Lisbon Rendezvous

Left: Collector Carmen Serrano-Suñer and artist Carlos Garaicoa. Right: Artist Marcelo Cidade and dealer Marina Buendia.

“WE THOUGHT ABOUT EXPANDING TO LATIN AMERICA, but it was more complicated. So we decided to open a gallery here,” Pedro Maisterra said at the inauguration of his and Belén Valbuena’s new gallery branch in Lisbon’s Alvalade barrio. “Spain and Portugal don’t usually look at each other, which is crazy when you think about it! But it’s ripe with great energy.”

The Portuguese art scene was lush indeed, as lush as the blue jacaranda blossoming across the city. The patio in front of the new space was already lively when we arrived, straight from the opening of Carlos Garaicoa’s massive installation Utopia/Dystopia at the Museu de Arte, Arquitetura e Tecnologia on the banks of the Tejo River in Belém. “This is the biggest sculpture I’ve made in my life,” exclaimed Garaicoa, looking from the ramp above at the 10,000-square-foot atrium containing the mix of greenery and urban furniture that make up his installation. The new kunsthalle, composed of a new building designed by British architect Amanda Levete and a power station, opened in October 2016 with former MoMA curator Pedro Gadanho at its head.

Left: Director of Appleton Square Vera Appleton, writer Bea Espejo, artists Jacobo Castellano and Noé Sendas, with curator Virginia Torrente. Right: Art historian Maria Larsson, artist Angela Bulloch and dealer Cristina Guerra.

Back in Alvalade, people kept pouring in. We followed them to openings at Galeria Quadrado Azul, Galeria Vera Cortês (showing a sleek solo by Daniel Gustav Cramer), and the hybrid space Appleton Square, which recently celebrated its tenth anniversary and was showing a collaboration between Spanish and Portuguese artists Jacobo Castellano and Noé Sendas. Elsewhere in town, Cristina Guerra launched a solo exhibition by Angela Bulloch, and Galeria Madragoa—born last year from an association between Matteo Consonni, formerly of Franco Noero, and Gonçalo Jesus—was opening with a cheeky floor installation by Rodrigo Hernández.

This was the lead-up to the next day’s opening of Madrilenian ARCO Lisboa’s second edition at the Cordoaria, a former shipyard that is now a national monument. The color palette of the lunch tables was worthy of Almodóvar, with fuchsia, patterned orange, and ultramarine tablecloths hosting the customary bacalhau dishes and joyous collectors. (In fact, all the week’s meals included some form of bacalhau and pasteis de nata, and the collectors remained joyous.) Before long, dealers from the fifty-eight participating galleries (up from forty-three last year, as I was informed by Maribel López, one of the ARCO Madrid/Lisboa directors, with Carlos Urroz) joined their booths to prepare for the vernissage’s crowds at 4 PM. The evening brought more conviviality as we departed in buses to Cascais’s fresher seaside to dine at the house of collector Alain Bonte from Bonte Foundation, whose buffet table was accessible through a door between a painting by Miquel Barceló and one by Liu Wei. Sunset on the terrace felt right.

“They cooked us up a shockingly awesome experience so we don’t forget to come back,” said one of the Spanish collectors in my group as we arrived the next day for lunch at Palácio do Correio-Mor de Loures, this after a morning in Marvila at the spaces of Múrias Centeno, Galeria Francisco Fino—with a stellar show curated by João Laia—Galeria Baginski, and Filomena Soares. We were greeted with amuse-bouches, white wine, and Moscatel in the chateau’s sunny yard. Duarte Martins, the son of the current owners, and historian Joel Moedas-Miguel led us through the Baroque-era rooms with their azulejos, fanciful ceilings, and Giovanni Grossi stuccos, as well as the family art collection, from a painting by modernist José de Almada Negreiros to a video in the chapel by João Onofre. By the time we paused for lunch in the gardens, we all felt exquisitely regal.

Left: Curator Bernardo Mosqueira and collector Ademar Britto Jr. Right: Collectors Vitoria and Fabiano Doyle.

That evening I ran into a Brazilian contingent—on a welcome rest from their country’s political turmoil—made up of collectors Ademar Britto and brother and sister Fabiano and Vitoria Doyle, curator Bernardo Mosqueira, artist Marcelo Cidade, and Galeria Vermelho’s Marina Buendia. We sampled more outdoor dining, this time in the urban gardens under palm trees at Chiado8 Espaço Fidelidade Arte Contemporânea—an art space created in 2002 by the insurance company Fidelidade Companhia de Seguros SA—following the opening of a solo show by José Pedro Croft (currently representing Portugal at the Venice Biennale).

This sparkling circuit continued strong each day of the fair. On Friday we visited the home of collectors Armando Cabral and Maria Joao: “We have only one rule: I collect whatever I want but my wife decides what goes on the wall,” Cabral said, pointing out works by Doug Aitken, Lawrence Weiner, Helena Almeida, Cindy Sherman, Tatiana Trouvé, and Francis Alÿs. What’s not to love?

We stopped at Pavilhão 31, the art initiative led by Sandro Resende at Júlio de Matos Psychiatric Hospital, where artist Pedro Cabrita Reis made a show together with artists from their rehabilitation center. (Previous collaborators included Jorge Molder, Souto Moura, and Jeff Koons.) From there we escaped to Culturgest and Fundação Caixa Geral de Depósitos before finally shaking it off at the nightclub Lux Fragil, where Portuguese film director João Botelho totally conquered the dance floor. There is an undeniable economic revival in Portugal, luring new residents each week (prompting fears of social exclusion and gentrification), pushing aside the more visible strains of the crisis and instilling a positive sentiment in Lisbon’s steep cobbled slopes, Baroque architecture, and composed attitude. If anything, adding more spices to this cinematic city just makes it more irresistible.

Left: Advisor and Writer Wayne Northcross and dealer Iliya Fridman. Right: Accion Cultural Española's Marta Rincon, Art Basel's Iciar S-Mangas, and dealer Rebeca Blanchard.

Left: Art Basel's Iciar S-Mangas, artist Carlos Bunga, collectors Paz Quijano, and Jordi Pujol. Right: Dealers Joana Mayer and Francisco Fino.

Left: Dealer Andrea Baginski. Right: Dealer Sveve D’Antonio.

Left: Dealer Caroline Pagès, artist Teresa Henriques, and collector Jean-Marie Gille. Right: Dealers Matteo Consonni and Gonçalo Jesus.

Left: Dealer Fernanda Brenner and artist Paloma Bosquê. Right: Dealer Paola Capata and artist Graham Hudson.

Left: Dealer Iñigo Navarro Valero. Right: Dealer Nuno Centeno.

Left: Dealers Belen Valbuena and Pedro Maisterra. Right: Dealers Mercedes Costa and Pedro Cera.

Left: Directors ARCOMadrid/Lisboa directors Carlos Urroz and Maribel López. Right: Duarte Martins and historian Joel Moedas-Miguel.

Left: Fundação Ricardo do Espírito Santo's Vanessa Fiúza Salgado and artist Jorge Santos. Right: Art Marbella CEO Alejandro Zaia.

Left: MAAT director Pedro Gadanho. Right: Arquipélago director Fátima Marques Pereira.