el grito de los pixadores

January 20th, 2015 § 0 comments § permalink

El Grito dos Pixadores (published in Spanish 19/01/2015)

Art Democracy #4

The new movie Pixadores offers an insider perspective on the group that caused polemic in three biennials. Revealing more about this little understood avant-garde movement, the new movie shows the convergence of their art with politics, social issues and how their participation in the 28th and 29th biennales of São Paulo, and the 7th biennale of Berlin caused so much controversy.

By João Correia

Pixação, as per the article “O pixo nosso de cada dia” (Our pixo of everyday), written by one of the most outspoken Pixadores in Brazil, Cripta Djan, is not “just an stylized typography utilized in the city’s public spaces but the expression of a highly organized and conceptually consistent social and artistic movement”.

Predominantly led by youngsters from the outskirts of the big cities such as São Paulo and Rio, pixo is, in their own words “the voice of the voiceless, the scream of the invisible, the practice of a freedom of expression repressed by the false democracy we live in.”

They claim that processes of discrimination – among which the construction of walls is the most emblematic – combined with the fear in the big urban centers are a significant factor for increasing segregation.

High walls represent a failed system, a division, a restriction of access, a permanent cut off of possibilities of exchange. This is a physical, a concrete aggression to their rights; it is a gesture of social vandalism inflicted on them by society.

Pixação, as they see it, is an aesthetic response to the social and physical aggression they endure. What is vandalism for some, for them is re-appropriation. Each signed wall is the conquest of a city that was denied to them, it is an indicator of their class social dissatisfaction.

The Pixador is the urban artist who transcended the canvas and sees the city as the support of his discourse. If their work pleases or not, it is a different matter as they are indeed intended to cause reflection as this is the only path to change.

The urban space strengthens inequalities and social gaps, feature public spaces that may be everything except democratic and sensitive to contemporary thoughts of equality, sustainability and inclusion. “We must transgress to progress”, says the article.

These and other thoughts about the movement are stated in Cripta Djan’s Facebook page which is followed by 15,000 people and archive many of his interviews and articles to the Brazilian and international press such as New York Times, Financial Times and CNN.

In December 6th the dissemination of their message that besides the press already counts with the documentary “Pixo”, went a step further: “Pixadores” Film, a new movie by Amir Arsames Escandari, was screened for the first time in São Paulo featuring the story of a group of four young men Djan, Willian, Biscoito and Ricardo (the “pixadores”).

The movie reveals the insider’s perspective and thought provoking nuances of an activity that brings a singular combination of attitude and aesthetics longed for in the contemporary art scene. It also helps making the voice of an entire social class heard and promoting a better understanding among the different segments of our society.

Being contemporary is being also globally aware of the issues present in the world today, and working towards the removal of the friction between the different ideologies around us. Pixadores take risks and do their share, inviting us to dialogue.

It is down to us to reach our attention to the signs they are giving and do what we can towards truly universal standards to all. Great art is always uncomfortable at first.

João Correia is a São Paulo based art advisor.

Email: hello@ijoao.com
Website: www.ijoao.com
Twitter: @ijoaoc
Instagram: @ijoaoc



August 28th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink


Art and investment with Latin American colour
British Abstract Expressionism experience


August 28th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink


Art Media Agency


Art Media Agency
The little secrets that make SP special

Interview to Art Media Agency

April 14th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

“The little secrets that make SP special”: interview with João Correia
São Paulo, 10 April 2014, Art Media Agency (AMA).

With over a decade of experience in the art markets of both London and Brazil, João Correia is one of the founding partners of Art Options SA, a São Paulo-based consultancy for collectors of Brazilian and international art. He spoke to Art Media Agency about the specificities of the Brazilian market, and his desire to build an international standard for Contemporary art.

You lived and worked in London for 12 years – what did you do in the city, and why did you decide to return to Brazil?
I see myself as an entrepreneur in the arts; always on the lookout for opportunities to innovate and take my professional development forward. When I first arrived in London, I wanted to figure out what aspects were lacking from the artistic scene which could profit from my experience. The answer at the time was a gallery of Latin American Art: I created one in Regent Street in 2003, with the support of Carlos Cruz-Diez. The instant media coverage and popularity of our programme showed that it was indeed the right idea at the time. The work I carried out there, running art debates and dealing on the secondary market of modern masters, was also a fantastic experience. My return to Brazil was for family reasons.

