Artists Nicolás Laiz Placeres and Alona Harpaz are on show for the first time in Art Madrid, within the Galería ATC from Tenerife, presenting a collection where the wild is created through a space configured by the incursion of the human being in it.

Harpaz merges, over flat coloured backgrounds, expressionists figures and self-portraits mixed with wildlife and flora made with vibrant colours. Therefore, in her paintings, we can see a mixture between the beautiful and the terrifying. On the other hand, Laiz Paredes sculptures, have Nature and Human Being as elements in a disappearance process, mixed with objects which configure the reason of that destruction itself, creating iconic, almost monochromatic, three-dimensional shapes.

Alona Harpaz

I'm not here for your dream, 2019

Acrilico, spray y colores industriales sobre lienzo

140 x 150cm

Nicolás Laiz

Política Natural III, 2018

Resina, fibra de vidrio, aridos y pintura doble componente

80 x 30cm

Alona Harpaz (Tel Aviv, Israel, 1971) represents in her self-portraits botanic and animal patterns, applying a very personal and imaginative colour scheme, using a strong and vibrant brushstroke over, in many cases, merely decorative surfaces. In her work, colours exist by themselves, freely, but also as abstract well-mimicked elements or recognizable symbols. According to her, “perfectly beautiful paintings can also be dreadful”, and political commitment could be added to beauty and dreadfulness, as the critic Elke Buhruna points out. A sample of this could be seen in her work “Frequency Watchers”, which is a self-portrait of the artist riding a motorcycle, alluding to the 90s feminist movement in the United States, as Riot Grrrl and the Bikini Kill band, who combined feminism and pink lipstick. Therefore, her personality includes the political activism of her father (a Labour Zionist) and the artistic taste of her mother (a dancer).

Alona Harpaz

Frequency Watchers, 2018

Acrilico, spray y colores industriales sobre lienzo

80 x 100cm

Nicolás Laiz Placeres (Lanzarote, 1975), in his three-dimensional pieces, creates a confluence using objects of nature and industrial or genuinely pollutant materials, making a dichotomy between them. From this seemingly simple fusion, the artist is able to send a deeply elaborated message, with a critic tone, to a society that has led to overproduction and extreme and dangerous consumerism and, at the same time, using miscellaneous objects from the Isle’s “topic” iconography: shells, rocks and prickly pears blends with plastic bottles, totems and cranial shapes, creating iconic figures with advertising motifs of the extreme natural disaster situation that the Earth is facing. Finally, in a display of constant irony, his sculptures function as magical shapes that heal our status quo.

In the cage, the Alona Harpaz paintings howl next to the totems and fetish which his space partner Nicolás Laiz Placeres has made, mainly from different identity elements of Canary Islands.

Nicolás Laiz

Política Natural I, 2018

Resina, fibra de vidrio, aridos y pintura doble componente

80 x 30cm

Galería ATC located in the heart of Santa Cruz de Tenerife, participates for the first time in Art Madrid with an unreleased project, dedicated to these two artists which is forming part of the One Project program, coordinated by the art critic and independent curator Fernando Gómez de la Cuesta, under the theme “Salvajes: la cage aux fauves”.

Galería ATC was founded in 2017 by Elle Przybyla (USA) and Juan Matos Capote (Spain) as a part of the Agencia de Tránsitos Culturales - est. in 2014 -, a platform for multidisciplinar artistic investigation and the promotion of contemporary art. The gallery has an annual program featuring various exposicions of spanish and international artists, working with different media: painting, sculpture, video, photography, installations and sound art. In addition to these expositions, the Gallery arranges performances, conferences and other activities. From Canary Islands, Galería ATC grows dynamic relationships between the fringe and the cultural production centres. Their roots in Spain and USA and their imminent connection to Africa, allow them to operate as a cultural intersection space. Their program reflects the commitment to support artists with plenty of voices and in different moments of their careers.

Galería ATC will present, within the One Project project of Art Madrid, unseen art works by the artists Alona Harpaz and Nicolás Laiz Placeres.


Buying the first work of art always instils respect. A difficult feeling to define that mixes vertigo with adrenaline. But over uncertainty and caution, a pleasurable sense of connection, understanding, and desire prevails. That work that, once seen, stays in the mind, reappears in the memory several times a day and seems to tell you that it is willing to be part of your home, is the perfect candidate to make the decision.

