GETTING CLOSE TO EXPERIMENTAL ART

Art is an expressive language that does not conform to the pre-established guidelines and dares to explore new creative options. Indeed, we are before something intrinsic and consubstantial to art, because one of its purposes is to question the raison d'être of our reality, to go a step beyond the established orthodoxy, to break with classicism and pose a challenge both for artists and for the spectators. And in this creative magma, the incursion of new techniques and the combination of disciplines is the ideal breeding ground to originate new movements and trends.

Yoshi Sodeoka, “Utopia”

Experimental art wasn’t labelled until the last third of 20th century. Until then, the emergence of artistic movements gave way to more and more abstract manifestations, farther from the classical aesthetic, which had experienced small episodes of evolution on the emergence of new techniques, but with a production based on the demands of the sponsor of turn. It was the domination of religious motifs, the reconstructions of mythological stories, the tyranny of royal and nobiliary portraits, the expansion of pompous landscapes. However, the last century was the cradle of the concept of the modern artist, an autonomous, independent, irreverent and difficult to master author that also wanted to take refuge in a new language to live outside the canons.

Nacho Criado

As usual, in the beginning, new expressive proposals that move away from academicism usually receive a harsh criticism from the most conservative and consolidated group of the fine arts. Let us not forget that this had happened to the Impressionists, openly rejected by the most traditionalist authors, who saw in their style a kind of subversion (and even perversion) of painting. Today, however, this movement of the late 19th century has established itself as an inescapable reference in the history of art.

Cristopher Cichocki, “Fish With Enamel Illuminated by Ultra Violet Radiation”

Likewise, every experimental form tends to deal with less friendly and riskier themes that give way to the significant concerns of the moment. For this reason, these forms of expression are often associated with open criticism of the established system and the status quo of power. Nothing better than muddying the harshness of a social rethinking with a blow of novelty, such as the one proposed by experimental art. A break in the rules that requires a double reading to get to the bottom of the matter. Because, in this current, things are seldom what they seem.

Jim Drain

Thus, experimental art feeds on contemporary resources and builds its message on the value of discourse itself: what is said is more important than how it is said. The image, the "extra-artistic" elements, the influence of other professions and the media impact play a fundamental role in this stream that is still difficult to define and specify. The development of the artistic tissue in each moment and place determines the expansion and reception of these models. The old and veteran Europe, so attached to its history and cultural heritage, has always lagged behind other pioneering foci, such as those from beyond the Atlantic. Perhaps the absence of a thousand-year historical weight and the unconsciousness of living a reality with a barely bicentennial past serve as an impulse to set trends and become the field of experimentation par excellence. Let's lose the fear of being wrong and try.

 

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.