Is the gallery still in existence?
No, it was open throughout 2003 and 2004. Following this, my partner decided to sell the building. We did have the option to move to another building, but I started to reflect, and felt that I wanted to do something more contemporary. The original gallery focused on Modern art and I felt it would be intellectually more engaging to participate in art which represented my own era. If we insist on looking back at history, we won’t move forward, right?

Why did you decide to return to Brazil?
I came to Brazil to visit my family after my grandfather passed away. He was a painter and we had a beautiful sense of a shared mission in the SP art scene. I felt compelled to return to the country at this point. Whilst in the country I had the opportunity to talk to people, his collectors and others, and it came to my attention that there was an opportunity to set up an art advisory company prepared to offer advice with both art and finance, in addition to a bespoke educational programme for new collectors.

And was this because you were speaking to collectors in the area who needed advice on what or how to purchase?
Yes. The activities in the primary market seemed in the main to be shy of being truly global. On the secondary market dealings seemed too informal. Collectors were keen to learn how to do it differently and wanted guidance in how to be as diligent as possible, how to get involved in creative forms and how to begin to fund innovative projects. My ambition was to create a company that served as a reference of international standards but operated from a local foundation. We are in the process of building that company.

How has Brazil – and particularly its art market – changed during your time there?
Brazil now has a place in the global art scene. It became a fashionable destination to talent hunt. Our market (estimated to be worth $590 million) is still very small in comparison to what it could be, but is already big enough to sustain many fantastic galleries. We now have a dynamic art fair scene, and I particularly like to follow what artist collectives are doing. All this is either new or significantly stronger from what it was in 1998 when I moved to Paris.

Where does the Brazilian market fail?
I think one area in which it fails is diversity. Whether for historical or tax reasons Brazilians did not have many opportunities to encounter art. I believe art collections will always be a reflection of local production on a wider scale, but I think there is always room for diversification. I even posted on my blog when I came back from the Venice Biennale on what our own private collections would look like if we applied the same principles to them as we do to those represented at the Venice Biennale. Secondly, I think we have artists that deserve international recognition, that have a discourse with a potential to stand out globally, but are still very much unknown. Mira Schendel is to be exhibited at the Tate and Lygia Clark at MoMA, but we need more international exposure. It will happen.

And where is the Brazilian market at its strongest? Where does it excel, and is there anything about Brazil which is particularly propitious to being a gallerist or an artist?
I think Brazil will become one of those countries that exports artistic talent to the world and this will have a positive effect for gallerists and artists. Also, because our historical foundation in the arts is different, perhaps not as set-in-stone as in other countries, collectors and buyers have fewer pre-formed habits or expectations. This lack of preconceived ideas often works in a collector’s favour, as it promotes risk taking which can often be profitable. Our day-to-day dealings with clients continually opens up paths which we did not expect: for these reasons I am very happy to be in SP.

So that must facilitate your job as an art advisor?
Yes, it does in a way, but we have different challenges as well. SP is ranked the 10th richest city in the world and with so much wealth, combined with our educational programme, we’ve been able to establish a particularly innovative approach to art collecting right from the start of Art Options. This already represents a great achievement. The art advisor has the privileged position of offering a bird’s eye view of the scene which can be very empowering especially on a calendar of almost 200 fairs annually. New collectors need guidance. Expensive mistakes are being avoided. We have a role to play here for sure.

Do you actively seek to promote Brazilian artists?
Art Options stands out because we only work for buyers. This status prevents conflicts of interest. We don’t promote artists as galleries do; if we do it is only within the context of the collections we’re building, but that should always be backed by research. We believe that quality in art can be explained.

Do you find, then, that collectors themselves are interested in buying Brazilian art?
Absolutely. We still work predominantly with Brazilian art, but our team is international and prepared to handle international art when requested. SP Arte last week had over 50 galleries from abroad – that’s a number which is definitely on the increase. I am committed to caring for the culture which is the heart of our identity, but I am also dedicated to diversity and the promotion of artistic discourses.

What are the difficulties of running an arts-focused business in Brazil? Is tax, for example, something which makes your job particularly challenging?
Taxes and bureaucracy: Brazil is known for being particularly challenging in both aspects. The tax exemptions secured for the art fairs gives us hope that it will change for the better one day. I also want to see an increase in active criticism of critics themselves. This is an important role and something which I don’t see enough of. If a curator or art critic does a poor job, visitors to an exhibition have no way to know that it shouldn’t be that way. They often think they are ignorant when in fact the information provided is overly complicated: it is counter productive. We try to help and would like others to do the same. The scene will only improve for everybody’s gain.

