Latin America's largest art fair ZONA MACO is set to arrive in Mexico City from 8–12 February 2023, bringing the best of modern and contemporary art to the thriving capital. Coinciding with Mexico City Art Week, the fair presents nearly 70 galleries from Latin America and beyond in its main section, with many more presenting in parallel events.
With international heavyweights such as Danh Vo at Mexico City's much-loved kurimanzutto, to first-time exhibitors in Latin America including William Brickel at London's The Artist Room, this year's edition of ZONA MACO is set to be a vibrant affair. Below is a selection of six works that piqued our interest.
Mark Bradford at Hauser & Wirth
Mark Bradford's new 'Ghost Ship' series—a run of 60 unique merchant poster paintings—will be making their debut at Hauser & Wirth's ZONA MACO presentation.
Considering his abstract practice has been predominantly defined by his papier mâché painting-sculpture hybrids, this new series, developed of oxidised caulk and paper, arguably represents Bradford's most focused engagement with a single material.
While the intensity of indigo and washed stone shades vary, the works are all brandished with the cargo truck image and text that reads, 'Truck Title Loans 909 967 CASH'—a nod to the economic struggles faced by lower-income communities in Los Angeles.
Look out for Bradford's major new mixed media work, to be presented by Hauser & Wirth at Frieze Los Angeles (16–19 February 2023).
Matthias Bitzer at Galería RGR
Mexican gallery Galería RGR can be commended for its diverse presentation. Alongside a chromatic work by the Venezuelan Op art pioneer Carlos Cruz-Diez, you'll come across one of Ding Yi's popular 'cross' works, and two of Jesús Rafael Soto's later kinetic works from 1999 and 2003.
However, it was Matthias Bitzer's mixed media portrait that piqued our interest. Celebrated for his ability to merge the figurative with the geometric and abstract, Bitzer's figure embodies a seamless unification of the three.
His classically rendered figure is seen dressed in a shirt built of irregular cuboid shapes. Her hands, merely alluded to through colour and form, takes it reference from historical figures such as the American poet Emily Dickinson and Euclidean geometry.
The Berlin-based artist has been a regular on the roster of Almine Rech, one of the German capital's top galleries. Last year, Bitzer held a solo show at the gallery's Shanghai space, marking his first exhibition in China and his sixth with Almine Rech.
Danh Vo at kurimanzutto
Showing with kurimanzutto, Danish-Vietnamese artist Danh Vo brings a French figure of Christ, measuring over one metre in length and cast in bronze.
Religion and religious figures are often referenced in Vo's work. At four years old, Vo's family fled postwar Vietnam for Europe. Speaking to Ocula Magazine in 2016, Vo described, 'I was raised Catholic and went to church every Sunday, and hated it. But today I feel fortunate to have been raised with this crazy iconographic imagery. You have to respect it. It's a culture that's brutal and bloody and perverse.'
From February to September 2023, Danh Vo's latest installation entitled Tropaeolum will be exhibited in the central rotunda of the Bourse de commerce in Paris, alongside other works and wooden sculptures from the Pinault Collection.
William Brickel at The Artist Room
The collaboration between recent Royal Drawing School graduate William Brickel and The Artist Room is quite the tour de force.
The Artist Room's inclusion in ZONA MACO EJES—the section of the fair dedicated to younger galleries, transitional spaces, and hybrid projects—marks the London gallery's international art fair debut since they set up shop in 2021.
For ZONA MACO, they're bringing three of Brickel's latest exquisite large-scale paintings. An English Country Garden (2022) is particularly marvellous, in part for the splashes of colour which set it apart from the more muted tones of his other works.
In Brickel's male-dominated scenes, figures are elegantly staged in moments of isolation, intimacy, or arabesque-like positions. With little to no context, his psychologically charged paintings leave you pondering on the state of human condition and the universality of experience.
Jenni Hiltunen at Mimmo Scognamiglio Artecontemporanea
Illustrating the contemporary zeitgeist, the hollowed female subjects in every Jenni Hiltunen painting and sculpture are well aware of being looked at—and tired.
In Stripes by the Window (2022), the artist forgoes the sharp lines and tonal contrasts known to her oil paintings, which emphasise the pale faces, heavy eye bags, and dissecting gazes of cheekbone-accented figures with imperfect features.
Here, quick lines render a reclining woman; her eyes dart to one side of the room, as the corners of her mouth fall. She is the mood that befalls every subject confronted with the constant mediation of their image—why bother?
Elsewhere, bright palettes and expressive faces suggest there remains space for optimism. Social media and advertisements may distort perception for some, but the Helsinki-based artist considers them a source of inspiration.
Shown extensively in Finland and collected by its institutions, Hiltunen's portraits find resonance with our times. Her international presence is reinforced with recurring exhibitions at Mimmo Scognamiglio Artecontemporanea in Milan.
Peter Schlesinger at David Lewis Gallery
The swirling forms and organic patterns of Peter Schlesinger's glazed stoneware speak to an aesthetic sensibility and joie de vivre that give shape to the exuberance of nature.
Schlesinger—the former lover of David Hockney and subject of Hockney's record-breaking painting, Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures) (1972), started as a painter and photographer in Los Angeles for six years before venturing into ceramics.
From London to New York, Schlesinger photographed Andy Warhol, Robert Mapplethorpe, and Vivienne Westwood, among others, and in the 1970s documented the fading landscapes of war-torn Yemen.
David Lewis Gallery presents two bottle-neck vases by the artist: one sand-toned, covered in a coat of black polka-dots of differing sizes; the other a blend of olive and beige, splattered with black undulating clouds and pinched at the waist.
Seeing these, one thinks back to Hockney's Yorkshire landscapes, which similarly dilute natural scenery into a lexicon of basic shapes. Schlesinger's vases too, return to something more essential, perhaps imbued with a nostalgia for simpler times.
Main image: William Brickel, An English Country Garden (2022). Oil on canvas. 200 x 180 cm. Courtesy The Artist Room.