5 Must-See Artworks at ZonaMaco 2024
More than 140 international exhibitors have converged in Mexico City for the 20th edition of Latin America’s most important fair
The most important contemporary art fair in Latin America, ZonaMaco, has returned to the Centro Citibanamex, Mexico City’s huge convention center, to celebrate its 20th edition from February 7 to 11. On view are 140 exhibitors in the art section—ranging from international galleries such as Pace, Kasmin, Grimm, Sean Kelly, and Galleria Continua to local outfits including MAIA Contemporary, PROYECTOS MONCLOVA, OMR, and Travesía Cuatro. Plus, there are many more exhibitors in the photo, design, books, and antiques parts of the expansive fair.
“There’s a lot of excitement this year,” Direlia Lazo, the new artistic director of the fair, tells Galerie. “The galleries have brought their best artworks. I traveled the world to bring an international mix of exhibitors to the art section of the fair and then balanced them with a strong selection of local and regional galleries. I’m impressed with the subjects that they are presenting, as they go beyond the usual things—ranging from politics to care and generosity—that you see at an art fair, which resonate with the moment we are living right now.”
Viewing hundreds of artworks in a variety of media in the art sector of the fair, Galerie has selected five outstanding works—from paintings and photographs by established artists to engaging canvases by fresh faces on the international art scene—that should be on every major art collector’s acquisition list.
1. Jose Dávila at Sean Kelly
A celebrated Mexican conceptual artist, Jose Dávila employs the mediums of painting, photography and sculpture to make art about art, which most all art basically is—even if it’s not so obvious. Appropriating and recontextualizing iconic artworks he makes us recognize and question some of the tricks of the trade. An image from his “Photographic Memory” series, which was recently exhibited in the artist’s solo show at Sean Kelly in Los Angeles, Untitled (Cowboy) takes Richard Prince’s appropriation of the famous Marlboro ads as the point of departure, but adds another twist by cutting out the cowboys. Inspired by the Mexican folk-art tradition of papel picado or cut-paper, Dávila applies the technique to contemporary art to highlight the importance of negative space, while challenging the viewer to remember the original, which in this case—an appropriation of an appropriation—is, ironically, twice removed.
2. Ali Salazar at NOW: Gallery
A transgender Peruvian artist who started a visual diary with surreal stream-of-consciousness imagery while serving in the military, Ali Salazar turned her visions into her art after a favorite uncle died in an avalanche while climbing. Ascending the Andes mountains herself as a means of therapy to deal with the loss, Salazar became interested in altruism and underwent a spiritual transformation, which she began to further express through her paintings and drawings. Merging the human body with the mountains, she uses acrylic and spray paint in her canvases and dark black ink in her graphic drawings. Seeking individual freedom and connection to a community through sport, spiritualism and art, Salazar shares what she’s gained from nature in a positive, enlightened way.
3. Matta at Pace
Chilean artist Roberto Sebastián Antonio Matta Echaurren, “Matta,” is widely recognized for his painterly contributions to the advancement of modern art. Moving to Paris in 1935 after studying architecture, he worked with Le Corbusier for 12 years before turning to painting. Living to the ripe age of 91, he went through many different stylistic phases of painting, with this large, 1976 canvas on view in the gallery’s booth reflecting his interest in jazz. Presenting a heavenly landscape inhabited by an abstract humanoid musical instrument and drifting notes, sounds and tempos (represented by clocks), Matta makes an improvisational, black-and-white composition, punctuated with color, that’s as explosive as any bebop tune yet as fluid as the sound of swing.
4. Melissa Ríos at JO-HS
Trained as an architect and graphic designer, Costa Rican artist Melissa Ríos began painting as a hobby but soon found herself completely fascinated and totally dedicated to the medium. Creating collages that reflect a feeling more than an idea, she transforms the graphic works into surreal paintings and drawings that marvelously mix abstraction with figuration. Her current series creates a tension between beauty, desire and violence, particularly in relation to the women portrayed in her work. Each painting could represent a gash in the picture plane or an organic opening—allowing the viewer to complete the narrative. Estática y silencio (Static and Silence), for example, captures the partial view of a young woman slumped over a chair after having fallen in tears, been knocked to the ground or is simply resting after exercise. With the scene interrupted by a graphic overlay of foreboding forms and visual energy, we can only imagine the soap-opera, telenovela-type tale that’s transpiring, which adds to the seductive nature of the artist’s work.
5. Walton Ford at Kasmin
A brilliant natural history painter who usually inserts an ironic twist to the subject, American artist Walton Ford mixes hyper-realism and surrealism with a dash of underground comics to create life-size images of birds and animals like no one before him. Exhibiting monumental watercolors internationally since the mid-1990s, the New York-based artist draws on his extensive research into various visual and written sources, including naturalists’ illustrations and dioramas, scientific field studies, explorers’ accounts and zookeepers’ manuals, as well as fables and mythology, historical art and Hollywood movies. His 2017 painting Eureka visualizes the tale of an explorer who discovers a California grizzly bear’s skeleton perfectly intact, with a natural ecosystem living inside the carcass. Eureka is the California state motto and the grizzly bear is the mascot that appears on the state flag.
If you can’t see his painting at the fair, there will be more opportunities in April, when Ford will have a survey of his studies and sketches at New York’s Morgan Library & Museum and present new work at the Ateneo Veneto di Scienze, Lettere ed Arti in Venice, during the Biennale Arte 2024.