In the first steps, many collectors do point out that one does not start from an established plan, but rather that one acquires pieces based on taste and the connection one feels with them until, after time, they realise that the volume of works that accumulates can be labelled as a "collection". For example, this is how Alicia Aza explains it:

“I was not aware that I was collecting until many years later when a third party named me as a collector and talked about my collection. In 2005, I became aware of what collecting means and decided to articulate a collection with an identity of criteria and formats”.

Marcos Martín Blanco, co-founder, with his wife Elena Rueda, of the MER Collection, shares this same opinion:

“Collecting has been a passion, driven by a visceral state that encourages you to do so. The collection, in terms of acquisitions, has not been particularly complicated because, let's face it: it is easy to buy because they are all beautiful things and you have some clear idea of where you want to go, but at first those preferences were not so clear. It is with the time that a criterion is being formed”.

It is not always this way, of course, but for the buyer who starts out on this path, the personal connection that entails the first piece is essential. There it is the germ of a lasting relationship that is not limited to a simple aesthetic question but is an open window to knowledge, to exploration, to a world that is often unknown to us and awakens our fascination. The seed of that connection is purely sentimental, and it is precisely this impulse that determines the first acquisitions. The first piece is never forgotten.

Art Madrid'20, photo by Ana Maqueda

Exceeding the usual recommendations made by advisers and agents, rare is the occasion when the art lover decides to buy by pure investment. These paths usually open later, when the volume of pieces is large enough. In addition, there are those who are a bit against this classic concept of the traditional collector, approached from an eccentric, elitist and little accessible vision. On the contrary, art buyers are, above all, art lovers, sentient beings and permeable to creative stimulus who, at a given moment, decide to deepen the relationship they already have with art to take a piece home.

It is not that hard to overcome that small psychological barrier that turns the visitor into a buyer if one approaches the matter from a more personal and intimate perspective than from social consideration. Small-format works, graphic work or serial photography are of great help for this, whose price range, generally more affordable, allows a closer comparison to the daily basis expenses. In this way, the purchase of art falls within the range of feasible activities and becomes something close and possible.

Art Madrid'20, photo by Marc Cisneros

At that moment, a different relationship with art begins, based on pure experience and coexistence with the acquired piece. Perhaps it can be seen as an act of daring, but on many occasions, it is more a matter of necessity and transformation. Collectors also agree that the acquisition of an artwork is an exercise on personal analysis and opening up to a new field of knowledge that was previously alien to us. Alicia Aza explains that the reason she acquired her first piece of video art, by Sergio Prego, is because she did not understand it and because she saw it as a challenge and an opportunity to self-improve. This open window to knowledge creates new connections and bonds with creators, as one of the most fascinating parts of the process. Candela Álvarez Soldevilla explains that

"I think the most interesting thing in the art world is talking to artists. They are people with a special sensitivity to listen and understand.”

And Alicia Aza also says:

"I can share the satisfaction of being able to count on many artists in my circle of close friends today, and that is a long way to go."

Thus, with works that seem acceptable within the horizon of expenses that each one considers affordable, it is easy to find a piece that catches us. Since then, our home also evolves into a space in which art has a permanent place and presence, and there is no doubt that this transforms us inside.

Art Madrid'20, photo by Henar Herguera

Jaime Sordo, owner of Los Bragales collection and founder of the 9915 Contemporary Art Collectors Association, has always defined his relationship with art as a true passion and a vital necessity. For buyers who start on this path, he has the following recommendation:

“It is an essential condition that they feel the need to live with their passion to enjoy the works. Another very important aspect is that before making decisions for purchases, they are informed, so it is necessary to read specialised newspapers and books, visit exhibitions and museums and a lot of contact with galleries, which is an important and very specific source of information of the artists they represent. Finally, the presence in national and international art fairs. All this generates information and training.”

Indeed, fairs have become a good place for discovery because they condense a wide offer and allow diverse and global contact in a concentrated way. For this reason, many new generation buyers start in the context of an event such as Art Madrid, whose closeness and quality constitute a unique opportunity to meet, soak up and feed the passion for art.

(*) quotes taken from various interviews published in public media between 2013 and 2019.