Latin American Galleries Inject Vibrancy into Frieze New York

This year’s Frieze New York, with 68 galleries on three floors of the Shed in Manhattan’s Hudson Yards, is boosted by a vibrant showing of Latin American galleries. The 11 galleries in the Focus section in particular, reserved for emerging galleries under 12 years old and selected by curator Lumi Tan, reflect that vitality. 

The strongest galleries convey a sense of locality, often of Indigenous communities, with a particular sensitivity to environmental issues. Carmézia Emiliano, a Macuxi artist represented by São Paulo’s Central Galeria, tells stories of her hometown of Maloca do Japó centered on collective labor, feasts, and ancestral deities in her richly patterned oil paintings. Central’s founder, Fernanda Basile Resstom, told Hyperallergic that the gallery, which debuts at Frieze this year, is optimistic about bringing Indigenous and local contemporary art to international audiences. This is part of a larger pattern — Brazil’s Indigenous artists and curators also feature prominently in the 2024 Venice Biennale. Meanwhile, Mitre Galeria, which was founded in Belo Horizonte in 2015, showcases Black Brazilian artist Davi de Jesus do Nascimento, who explores ancestral roots, fishing communities, fluvial deities, and queer identity across various media.

Latin American galleries also make an impact in the main section of the fair. Proyectos Ultravioleta, which was founded in Guatemala City in 2009 and graduated from the Focus section three years ago, shows delicate pastel drawings by Chilean artist Johanna Unzueta; sensuous mixed-media works by Argentine-Swiss artist Vivian Suter; and a photograph by Guatemalan artist Regina José Galindo (currently also at MoMA PS1) that documents “Rivers of People” (2022), a performance by Galindo alongside Guatemalan Indigenous artists. 

Attention to nature and environmental questions also underline the compelling booth by Instituto de Visión, which graduated to the main section this year. Here, works from a robust mix of midcareer and older artists are on view, including landscape drawings by Colombian Nohemí Pérez, whose art is also showcased by Paris- and Bogotá-based Mor Charpentier; ceramics by Argentinian artist Claudia Fontes merging human figuration with organic forms; and the intricate ink-on-paper works by Abel Rodríguez (Mogaje Guihu) of the Amazon’s Nonuya people. 

Fortes d’Aiola & Gabriel, which has frequented Frieze NY since its inception, brings renowned Brazilian artists working across abstraction and figuration, including Beatriz Milhazes, Luiz Zerbini, and Valeska Soares. Meanwhile, Mendes Wood DM, in São Paulo since 2010 and New York since 2022, shows rising painters Paula Siebra and Marina Perez Simão, and sensual gold ink-and-pen drawings by Black Brazilian artist Antonio Obá. 

Galleries from Africa are much sparser: Stevenson Gallery, from Cape Town, Johannesburg, and Amsterdam, returns after an absence since 2018. A highlight of that booth is Moshekwa Langa, a key post-1990 South African artist, whose practice spans installation, photography, video, and drawing, presenting an abstract mixed-media work on paper. Gauzy embroideries on transparent fabric by Angolan artist Ana Silva at Brazil’s A Gentil Carioca, a veteran of this fair, alongside Brazilian artists Vivian Caccuri and Laura Lima, brings up a key lack in the programming. While the fair’s abundance of Latin American art reaffirms the historically strong ties of Latin American artists to New York as a multicultural hub, I wish that connections to other art hubs in Africa and Asia were as forcefully present.

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