Madrid, Spain—With the behemoth ARCO Madrid taking place the same week, across town over at Art Madrid 2019, a number of other galleries, mostly from Spain, offer nuanced and more regional perspectives on contemporary art from the region.

Art Madrid, now in its 14th edition, is being held in the beautiful Crystal Gallery of Centro Cibeles, only a stone’s throw away from the Prado Museum and the Botanical Gardens, located in one of Madrid’s most iconic, central and regal areas.

Photo by Veronica de Vicente
Photo by Veronica de Vicente

Though the fair is markedly less international than the larger ARCO across town, of the 50 galleries showing at Art Madrid, only about 15 are from abroad, thus the focus here being on local, regional, and Spanish art, though there are international exceptions.

Additionally, Art Madrid has added a selection of curated parallel programs and events this year, which seems to be part of a wider trend in the art fair world writ larger. Case in point being a program organised this year by Nerea Ubieto, who selected an additional 7 projects by female artists, known as the One Project Program. Its a trailblazing project that certainly adds emphasis where it is needed: on underrepresented voices from Ibero-American galleries and artists.

In terms of exhibitors, over at Aurora Vigil-Escalera’s booth, two large-scale works on linen definitely hit a chord. Full of experimentation, scent and texture, two works in particular by Ismael Lagares still smelt of fresh paint, teething with layers of colourful pigment stacked on top of each other, forming, as it were, small mountains of paint. Much to my surprise, I found out that this actually takes years to fully dry, reminding me that painting remains full of experimental, bold, new directions, and not just at the bigger art fairs and galleries.

Detail of Red XXX by Ismael Lagares at Aurora Vigil-Escalera Galeria de Arte
Detail of Red XXX by Ismael Lagares at Aurora Vigil-Escalera Galeria de Arte

Emphasising this point even more, several other booths at Art Madrid reminded me that, far from being over, painting is witnessing somewhat of a renaissance today. Paulo Nunes Arte Contemporânea has an interesting display of architectural paintings, whilst the booth by Moret Art presents a nice assortment of humour ridden digital paintings, one of which is a satirical portrait of a 19th century English physician, Richard Mead, plastered with a Maori face tattoo.

Above all, Art Madrid punches well above its weight in the fair category, notable, but not in a competitive sense, with the much larger and more expensive ARCO, a reminder that art has plenty of avenues in a city that has plenty more to offer.

Art Madrid 2019 continues from February 27 – March 3 at Galería de Cristal de CentroCentro Cibeles.1 Montalbán St., near Plaza de Cibeles 1, | Downtown Madrid | For more information: