Contemporary art in Chile…

[23 Mar 2020]

Elodie Fulton, Director of the Ch.ACO art fair – announced as postponed on March 12 to counter the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic – explains how evolved the Contemporary art in Chile.

The idea of organizing an art fair in Chile was born in 2007. A small group of people from the art world, familiar with international fairs and convinced of their key role in stimulating the art market, joined forces and organized the first edition of Ch.ACO/Chile Arte Contemporáneo in 2009. For a first edition, the results were edifying, with more than 25,000 visitors. Since then, the fair has played a significant role in developing the visual arts sector in Chile and Latin America. Elodie Fulton, one of the founders of the project, now the fair’s Director, sheds light on its evolution and the future of the art market in Chile.

_PLL1848 Elodie Fulton, Director of the Ch.ACO art fair

What was the ambition of the Ch.ACO fair at the time of its launch?

Ch.ACO was launched at a time when Chile was trying to set up institutions around culture and the visual arts. In that context we thought that it was important for galleries and artists to be able to count on a market with relatively solid relationships between the various players in the art world. Not only via institutions promoting culture, but also through an entity which would give international visibility to the work of artists and would contribute to the promotion of Chilean art worldwide. But the objective wasn’t just about exporting or internationalizing Chilean art, it was primarily to attract a larger audience here in Chile and, at the same time, to democratize access to Contemporary art. In the past ten years, Chile has experienced significant cultural developments, from the creation of a Ministry of Cultures, Arts and Heritage in 2018, to the emergence of a new generation of private collectors who appreciate the importance of public and private sponsorship for the country’s cultural development. Increasingly, private and public institutions have come to understand that collecting is a duty, and that in the art world, making art available to citizens plays a positive societal role.

How is the art market in Chile doing?

In Chile, the art market, in the strict sense of supply and demand, is currently enjoying a very positive dynamic. With Chilean art having acquired an international reputation, Chilean artistic creation attracts a lot of interest. Many Chilean artists are represented by foreign galleries, which benefits the local market. These galleries come to Ch.ACO to deepen their knowledge of the work of Chilean artists; it is therefore thanks to the fair that Chilean artists are subsequently represented by international galleries. In fact, with the globalization of the market, Chilean artists have produced more complex works and broadened their creative perspectives. This is very important. Ten years ago, Chilean art was oriented towards politics or defined itself almost exclusively in political terms; today however, thanks to the market, the expressions are much more diverse.

Who are the Chilean artists most coveted by international collectors?

Many Chilean artists are remarkable, but before answering this question, it should be pointed out that for an international collector to be interested in a Chilean artist, it is essential that a national collector promote that artist. Ten years ago, this rule was not so systematic. We are very pleased the Engel Foundation is exhibiting works by more than 30 Chilean artists at the Sala Alcalá 31 in Madrid, alongside ARCO. The artist Paz Errázuriz has also received excellent international exposure and recognition since the collector Juan Yarur sold his La manzana de Adán to London’s Tate Modern a few years ago. This modus operandi pushes certain Chilean artists “into the system,” rather than waiting for them to be spotted in a more random fashion. For example, we know that the artists who participate in the Venice Biennale attract the interest of international collectors…. Well, our fair aims to encourage these international collectors to come and see the works of more than 150 Chilean artists.

And amongst the younger generation of Chilean artists, who do you think stand out the most?

Some, like Voluspa Jarpa, have already participated in the Venice Biennale, but in total we have around 150 artists, some emerging… others in mid-career… others established… working in a variety of different environments and media.

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