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ARCO Madrid brings together 185 galleries for Spain's largest art fair

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ARCO Madrid is back and ready to dazzle art collectors and enthusiasts
ARCO Madrid is back and ready to dazzle art collectors and enthusiasts   -   Copyright  AP Photo
By Theo Farrant  & AP

Art collectors are returning to Madrid for the ARCO art fair which opens on 23 February at the IFEMA centre.

The annual event was delayed last year due to the pandemic and took place in July rather than February, but now the exhibition has returned to its early spring slot.

There are a total of 185 galleries from 30 countries; 159 galleries included in the 'General Programme', in addition to 42 more in the curated programmes, exhibiting painting, sculpture, installations, photography, video, new media, drawing and prints.

The participating galleries have increased by 40% compared to last year, when travel was more restricted and stricter coronavirus measures in place.

Spain's largest and most important art fair

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Visitors look at mannequins wearing creations from "Alianco" ahead of annual the ARCOAP Photo

The fair began in 1982 and is celebrating its 40th anniversary year.

"This 40+1 Anniversary, this edition of Arco is a very important edition. Every year is (important) but thinking of all that happened in these two years, the fact that we couldn´t be together, so many of us, that we really love to talk about art, to see art. So this edition is going to be very special because all the galleries are here," says Maribel López, Director of ARCO Madrid. 

Spanish gallerist Guillermo de Osma has taken part in every event since 1993.

He says "I think, on the Spanish scene, Arco has been fundamental in creating, firstly, a hobby, secondly, bringing the public closer to modern and contemporary art, and third, in supporting art collecting and creating it as well. Because I always say that in Spain there is less art collecting than there should be."

López, says in-person encounters and real presence are very important: "people come to Arco to discover, to investigate, to learn, and I think that's very special of the fair".

Showcasing a diverse range of art

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A woman stands next to a creation by Spanish artist Ramon Bilbao depicting Spain's former dictator Francisco FrancoAP Photo

Aside from ARCO Madrid's main 'General Programme', the fair also features many other smaller, individual sections, which aim to highlight a specific art subculture. 

For example, one section titled, 'Never the Same', features a selection of Latin American artists from 10 international galleries, curated by Mariano Mayer and Manuela Moscoso. 

And continuing the initiative started in last year's fair, the 'Artist Projects' section will be dedicated exclusively to women.

It aims to help strengthen the fair’s Latin American positioning through galleries from different countries.

ARCO Madrid is taking place from 23 to 27 February at the largest exhibition complex in Spain, IFEMA.

Check out the video above for a look inside ARCO Madrid 2022

Video editor • Theo Farrant