ARCOmadrid: Art Fair Highlights
Advisory Perspective

ARCOmadrid: Art Fair Highlights

By Rory Mitchell| Madrid, 7 July 2021

Spain's celebrated international contemporary art fair ARCOmadrid opens this week. Highlights include a series of etchings by Paula Rego at Georg Kargl Fine Arts, which are likely to be swept up in the wake of her acclaimed retrospective at Tate Britain; a subtly powerful work by Francis Alÿs, who will represent Belgium at the 2022 Venice Biennale; as well as stand-out sculptures by Eduardo Chillida and Antony Gormley.

Alongside works by established art-world names, including a new series of paintings by Douglas Gordon at Dvir Gallery and a signature text piece by Rirkrit Tiravanija at Galerie Chantal Crousel, the fair will also showcase rising stars such as Daniel Correa Mejía, whose luminescent paintings are showing with Mor Charpentier.


A speckled, faded white outline of two figures walking into the distance is painted on a brown background.

Francis Alÿs, Untitled (After the Blast), Nawaran, Iraq (2016). Encaustic, oil on linen on wood. 18.7 x 14.2 cm, framed. Courtesy the artist and Galerie Peter Kilchmann, Zurich.

Francis Alÿs at Galerie Peter Kilchmann

Set to represent Belgium at the 2022 Venice Biennale, Belgium-born, Mexico-based artist Francis Alÿs's observational work is the product of research trips made to border regions experiencing socio-political conflict.

Capturing the earthy tones of soldiers' uniforms and the surrounding terrain, Untitled (After the Blast), Nawaran, Iraq (2016) is Alÿs' response to a trip to Iraq while embedded with a group of Kurdish Peshmerga forces.

Alÿs has visited Mosul and its surrounding area for the completion of his feature film Sandlines (2020) in collaboration with the Iraq-based Ruya Foundation, most recently presented at Tai Kwun Contemporary in Hong Kong.

David Zwirner in Paris are presenting a solo exhibition of his work until 17 July.


The bottom half of a male figure is cropped to frame their crossed legs, the toes of which are dipped into a pool of water that is seemingly radiating light.

Daniel Correa Mejia, Cada puesta de sol se lleva alguna parte de mi (2020). Oil and sand on burlap. 160 x 120 cm/ Unique piece. Courtesy the artist & mor charpentier.

Daniel Correa Mejía at Mor Charpentier

Daniel Correa Mejia is a Berlin-based artist who paints vivid, exuberant bodies set against strange and unfamiliar backgrounds.

Born in Colombia and having moved around the world many times before settling in Berlin, his paintings come from a place of vulnerability and represent the importance of superceding identity in favour of human connection to the surrounding world, and one's own body.

Mejia was included in Mendes Wood DM's recent group exhibition, Male Nudes: A Salon from 1800 to 2021, on view in São Paulo until 12 June 2021.


A crowd on a hillside are foreground by a group of people in old fashioned clothing who appear to have just been engaged in war, with some of them resting, appearing exhausted.

Paula Rego, On The Hill (1996-98). Hand-coloured etching and aquatint. 29.5 x 45 cm (plate); 51 x 62.5 cm (paper). Courtesy the artist and Ostrich Arts Limited.

Paula Rego at Georg Kargl Fine Arts

Achieving legendary status for her figurative and extraordinarily powerful oeuvre, Paula Rego's unique works are among the most expensive of any living female artist. Showing with Georg Kargl Fine Arts for ARCOmadrid are an exquisite selection of small-scale hand-coloured etchings and drawings on paper. In her largest retrospective to date, Rego's lifetime of work is currently exhibiting at London's Tate Britain until 24 October 2021.

In a preview of the exhibition on Ocula, Laurie Barron notes that 'Paula Rego is known for her fearless, excoriating paintings depicting the vulnerabilities of human experience'.


A curved, geometric alabastro sculpture is photographed in black and white and features crevices running through its smooth surface.

Eduardo Chillida, Proyecto para un monumento (1965). Alabastro. 12 x 20 x 15.5 cm. Courtesy Cayon.

Eduardo Chillida at Cayon

Having studied architecture at the University of Madrid and drawing at Madrid's Círculo de Bellas Artes, Eduardo Chillida went on to become one of the most prominent Spanish sculptors of his generation.

Recalling his upbringing in Northern Spain's Basque region and guided by the principles of architecture, Chillida's small-scale sculptures explore space and organic forms, with the artist having a particular fascination for the concave curve.

An exhibition presenting Chillida's sculptural works and drawings is currently on show at Hauser & Wirth's Somerset location and its surrounding landscape until 3 January 2022.


A tall, narrow sculpture in rust-brown is erect in a white gallery space.

Antony Gormley, FRAME (2021). Cast iron. 202.5 x 50 x 33.3 cm. Courtesy Thaddaeus Ropac.

Antony Gormley at Thaddaeus Ropac

Thaddeaus Ropac are showing FRAME, a two-metre-tall cast iron work by the established British sculptor Antony Gormley.

A continuation of the simplified forms of his ongoing 'SLABWORKS' series, and based on scans of his own body, Gormley stacks square and rectangular blocks on top of one another to create a unique figurative sculpture.

Gormley's work is heading to the Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art, Sunderland on 24 July, where his Turner Prize-winning installation Field for the British Isles (1993), made up for 40,000 terracotta figurines, will be on view.


