose objective is to bring society closer to art.

Also for Fernanda Feitosa, from SP-Arte and SP-Foto, the decision to opt for one or another fair is already something common for galleries and is not harmful. 

“The galleries already need to choose thinking about their strategies, the market they want to reach, so these choices are already part of everyday life, especially those who aim for a global reach, having to choose between the European, American or Asian markets, for example. ”. The main novelty of this scenario, according to her, is to think about whether three events in the same city will bear the expected results, taking into account the Brazilian reality. She recalls the fact that the fairs in São Paulo and Rio work with more than half of the public coming from the city itself, unlike Art Basel, for example, with most visitors from abroad. 

Therefore, it highlights the importance of creating new consumption centers as a component to keep the market healthy and sustainable. “The balance between artistic production and the flow of this production has always been the reasoning that guided SP-Arte. And this outflow, together with the dissemination and promotion of art, is a very fine, tenuous harmony. It is a balance between artists, galleries, collectors and museums that is very important to maintain the health of this market and not fray any of these pillars”. 

SP-Arte held an edition in Brasília in 2014, and others did not follow due to the unfavorable reality in Brazil in social, economic and political terms. But Feitosa guarantees that there is still a desire to expand outside the Southeast and believes that there is potential demand. 

Brenda Valansi, from ArtRio and ArtSampa, sees the first edition of the fair in São Paulo as a kickoff for future expansion. “Our idea is to go to other cities, taking the art market, which I believe is an important tool for promoting culture, to smaller cities with smaller models”, he says.

ArtSampa; foto: divulgação
Visitor at ArtSampa; photo: disclosure

In addition to the galleries, ArtSampa will feature 9 institutions, a conversation circle, video art and music programming outside the OCA. According to Brenda, unlike ArtRio, at ArtSampa the idea is for each gallery to carry out a kind of curatorship in its space, presenting only one artist or listing the names on display. The galleries are privileged, which often do not have spaces of such relevance in the art fair market and “now they will have the opportunity to show their proposals and their artists”. 

For Feitosa, this expansion — for the time being concentrated in São Paulo — could also mean a quick recovery of the post-pandemic Brazilian market. “At SP-Arte, galleries usually report that 30% of the year's deals are done at the fair”, he says. 

According to search Art Market 2021, carried out by Art Basel and UBS Global, global sales of art and antiques reached $ 50.1 billion USD, 22% below 2019. previous year and also reaching a record share of 25% of the market value. 

Regarding fairs specifically (365 across the globe were analyzed), the research shows that 41% of collectors with high purchasing power made a purchase at an art fair in 2020, while 45% bought through viewing rooms inside an art fair. According to the research, works with visible prices generated 92% of orders in their viewing rooms overall, demonstrating the importance of transparency when engaging collectors.

These are trends (digitization and presentation of prices) already followed by SP-Arte, emphasizing that the constant reinvention of the brand, in line with market transformations, is a topic as important as its expansion.

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