As the CAN air showground rang with spontaneous applause at the closing night happy hour with resident DJ Looka Barbi on Sunday 17e July seemed like a fitting end to what had been a truly effervescent inaugural exhibition on the hedonic island.
Although not completely new territory for the Balearic Islands, Hauser & Wirth having opened their art center in Menorca in 2019, Ibiza was definitely overdue the cultural touchpoint that the inaugural fair of contemporary art is about to spark. With the fair showcasing works represented by 36 galleries from 13 countries and attracting 250 international collectors, the fair’s curatorial size is actually quite impressive given that curator Sasha Bogojev only started contacting galleries in November of Last year.
Sergio Sancho, the charismatic Fair Director and founder of the UVNT art fair in Madrid (now in its sixth year), was inspired by the venue’s rich history of international creative communities and the relatively low traffic of art fairs. art during the summer season. Its focus on visitors engaging with the island as a whole and having a genuine Ibiza experience has been encoded into the festival with opening hours strictly limited to late afternoon and ending early evening so that the island can be appreciated by gallery owners and collectors.
CAN – aptly taken from the local Ibizan dialect meaning “home of” – presented a close-knit cohort of young international galleries (including The Hole, WOAW, Cob Gallery, Johansson Projects, Afternoon Gallery and Plan X) and emerging artists reflecting curator Bogojev’s own network which he built after years of association with Juxtapoz and which has been operating as an independent curator since 2016. With works moderately priced between $1,500 and $200,000, the The fair’s commercial success was very convincing with sales reports of up to 80 per cent on the works on offer.
Speaking to Bogojev, his insistence that the fair’s galleries, cultural agents and associated collector base should not simply be “parachuted” onto the island played an important role in staging the fair and its vision of its future development with a thoughtful and complete fringe. calendar of events and parallel programs to the main event that have been designed to integrate visitors and begin to form a strong dialogue with local cultural and creative communities. The new influx of creatives (having arrived before the pandemic but certainly accentuated in recent years with second homes quickly becoming main homes) deciding to settle on the island is just the latest in a long history of creative community building in Ibiza. However, this new demographic is wealthier, less steeped in the hippie craft past, with a stronger professional profile and is arguably more inclined to support the young international art scene that CAN is set to continue promoting. in future iterations. Including a Gucci-sponsored dinner at the organic winery and working farm of Alonso Colmenares, The Farmers Club, visits to the Ibiza Museum of Contemporary Art Museu MACE Eivissa and the Ses 12 Naus Foundation, a workshop opened with ceramist Laura De Grinyo, and culminating with newly discovered artist Eva Beresin’s private view of collector Lio Malca’s spectacular former La Nave de las Salinas salt store, building relationships with the bustling cultural scene of Ibiza is on the right track.
The CAN fair itself was an ode to the recent return to the figurative, with eerie, surreal and unexpected depictions of figuration winding a strong, brightly colored path through the fair, offering an assault on the senses that was very appealing to the painterly and the human, non-human and interspecific forms return to the room.
There were specially developed pieces that the artists had consciously or unconsciously made in response to the Ibizan environment with surreal beach scenes, celebrations of the hyper-sexualized human form and the technicolor hedonism it was made for. alluded to throughout. However, this is not to say that the aesthetics of the fair were endemic to its location. Perhaps as an inaugural edition, the works naturally simply paid homage in some way to the spirit of the island and offered a gesture of entry into an aesthetic dialogue with the place. The assault on the senses that shapes the practice of rising digital art star Jacolby Satterwhite has taken the form of a queer-club-bedecked virtual reality installation Kid abandonment presented by Lundgren Gallery, Palma. 1969 The presentation at the gallery of the works of Kate Meissner retains you with their grotesque and abject human figures which somehow suck you into the surreal vortex. Elsewhere, Jake Clark’s sardonic collection of provocative ceramics presented by Galerie Alluche Benias is destabilizing iconic brands such as Chanel and Prada and transforming the cycle of luxury consumption often written large in the traditional and elitist art market into a nebulous artisanal session. Milan’s Plan X showed Kalman Pool Lion King’s explosive biological mutation as part of their booth. Emphasizing the cute-creepy continuum, the inflatable animal-emoji hybrid hovers and towers above you as a symbol of virtual embodiment and a reminder of how physical figurative sculpting demands your undivided attention. sharing, regardless of its metaverse roots.
Addressing Bogojev on his theme of figuration which, in his words, he wanted “hold on odiously” he describes his process of selecting galleries and artists mainly from his network, made up of friends and collaborators with whom he has forged strong relationships over the years. His conviction to represent exclusively figurative works and his bold choice around this consolidate his curatorial vision because he concedes that it also reflected the critical mass of collectors gravitating towards this type of art. Walking around the fair and talking with the gallery owners, this approach brings a breath of fresh air to the traditional rigid regimes of gallery representation, as the project seems to have been built on this spirit of collaboration with Bogojev entering into a lively and close dialogue with galleries and artists. around which specific works to bring and develop for the fair. This is a rare, bespoke and carefully constructed format that moderate scale may have allowed, but certainly, something Bogjev aspires to retain for the future:
“From a market perspective, this may not be tenable in the future, but this specific type of extra curatorial moment is something I want to keep as a focus of the fair for as long as possible.”
For Bogojev, the unique brand of figuration borders on the surreal, the bizarre and is not rooted in reality or realistic representation, but in its terms reaches a point of the weird or the scary and deviates from literal representation. before “leaving” somewhere new or unexpected. . This is certainly evident through the breadth of works on display with pieces by artists such as Mai Blanco, Arjen, Aleksander Todorovic and Stickymonger being standout examples. This patchwork of young and up-and-coming galleries around the world also reflects another key curatorial penchant for very colorful and vibrant hues, and as you enter the fair your senses are stimulated as every line of site you encounter is a celebration of the stunning colourways, saturated pigment and unapologetically high-frequency chroma. Bogojev’s generous play of not only juxtaposing contrasting and opposing colors to each other, but also rotating established and less established artists throughout the fair experience serves to propel the artists and works underexposed in the consciousness of the art world and is a consistent strategy that he deploys in all the shows he has organized as he puts it:
“mix and match and recognize the artist’s spirit of sharing the limelight with others”.
As we speculate on future iterations of the fair, Bogojev confirms that a significant number of galleries who were unable to attend this year due to the tight schedule have expressed interest in attending, and with the imminent return of featured galleries in the inaugural edition already confirmed that the fair is called to take on an increased and strengthened profile. However, whatever wave is predicted around the fair, Bogojev is committed to continuing its unique artist-led curatorial approach and hopes to champion direct work with artists, driven by studio visits, to retain the dynamism and the playful spirit of testing the frontiers of living figuration. The inaugural CAN fair certainly left a sense that a new frontier was being forged for the art fair format itself, and Ibiza, as a site of ever-changing creative communities, seemed the perfect place for the revamp. and the celebration of the new figuration that permeates artistic practices today. .
Rachel Falconer is an independent writer, curator and researcher operating at the critical intersections of contemporary art practice, feminist technoscience, immersive technologies and networked culture. She has curated a large portfolio of exhibitions internationally and is regularly invited to speak at public events at art institutions. including Tate, Barbican, ICA, V&A, The Photographers Gallery, The Lumen Art Prize, The Whitechapel Gallery, Rhizome, Arebyte Gallery and Gazelli Art House. His writing has been published on a wide range of platforms including The Guardian, Frieze, Dazed Digital, The British Journal of Photography and The White Review.