A framed painting on paper features pink, black, and white dots on brown paper.

Hamish Fulton, 343 Barefoot Paces, Wyoming 2017 (2017). Drawing and text on card. Framed: 24.5 x 30.8 x 3 cm. Courtesy the artist and Galerie Thomas Schulte, Berlin.

Hamish Fulton at Galerie Thomas Schulte

British walking artist Hamish Fulton creates works in a variety of media—including photography, illustration, and collage—to present a visual journal of walks he has embarked on throughout his life.

Alongside his art school contemporaries including Richard Long and Gilbert & George, Fulton's work is in the permanent collection of prominent international collections including Tate Britain, London and MoMA in New York.

Fulton will be included in Map and Territory. Environmental Art from the Panza Collection, a group exhibition opening 9 July 2021 at Hauser & Wirth, St. Moritz, looking at connections between the environment and minimal art.


A black and green photograph of an ear is overlaid with collaged elements, including black and white striped paper.

David Douard, birdzhandz and us ´2 (2021). Magnets, chains, aluminum, screen printed fabric, metal, screen printed wood, staples, plastic, aluminum tube, push pins. 106.5 x 76 x 11 cm. Courtesy the artist and Galerie Chantal Crousel, Paris. Photo: Aurélien Mole.

David Douard at Galerie Chantal Crousel

French artist David Douard began his artistic trajectory in the graffiti scene of his hometown of Perpignan, before pursuing fine arts at the National School of Fine Arts in Paris, graduating in 2011.

In Frieze, the artist once explained: 'Nobody expresses anything in the street now. Everything happens on the internet. That's the place you have to understand.'

Leaning into this shift, his assemblages straddle the digital and physical worlds, fusing found materials from the street with text by anonymous writers online.

The artist's current solo exhibition at Galerie Chantal Crousel in Paris, 0'Lulaby, is on view until 24 July 2021.


A curved glass sculpture resembles a flower in shades of white, black, and green.

Jean-Luc Moulène, Trifide 2 (Boroméan) (2018). Glass 20 x 59 x 52 cm. Marseille, July 2018 © Jean-Luc Moulène / ADAGP, Paris (2020). Courtesy the artist and Galerie Chantal Crousel, Paris. Photo: Florian Kleinefenn.

Jean-Luc Moulène at Galerie Chantal Crousel

Avoiding categorisation, Jean-Luc Moulène works across sculpture, photography, painting, film, and installation, using materials that range from organic to industrial objects.

His practice examines the role of artist as author, seeing himself as a poet and a 'technician' in his manifestation of 'the process of perception as an aesthetic'.

Trifide 2 (Boroméan) (2018) is characteristically ambiguous, resembling both a flower and otherworldly object, curling outwards as if in metamorphosis.


A faint printed sepia photograph of a woman who seems to be looking downwards is rendered on burnt canvas.

Douglas Gordon, Belongs to (2020). Gesso and mixed media on canvas. 83.8 x 46.8 x 5 cm (framed), unique. Courtesy the artist and Dvir gallery Tel Aviv/Brussels.

Douglas Gordon at Dvir Gallery

Memory and the passage of time are key explorations for 1996 Turner Prize winner Douglas Gordon, who made his name in video works and film projections.

In particular, his celebrated 1993 film 24 Hour Psycho encompassed a 24-hour, slowed down version of Alfred Hitchcock's film.

Gordon's new series of paintings take imagery from 1960s issues of Playboy magazine, which he transfers using acetone to burnt canvases marked with wax, acrylic painting, and other substances.


The words 'Once Upon A Time' are printed in capital letters on a rug.

Rirkrit Tiravanija, untitled 2020 (once upon a time) (map, 1961) (2020). Hand-tufted rug. 198 x 313 cm. Courtesy the artist and Galerie Chantal Crousel. Photo: Martin Argyroglo.

Rirkrit Tiravanija at Galerie Chantal Crousel

Rirkrit Tiravanija's work resides in major museums around the world.

His famous text pieces are among the most collectible of his oeuvre, which also spans installation, video, and performance.

Here, the phrase 'Once Upon A Time' is laid over an image of a 1961 U.S. map that has been woven into an Aubusson rug. Despite often containing political undertones, Tiravanija's deliberately ambiguous slogans encourage the viewer to make their own interpretations.


Rounded squares of colour are arranged in lines and delineated with broad strokes of colour, forming an abstract grid.

Stanley Whitney, Untitled (2019). Gouache on paper. 58 x 77.5 cm. © Courtesy the artist and Galerie Nordenhake.

Stanley Whitney at Galerie Nordenhake

Fascinated by the power of lines, Philadelphia-born, New York-based Stanley Whitney combines Minimalism with the saturation of Colour Field painting to create beautiful grids delineated by bands of colour.

Whitney's large-scale oil on linen painting Stay Song 40 (2019) was a recent auction success, selling for more than double its high estimate at Phillips Contemporary Art Sale in June 2021, for just over $200,000. —[O]

Main image: Paula Rego, On The Hill (1996–1998) (detail). Hand coloured etching and aquatint. 29.5 x 45 cm (plate); 51 x 62.5 cm (paper). Courtesy the artist and Ostrich Arts Limited.