Neither world recession nor terrorists are going to be allowed to get in the way of the biggest international promotion of Australian art ever mounted. Australia at ARCO '02 is the culmination of years of lobbying on the part of the visionary and hard-working Paul Greenaway, proprietor of Adelaide's Greenaway Gallery. As Commissioner for the event at the ARCO art fair in Madrid, 13 – 19 February 2002, one of the largest and most vibrant in the world, he is working in cooperation with the Australia Council who are providing major support and the Australian Commercial Galleries Association.
Australia having the special status of focus country this year (in 2001 it was the UK) there are no less than 14 Australian commercial galleries participating and in addition we are showcasing our non-profit sector in a booth for the contemporary art spaces, as well as fielding around 15 speakers at the ARCO Forums. In addition to all of this, a series of curated exhibitions in the city of Madrid includes a major photography show curated by Alasdair Foster at the Canal de Isabel II, an historic and extraordinary water tower gallery dedicated to new photography, where the journey up is rewarded by the exciting spaces revealed on its five levels. Here the work of 16 of Australia's wealth of photographers will be exposed to a possibly unprepared world.
At the marvellous Palacio Velázquez in the Parc del Retiro Native Born, an exhibition of contemporary Aboriginal art curated by Djon Mundine will be shown, at the ancient Conde Duque, now a cultural centre, works by three new media artists Peter Callas, Patricia Piccinini and Mari Velonaki will occupy the darkened cavernous spaces with their luminous imagery, while on a huge screen outside the Museo National Centro de Arte Reina Sophia a continuous screening of Australia's best screen-based artists curated by Max Delaney will be seen. Two up and coming SA artists will be accorded solo shows in city galleries: Debra Paauwe at the Pi y Margall Foundation and Darren Siwes at Garage Requiem.
By any reckoning this has to be a great leap forward for the marketing and recognition of Australian art overseas. The rigorous selection process for the 14 commercial galleries who have been assisted has garnered a crop of some of Australia's most intelligent and energetic artists whose presence in Spain will add greatly to the mix.
Artlink has joined the fray and for the first time in our history has dedicated the whole of an issue to just nine artists whom the Artlink team felt represent a range of the most talented and high achieving working today. Five of these are being shown at ARCO. Our subjects are mostly in mid-career and most have already been shown in overseas exhibitions.
This issue will be distributed free of charge, courtesy of the Australia Council, to the large group of ARCO Collectors who are invited to attend the Fair each year from many countries. Come on over to Spain in mid-February and join the fun!