You studied at Sotheby’s Institute of Art in London. Why did you elect to study in the UK?
It was always my intention to try and divide my time between São Paulo and London. Maybe because my dad was a fan of English rock and roll… In fact both countries have a trading tradition with auction houses like Christie’s and Sotheby’s and the art market has always been my focus. I thought it made sense to go there and I liked Godfrey Barker who was my teacher. It was nicely ironic that, ten years later, I returned to Sotheby’s Institute as a speaker for a conference on the subject of Trust and Transparency in the Art Market (May/2013).

Is there anything particularly innovative, or interesting, about the Brazilian market?
We have a place called Casa Tomada which has a great programme teaching artists how to be better public intellectuals. They get together in groups and learn how conduct a successful public discourse. There is another venue, in Vila Madalena which runs charity auctions that sell works without labels. Works by well known artists can be bought for bargain prices. This auction is run by a drag queen and it is hilarious, priceless. I want to encourage people to discover all these little secrets that make SP so special.

A Trans – Atlantic Interview

August 19th, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

Paula Silva interviews former boss Joao Correia

London / Bogota, November 20th 2010

Joao talks about his activities in the last decade: his arrival in London, his frustration with the lack of Latin American art in the capital, his response with the set up of Tambo Gallery in 2003, the preparations to re-launch his gallery in 2012 and all what happened in between.

1. When you set up Tambo, back in 2003, what motivated you to move your ambitions to a gallery physical space rather than to work as a marchand?

I’ve always looked up to art brokerage practices. Low overheads, low staff, efficient IT, minimum stock, high-level networking. Simple formula. However, when you decide to break through and pioneer a market for a little known type of art, the stock, the promotion, the education, the events and most importantly a window to the world becomes critical. Realization that I wanted a gallery came with that insight.

2. Why choose the most expensive street in London (Regent Street)?

It allowed me to maximise the gallery benefits described above.

3. How did you manage to represent Carlos Cruz – Diez and Jesús Soto? You were 26 and they were both well in their 80s!

I had a successful working relationship with Colombian figurative artist Ramiro Arango. Ramiro knew Cruz-Diez and I wanted a big name to launch the gallery with, to overtly get a lift on his reputation. I called Carlos up and shared my vision with him. He bought into it, and introduced me to Soto and to many other great artists. Banking on the good work with them I could leverage access to the masters on the younger generation and “the rest is history”.

4. What informed the selection of artists you chose to work with in Tambo?

No particular program was followed. Tambo, believe it or not, was a bit of a testing bed. I had no idea of what would work in London and what wouldn’t so just followed my intuition as well as the convenience in terms of geographical proximity with the artists studios and good personal rapport with them.

5. Who were your groupies, your supporters or investors for that Project?

I had a few smart business people who got on my side appreciating that our project had a strong USP (unique selling point) that increased its chances of being a success. I had also some scholars, and sponsors that came basically from cold calling and ended up becoming good friends. There were also the usual enthusiasts of Latin American Culture and my English girlfriend at the time Ally, who was as supportive as a great woman can be. In my first exhibition promotion was poor and she was the only one to turn up.

6. After closing Tambo, what did you spend the last 5 years of your life doing?

Upon closing Tambo I was aware that the success we had was mainly owed to my raw hungry immigrant type of enthusiasm. I did lack basic business skills and was very conscious of that. Having managed a family business in Brazil had nothing to do with pioneering a new enterprise in a centre like London. In the last 5 years I’ve been acquiring these basic business skills that will hopefully allow me to come back and be a real player.

7. How was that different or similar to what you did when you had Tambo?

It was completely different. I believe in learning by doing, and also was keen to get involved in experiences outside the art world. I did a course in the history of the art market at Sothebys with the great Godfrey Barker, but also ventured into marketing, online marketing, sales, and even decided to embrace a real estate project I bumped into. Now I am starting to miss the arts but am grateful for this season of experiences out of it. I have also been soul searching and lost for a while.

8. What propelled you to want to re-open a space?

Rarely I say that openly, but a strong reason why I was out of the arts is for not knowing what to do next. Tambo was right at the time, but I don’t think it would have been needed now. London has 100s of galleries there is no point creating another one for the sake of it. So I have been asking myself, what does London need that I am eventually well equipped to provide? I think I have been finding the answer and for the same reasons mentioned above, my new project needs a window.

