Ibiza isn’t exactly known for art. As one of the world’s pre-eminent clubbing destinations, the island has a reputation as a hedonistic party paradise, making the rare, sometimes sterile atmosphere of Europe’s art galleries seem a world away.
But that’s starting to change, thanks in part to CAN (Contemporary Art Now), a new art fair that took place on the Balearic island last week and welcomed 36 galleries from 13 countries alongside 250 international collectors.
The event will be chaired by Sergio Sancho, director of the UVNT art fair in Madrid (now in its sixth year). “The idea was to make CAN something completely different,” he told Artnet News at the exhibition center last weekend. “Our idea here in Ibiza is to combine business and pleasure. We want our fair to feel special and instead focus on the carefree atmosphere of the Mediterranean lifestyle.”
For example, the fair was only open in the late afternoon and evening between 5 p.m. and 9 p.m. “Our idea was to give collectors and galleries a chance to network on the island so that the fair felt more like an experience than something that felt purely transactional,” Sancho said.
The fair itself, located in a convention center about 15 minutes drive from the airport, offered a warm, friendly and airy atmosphere. As Ibiza, it was also the only art fair – at least to my knowledge – with a resident DJ, Looka Barbi.
The galleries and artists were invited by art critics, curators and former editors Juxtapoz Magazine Sasha Bogojev. “When Sergio called me and asked me to curate an art fair in Ibiza, I initially thought it was a bit too optimistic,” Bogojev told Artnet News. “But once I started phoning around and speaking to galleries, I realized that a lot of galleries and collectors had connections to the island and were quite excited about the idea of hosting a fair there.”
“After wandering around a bit in studios from Brooklyn to Rijeka, I found a number of galleries, all from different backgrounds and regions,” a fact of which Bogojev, a former guitarist in a cult punk band in Croatia, is proud . “In my curatorial endeavors, I often try to spotlight artists from smaller countries,” he said.
CAN, which means ‘house of’ in the local Ibizan dialect, was full of mostly young and up-and-coming galleries. And what they may have lacked in experience, they certainly made up for in quality. Outstanding stands included Lundgren Gallery‘s solo presentation of work by rising star Jacolby Satterwhite; Allouche Benias‘s exhibition of hilarious and playful ceramics reflecting famous brands like Jake Clark’s Chanel; and Vickie Vainionpaas gorgeous tubular shapes presented by The hole.
With works priced between $1,500 and $200,000, the fair offered a competitive selection that proved enticing to collectors. In the end, according to Sancho, it sold 80 percent of the works on offer.
“In some cases, some gallery owners have told us on day one that they’ve sold the entire stand,” Sancho said, highlighting galleries like WOAW, Cob gallery, Johansson projects, afternoon galleryand Plan X as particularly good in terms of sales.
The show’s sponsor, the OD Hotels chain, presented two acquisition prizes, one for the artist Navot Miller (represented by 1969 gallery) and another to Juan de la Morenilla (represented by Veta gallery). The Bassat Collection also acquired two works including a beautiful painting by Manuel M. Romero (represented by Artnueve) and another by Russel Tyler (represented by the GAA Gallery).
“CAN brought a breath of fresh air to the somewhat outdated gallery landscape,” says the collector, whose simple name is @CyberKid, and who acquired a canvas by Spanish artist Javier Ruiz Perez from Galerie Droste. @Cyberkid also noted that Ibiza is an ideal place for an art fair in the summer. “The island is known as a meeting point for hippies, free spirits, musicians and artists – in my opinion an ideal place for an art fair like CAN.”
CAN also hosted a selection of related programs and events over five days, July 13-17. In addition to the main event, there was a Gucci-sponsored dinner at an organic winery and farm, a visit to the Museum of Contemporary Arta tour of Ibiza ceramists Laura de Grinyo‘s Studio, a visit to Ses 12 Naus, a private foundation and artist residencyy, and my personal favourite: a visit to the impressive Eva Beresin exhibition at La Nave de las Salinas, the foundation of Collector Lío Malca.
The only criticism I had was that the fair was held on the exact same days as another regional fair, the Art Monte Carlo in Monaco, which arguably meant little for those who could afford to fly by helicopter from a Mediterranean one to fly enclave to the other. However, it presented a challenge to your humble reporter.
Nevertheless, the positive response to CAN seems to be almost certain for future editions of the fair. The proximity of the island to Milan (just an hour and a half flight), Paris (two hours) and London (two and a half hours) could make it a destination for galleries interested in wooing collectors with holiday homes on and around the island, alongside the relatively sparse summer fair schedule. On the nearby island of Menorca, a Hauser and Wirth outpost was opened back in 2019, which Artnet News has already speculated about some clues to the future of the art market Destinations.
“Ibiza really is the perfect place to combine fun with art,” said French collector Raphael Isvy, who acquired a small work by Heesoo Kim from the Korean gallery Contemporary Art Now. “The vibe and the location were amazing.”
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