CIRCA ’10: Art in Puerto Rico

Art fairs, for the most part, took a holiday break after Art Basel Miami Beach, but now they’re back in full force. Three international fairs kick off the new year this weekend: Art First Bologna 2010 in Italy, CIRCA Puerto Rico ’10 in San Juan, and Art Los Angeles Contemporary. Art First, which is back for its 34th edition, boasts 270 exhibitors, and the new Art LA Contemporary has a strong line-up with 56 galleries; but we’re putting our chips on CIRCA ’10 — and not just because gambling is legal in Puerto Rico.

Back for its fifth installment, CIRCA ‘10 presents an eclectic mix of contemporary art from Europe, the US, Latin America, South America, the Caribbean, and Asia. The main fair hosts 25 exhibitors, including three Chinese galleries that are part of a bilateral exchange with Art Beijing, while CIRCA Labs offers a half-dozen cutting-edge galleries displaying their artists’ work in and around shipping containers. Meanwhile, solo projects by six Latin artists interact with the rest of the show.

Julia Fullerton-Batten, Dressing Gown, series In Between, 2008, Type-C print, 40x54 inches. 102x137 cm. Edition: 1/7. Courtesy Camara Oscura, Madrid

There are several standout booths in the main fair. Munich’s Galerie Von Braunbehrens brings Andy Denzler’s motion paintings, fresh from his recent solo show, and Kim Dong-Yoo’s pixilated portraits of pop icons, including Marilyn and JFK. Madrid’s Cámara Oscura presents staged photographic works by Julia Fullerton-Batten and Cecilia de Val. New York’s Magnan Metz Gallery showcases Sofia Maldonado’s graffiti-style paintings of street scenes in Havana and Ernesto Pujol’s ink drawings that alter his grandmother’s Cuban dictionary.

Additionally, Miami’s Charest-Weinberg Gallery displays a solo show of Pedro Barbieto’s new oval-shaped paintings that dynamically mix figurative and abstract subject matter. Dusseldorf’s Schuebbe Projects presents a group show, including the talented representational painters Tianhong Sheng and Christian Schoeler, who is the latest artist to collaborate with Louis Vuitton. And San Juan’s own Walter Otero highlights new abstract works by the buzz-worthy emerging painter Angel Otero.

As for CIRCA Labs, London-based curator Pablo Leon de la Barra’s playful plan for the containers combines a village fair, market, and open museum. Creating a dialogue between the most interesting, young avant-garde galleries of the Americas with the Puerto Rico art scene, the Labs space includes hammocks for thoughtful lounging, a bulletin board for cultural proposals, a reading area, a hanging painting exhibition, and an outdoor cinema.

Intimate and intellectually challenging, CIRCA Puerto Rico ’10 offers visitors the chance to see art from distant cultural capitals, while also enjoying some fun in the sun.

CIRCA Puerto Rico ’10 is on view from January 29 to February 1 at the Puerto Rico Convention Center in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Tianhong Sheng, Untitled, 2009, Acrylic on Canvas, 213 x 152 cm. Courtesy Schuebbe Projects, Dusseldorf
José León Cerrillo, Busy Place, 2009, Enamel paint on metal, Dimensions variable. Courtesy Proyectos Monclova, Mexico City
Sofia Maldonado, Paseo del Prado 1, 2009, Acrylic on canvas, 60 x 72 in. Courtesy Magnan Metz Gallery, New York
Pedro Barbeito, Siren3, 2008, Acrylic on canvas over panel, 72 x 48 in. Courtesy Charest-Weinberg Gallery, Miami
Angel Otero, The Golden Vase, 2009, Oil, oil skins, silicone, spray paint on canvas, 84 x 72 in. Courtesy Walter Otero, San Juan
Kim Dong-Yoo, Kennedy and Marilyn, 2009, Oil on canvas, each 113 x 91 cm. Courtesy Galerie von Braunbehren, Munich