9. How has your thinking, liking and understanding of art changed since Tambo?

My art thoughts until that time were mainly a consequence of the environment I had been born in. Figurative art, partly influenced by the School of Paris, part by the Semana de Arte Moderna of 1922 (Sao Paulo). I had not had the time to let my European experiences sink in and my friendships in the art world were too new. I have since been strongly influenced by my great friend Jesse Jacobson who I see as one of the world’s experts in Abstract Expressionism. I have also been put in a new track of research and interest in a very different vein: street art, by my friend Eduardo Seretta, one of the owners of Choque Cultural Gallery in Sao Paulo. Not to mention other individuals and events that had an impact on me in terms of my appreciation for contemporary performance and its artistic genealogy.

10. What motivated that change in your vision?

The desire to expand my horizons and participate in the contemporary dialogue, now that I had had my Tambo experience with established artists and was confident of my ability to make things happen in London. Also, desire to switch my art thinking back on, after a handful of years watching it as a pure spectator.

11. How is working with these graffiti, street and performance artists different from working with people of the stature of Cruz – Diez
or Soto?

They bring a different type of beauty to the world: raw creative energy, often anti establishment, uninterested in the champagne life style typical of the art world. Their names won’t build an audience but their behaviours and ideas will. Their appeal to the press doesn’t come from their place in history, but from the polemic their work generates. I could go on and on. Very different worlds, I enjoy to play in both.

12. In terms of building a market and selling their work?

Thinking about a market for graffiti art is almost a contradiction. Graffiti artists develop their practice in the public space without necessarily thinking about exhibiting in a gallery or museum, they use pseudonyms as opposed to their real names – which all other artists will always use as an advantage in the market – and a great majority of them actually challenge the market itself. However, there has been an increasing interest in street art since Basquiat teamed up with Leo Castelli, which we can see now in Banksy as the cornerstone of that new interest. So, there are essential and fundamental differences between working with an artist whose intention is to exhibit and sell with a gallery than working with an artist who develops their work thinking about displaying a politically engaged message in public space.

13. In terms of media attention?

I think there is something very newsworthy about the fact that graffiti and street art have gained recognition. Graffiti has been around since the Romans and it gained major political relevance during the events of May 1968 in Paris. It was then that it became an important component of artistic practice; but it wasn’t until Basquiat and Keith Harring became Warhol’s protégés that it became part of the art market. What is interesting now is that contemporary graffiti artists are closer to May 68 in their political thinking but they have developed a very strong visual language to reinforce the political message. So, in a way, what we are seeing now is the brotherhood between punk politics and what worked very brilliantly for Basquiat and Harring in the art market: it’s about visually stunning political statements.

14. How do you analyse the potential of graffiti and street art within the relevant currents of contemporary art?

There has recently been a lot of critique of relational aesthetics, but graffiti art has repeatedly had a presence in relational exhibitions and events. If you think of the genealogy of both, Situationist International is at the roots of both relational aesthetics and graffiti art. But the association isn’t gratuitous; and the major element that links these two currents together is the demand for viewer response. The other important aspect of graffiti art has to do with its site specificity. Ever since high art left the gallery space in the 70s with land art and then with site-specific practice, the blurring between open and closed space and between private and public space has been a major point of discussion for theorists. There is a very crucial site specificity for graffiti art; one that can be seen in the difference between the artistic practice of a city like London and the one coming from cities like Sao Paulo, Barcelona or Los Angeles. They all refer to very different political engagements.

15. How would you build a market for that kind of artwork?

The first market for this kind of artistic practice, ironically, lies outside the art market. It resides more in non – commercial institutions, the ones that can actually put an artist in the map. Because this kind of art is produced outside commercial interests, the movement from the street to the art gallery has traditionally been mediated by non – commercial spaces. But mostly, this mediation has been put forward by very contemporary, analytic and critical spaces that take risks with the shows they put together. This doesn’t imply that there can’t be a commercial market for this kind of artwork. Of course there is! But it’s important that people live the experience of this kind of art before they actually decide to purchase. This is an artistic practice that calls its viewers very strongly to engagement, so it will be people who feel this experience to their cores the ones who will be able to live with the pieces every day.

Paula Silva is a freelance art writer and curator. She manages the Arts Programme for the British Council in Colombia, and their Creative Economy Programme for Latin America and the Caribbean. She is a speaker to audiences of young creative entrepreneurs on how to potentialize the Latin American creative industries.
Paula has a literature and art history degree (honours) from Universidad de Los Andes, an MA in Visual Culture from Goldsmiths University. She was also associate professor of contemporary art theory at Universidad de Bogota Jorge Tadeo Lozano and was then the dean (A) of its fine arts department. She’s been twice the finalist of the National Art Criticism award.

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