The 37th edition of ARCOmadrid started off with the controversy about the installation Presos políticos españoles contemporáneos (contemporary Spanish political prisoners), with which Santiago Sierra reported the existence of political prisoners in Spain through a series of photos with pixelated faces. Reported, because the same day of the opening the installation was removed.



arco 2018

All controversies aside, there are many reasons to visit the Iferma pavilions where, between the 21st and the 25th of February, 208 galleries of 29 countries show a selection of their backgrounds. In a year marked by the feminist vindications, ARCO aims at the empowerment of women with a very feminine edition, since all the persons in charge of the commission programs are women. The ARCO intention, to quote its director, Carlos Urroz, is “to provide visibility to the excellent professionals – managers as well as gallerists and artists – that are in the art world”.

With the same intention of giving visibility to women of the art world, the visual artist Yolanda Dominguez developed and organized the action #estamosaquí.  60 women of different artistic fields spread out all over the facility identified with a red geolocation point on their head, similar to the Google Maps One. “Women represent 60% of Arts and Humanities students, however only 13.7% of works exposed in galleries have a woman’s signature”, points out Dominguez, who encourages through this action to start changing things.

Some of the participant artists in #estamosaqui. Photo: @yodominguez

Born with the vocation of showing contemporary art made both inside and outside Spain and with no place in museums, ARCO became a crucial appointment in Spanish artistic life. Don’t get impressed by big national and international collectors and get closer to meet the most ground-breaking proposals in the artistic field.


Invited county?  Future!

This ARCO edition replaces its traditional invited country with a theme: future. Under the slogan “Future is not what is going to happen but what we are going to do”, the women Commissioners Chus Martínez, Elise Lammer and Rosa Lleó intend to turn ARCO 2018 into a “space that allow us to imagine, produce and propose a vision of the complexity waiting for us. The workshop “Future: beyond the crystal ball” is organized together with a selection of galleries and artists whose work focuses around this topic. A theoretical day of conversations and conferences where professionals of arts and other disciplines will talk about future without “futurology” and will address the topic “what feeds art?”.

The exhibition area, designed by Andrés Jaque, leaves the stands on a side and propose a fluid space, more theatrical, that invites to immerse yourself into works of artists such as Salvador Dalí, Patricia Domínguez, Eva Fábregas, Ragina Giménez or the Brazilian OPAVIVARÁ.

Highlights ARCO 2018

  • Artists of different generations or geopolitical contexts interrelate in the 13 galleries that form Diálogos. Another trio of women, María de Corral, Lorena Martínez de Corral and Catalina Lozano are in charge of the selection, where we meet interesting duos such as Luca Frei and Vaclav Pozarek in Barbara Wien or Nuno Sousa Vieira and Ana Vieira in Graça Brandao.
  • If you are looking for emerging art, don’t miss the selection by Opening, the youngest galleries that present novice artists. A support for a research way beyond the usual spotlights, like the one of the artist and mathematician Pepe Vidal in LMNO, Marco Godoy in Copperfield or Indrikis Gelzis in Cinnamon Galley.

  • The young sculptor Joana Vasconcelos comes to ARCO after closing an exhibition of her work in Lisbon that became the most visited workpiece of the history of Portugal. Her colorful and disruptive installation is one of the must see of the fair.
  • Another imperative this year is the glass pavilion and mirror of Dan Graham.
  • In the path you can’t miss a visit to the gallery of Juana de Aizpuru, founder of ARCO, who this year presents, among others, the installation about nomadism that Jordi Colomer manufactured for the Spanish Pavilion of the past Venice Biennale and the work of Cristina de Middel, National Photography Prize 2017, in an edition with few photographic works.
Performance by Jordi Colomer, Juana de Aizpuru Gallery
  • Francisco Leiro brings to ARCO the war in the Middle East. Alepo is a set of sculptures formed by two columns, each one crossed by four corpses and emerged “in the wake of all that information we saw on the news of the besieged town during the war in Syria, all these white ruins and these bodies coming out of the rubble, white, covered in gypsum dust coming from the collapsing buildings”, explains the Galician sculptor to El Mundo. A large work made of wood, on fetish material.
Francisco Leiro and his sculpture Alepo. Photo: Luis de las Alas.
  • Interesting debate with productive experts during these 5 days in ARCO. In this edition, you might meet, among the assistants, personalities such as Jonathan Anderson or Claudia Hakim, who will intervene in the Foro de Coleccionismo, Gary Tinterow, who will take part to the Foro Museos, or Timothy Morton, in the seminar about future.

Espacio Fundación ARCO 2018 by Estudio Alegría

Among galleries, relax spaces are crucial. For instance, the Fundación ARCO hall this year has been designed by Estudio Alegría, also looking at a future he identifies with innovation. This “hub art” is located between the exhibition hall and the meeting point of art lovers and collectors.


The integration of the selection of the works that are part of the background of Fundación and that can be seen these days in its hall, didn’t represent a problem for a studio used to include art in all its projects. “We do not conceive projects without art, without illumination or prestigious materials”, explains Manuel Such. Based on this selection, in which they collaborate with the 4D/ARTY consultant, most of the elements came out: the works illumination challenge, the Roche Bobois furniture, with very current and innovating pieces of the author design, and the Nogal Morfeo floor of the Étude22 by Finsa collection, “an avant-garde and futurist design, very different to any other floor and in line with this idea of future”, points out Ignacio Alegría. A space where everything is intended for the visitors who pass by enjoying a space in line with the art works it contains, and assuming the role of protagonists, with a special tribute to a Daniel Steegmann’s work.

VIP Lounge ARCO 2018 by Cuarto Interior

Every year the fair launches a competition for the design of the VIP lounge, which this year was won by the studio Cuarto Interior of Madrid. A project inspired by light and polar auroras, divided into three spaces (entrance, lounge bar and restaurant) where the protagonists are furniture designs and illumination. The light sculpture in the ceiling, becoming a sky in the space center, formed by 17 licks illuminated by a dynamic led recreating the polar aurora, is spectacular.



In ARCO you can go out with a piece of work under your arm for just 1,000 Euros. The sculptures of Mónica Planes, the collages of Katjia Angeli or the drawings of Pep Vidal are around that price. To encourage young people, but not so young that they don’t have a 6-figure number in their bank account, comes the label #mecomprounaobra that identifies the most affordable pieces. We don’t find it next to “Nature morte”, a Picasso estimated to be 2.5 million Euros brought by Leandro Navarro and turned into the most expensive work of the fair. The works showing #mecomprounaobra cost less than 5,000 Euros. A way of avoiding the fear of enquiring for prices in a place like ARCO.

ARCO outside ARCO

ARCO is not confined to four walls. Contemporary art can be felt all over the city, thanks to exhibitions in galleries and museums, such as the one by William Kentridge in el Reina Sofía or the one by John Akomfrah in the Thyssen or the one by Doris Salcedo in the Palacio de Cristal. A new edition of JustMad, the emerging art fair of Madrid, the fair of urban art, is also celebrated. Urvanity Art in COAM, ArtMadrid in CentroCentro Cibeles or Drawing Room, focused on contemporary drawing. If you want to get close to the artist privacy, this month some of them open the doors of their studios in Open Studio Madrid.

If you cannot visit Madrid, you always got the virtual option. Have a walk along the platform, that allows you to explore the fair and the exposed works. Are you up to it?