INTERVIEW WITH ALBERTO CORNEJO, DIRECTOR OF ART MADRID'18

Art Fairs are much more than a space for economic exchange, they are a space for symbolic exchange, for intangible goods. Alberto Cornejo, Director of Art Madrid'18

Alberto Cornejo

He has directed Art Madrid for 4 years, with a family of gallerists, Alberto Cornejo has surrounded himself with a young team that has managed to give the fair a new, fresher style, connected with the "new contemporary art" and new technologies. His objective is to be the fair of the future, realistic, connected, at the service of galleries and creators.

Since the change of location of the fair and the new team, how do you assess the evolution of the fair?

Very positively, it can not be otherwise. The new team has made possible to consolidate a fair with a long history, thanks to a new fresher style and more up to date with the movements of the sector, a team that is closer to the new profile of creator and collector that has been developed in our country in the last years. The venue, undoubtedly, has been an essential element so that the fair, in turn, fits into the agenda of more audiences, of different profiles, a wide audience that includes experts, professionals and collectors but also the general public that given the proximity and comfort of the space do not hesitate to make Art Madrid one of his visits in the Week of Art.

We like to know that many people have developed their taste in the art world thanks to us, by making ourselves more accessible and more open. We want to think that, in addition to keeping our audience more loyal, we are sensitizing a new type of public and that we are the reference for a new generation of collectors. The collector is younger now, has a more personal interest in more personal art, their appetites are more intimate, they buy for pleasure, for "falling in love" and not so much for investment. Art is part of their lives as a book or an object with which you identify. This public finds in Art Madrid a space with interesting pieces and at reasonable prices in which to start their collection.

There is more and more international presence in AM, what is it? Is it a bet of the fair itself?

Art Madrid has specialized in promoting and disseminating contemporary Spanish art, eminently but the truth is that international galleries are increasingly interested in the fair. This year, for example Art Madrid has galleries from Germany, France, Cuba, Brazil, Taiwan, Portugal, Ukraine and China. Portugal is the foreign country with more representation this year in the General Art Madrid Program, with artists such as João Noutel, João Santos, Ana Pais Oliveira, Rui Dias Monteiro, Isabel Sabino and Moisés Duarte. The Ukrainian artist Andrey Zadorine will surprise us too with a monographic painting stand... It is the experience of every of them what makes possible that galleries around the world trust in the fair.

What would you highlight in this year's edition? Artists, actions, galleries...

This year we have bet, without a doubt, for the new talents, to know the work of a new generation of artists. Spain has a great talent and has much to offer but, due to the specific collector tradition and the economic circumstances of the country, many artists have found themselves in need of building their career abroad. In this sense, both the galleries and the fairs have had to take a step forward and be increasingly spokespersons for these emerging artists who need an infrastructure and a wider dissemination platform and, in this sense, Art Madrid is a launching fair for young talents particularly those based in our country. We have examples of artists that we consider "part of the fair" because we have seen them form and grow, as the photographer Irene Cruz for example. The One Project program, curated by Carlos Delgado Mayordomo, works to this objective, that of serving as a showcase for talent, of creating an invoice for names that will be discussed in the future. In this 2018 edition there is an outstanding presence of young artists with a very mature and solvent work. Without a doubt, we are facing a new generation of highly committed creators with an intense and interesting work to which we want to give voice.

Why OKUDA as a Guest Artist? It is an important generational and stylistic leap...

Betting for Okuda San Miguel has been a commitment to the so-called "new contemporary art", which includes all forms of urban art, pop surrealism ... Okuda is one of the young artists with more international repercussions, he has managed to be the total artist, the global artist, the mixture of cultures beyond the market, mixing the influences that exist between the art of all the countries, Okuda condenses the image of the current urban art. His work is colorful and risky and we wanted to join this wave, his strength ... This year, in addition, there is an outstanding presence of urban art and pop-art at the fair. Okuda San Miguel is preparing an exclusive work for the fair, a limited edition that will be available for Art Madrid attendees.

In recent years, a thematic alternative program of activities has been consolidated, as well as the One Project program mentioned above... What added value bring these parallel programs to Art Madrid?

These programs allow us to deepen the art from various perspectives and this makes us more attractive for more audiences. As One Project allows us to make known emerging names, more risky, more personal projects and brings us closer to a more reflective type of public and more committed to the most personal art; The Parallel Program allows us to talk about transversal aspects to art, the relationship of art with other aspects of life, its connection with other social realities such as gender issues, technology ... or, this year, education. Fairs are much more than a space for economic exchange, they are a space for symbolic exchange, for intangible goods.

What are the challenges that AM faces in this edition and facing the future? What does AM want?

Art Madrid has always tried to be a pioneer in the art market and has wanted to respond to the demand of the sector with a strong commitment to the digital presence. In this edition, it goes much further, since we have launched an online sales platform to support the participating galleries before, during and after the fair. This initiative will help to give great visibility to galleries and artists, eliminating borders and expanding horizons.

Our goal has always been to encourage interest in contemporary art, so now the relationship with our public will be permanent throughout the year, through its own content, curated exhibitions and various events. The health of our art market, which is very powerful, depends to a great extent on generating synergies that move in the same direction. We have no doubt that this is just the beginning of numerous projects that Art Madrid will be able to host based on its presence and digital reputation.

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.