ArtRio: Inside Rio’s Booming Art Scene

From Niemeyer’s undulating curves to Tom Jobim’s rythmic rifts, Rio’s natural beauty has long been a source of creative inspiration. Yet for some time locals lamented a cultural scene that could, and should, have been much stronger – it appeared as if Cariocas had fallen out of the habit of engaging in any culture more complex than sun, sea and choppes. Yet in the last 12 months, the opening of two new contemporary Art Museums, MAR and Casa Daros, have done much to fuel any already growing spark, ignited when ArtRio, Rio’s first contemporary international art fair launched in 2010. 3 years on, we talk to ArtRio founder Brenda Valansi about a booming art scene with a very different future.


What lead you to start ArtRio?

I was working as an artist myself, and as Rio began to gain more international attention because of the World Cup and Olympics, I began to wonder ‘Why doesn’t Rio have its own art-fair when there are so many artists?’ We didn’t have a platform.

And has that changed?

The last few years have made a huge difference with an ever-growing number of gallery openings and exhibitions – people are really getting involved and the whole industry is booming.


What about ArtRio?

Well, we have grown from a team of 4 people to 24. In terms of galleries, we will actually have a few less than we did last year, but this is out of choice – The difference this time will be the space, we are down from 120 galleries to 105, but we have one extra warehouse, which gives the galleries a real opportunity to do something creative.

How does ArtRio stand out from other fairs in Latin America?

Rio is a fabulous city – everyone wants an excuse to come here for a few days, so we decided to create a week packed with events and private dinners and to stimulate others to hold events, so people start to realize that if there is one week of the year you just have to be in Rio, that this is it!

ArtRio Exhibits

What guestlist should we be charming our way on to?

The black-tie gala-ball at MAR on the Thursday night is the hot ticket, so good luck….

MAR is one of the first project’s to be completed in Porta Maravilha, what effect do you think the regeneration will have on the art scene?

Projects like MAR are fundamental to the art scene and regenerating what was once the cultural heart of the city and will be again. When we chose Pier Mauá as the location for the fair, this was a very conscious decision, not just because it has to be the most striking location in the world for an art fair, but because we needed to be part of this movement.

Pier Mauá

Are the Cariocas ready?

There is definitely a growing culture in appreciating art and visiting galleries. How to approach the public has always been a challenge for us – to take away the idea that art is not just for millionaires and intellectuals, but for everyone.


What galleries not to miss?

From Brazil, the galleries I would look out for are Anita Schwartz, Galeria Fortes Vilaça, and A Gentil Carioca. Of the new international galleries, Curro & Poncho (Guadalajara , Mexico), Emmanuel Hervé (Paris, France), Société (Berlin, Germany) and Thomas Brambilla (Milan, Italy).

What are you most excited about?

Our Vista program dedicated to young galleries presenting experimental projects and booths exclusively conceived for the fair.

ArtRio's Vista Program

ArtRio runs from September 5 (Thursday) 8 (Sunday) – open to general public from 1 pm until 9 pm.
Preview to selected guests – September 4
Venue: Pier Mauá (Pavilion 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5) – Av. Rodrigues Alves 10 – RJ
Tickets on sale at the websites:

Oasis Collection’s pick of what not to miss over the long weekend

1.The Pre-Event: Zanini de Zanine and Mercado Moderno
One of Brazil’s hottest young talents on the design scene, Zanini de Zanine, joins forces with Rio’s legendary design store Mercado Moderno to launch the latest exhibition Car Never Die. Expect the movers and shakers of the design scene and ice-cold beers under one–exposed beam roof on the eve of ArtRio. For a sneak peak, watch this.
Where/ When – Mercardo Moderno, Rua do Lavradio 130, Lapa – from 6:30pm

2. The Alternative: ArtRua
A vibrant celebration of the city’s Street Art culture, ArtRua is now in its second year and will take over two restored warehouses of 7,500m2 in the Olympic Village of Gamboa. The aim of the project is to ensure that Street Art is integrated into the urban revitalization of Rio’s Port Area. As well as a series of talks, live art performances and bands, it is also an excuse for a party worthy of Rio’s hippest creative crew. While the official opening is on Thursday, Djs will be spinning from 23:00 Friday and Saturday night until 6 am. Pick of the bunch is DJ collective Triple Crown, who finish things off on Saturday night at 2:30 am.
Where/When – Galpões de Vila Olimpica 5-8 September


3. The Closing-Party: Super-Uber – AntiMatéria
When creative agency Super-Uber opened their office-cum-gallery in a converted 3-story warehouse in the heart of Gamboa, they were well ahead of the curve. Now the heart of their creative matrix and regular pop-up events, Sunday sees them throw open their doors for the first edition of Anti-Matéria – a series of pocket shows from 8 bands representative of the avant-gard wave currently in underground vogue.
Where/When – Rua Silvino Montenegro 78, Gamboa. Sunday 8 September 6 pm-12 am. Invite only, contact Super-Uber for more details

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