The paper – for centuries the universal support for the infinite art ideas of the mankind – is the central character of the international art fair Wopart – Work on Paper Art Fair who took place on September 15 to 17 at the Lugano Exhibition Centre, in Switzerland.
Collectors, experts and fans had the opportunity for an extensive overview of artworks made on this very material: ancient drawings and modern prints (Guercino, Salvator Rosa, Andy Warhol, Karel Appel…), artists’ books and watercolors (Enrico Baj, Pierre August Renoir, Francis Picabia…) Oriental prints and works by modern and contemporary artists (Gustav Klimt, Carol Rama, Joseph Kosut…). And artistic photography, as well, with images by Ai Wei Wei, Edward Quinn and Mario Cresci, among others.
Photography meant here to be a tangible work on paper (i.e. a photographic print) and not a virtual image (“fotofania” as the historian of photography Italo Zannier calls digital images). It’s a “photography” that, by doing in reverse the very process of his own beginning, is no longer merely a description of the reality, but it also turns into communication. Photography so far occupied a fairly small space In Wopart (10% of the works on stage), but its interaction with a multifaceted variety of images and techniques seemed quite interesting.
Wopart, at its second edition, hosted seventy-five galleries from fourteen countries, chosen by a scientific committee chaired by Giandomenico di Marzio and Paolo Manazza. The event offered a deeper understanding of artworks on paper (the medium on which the original idea, the newborn intuition, is written down) and the market for them, a niche that is attracting interest from collectors and fans, thanks to both their accessible price range (i.e. over 60% of contemporary drawings sold in 2016 cost less than 5000 US$) and the number of available works.
The fair also included side events like Wopart/Talks: conversations, interviews and lectures by artists, art historians and critics, specialists in art investments. Four focus exhibitions were also on: I mille volti del kabuki presenting a collection of ukiyo-e prints from the Museum of Cultures in Lugano; Arte di carta e d’Azione with artworks from the collection of the Centro per l’Arte Contemporanea Luigi Pecci in Prato; the installation Le storie rosse by Emilio Isgrò.
The fourth exhibition was 1930-1970: la fotografa d’avanguardia in Italia dalla collezione Prelz Oltramonti, curated by Walter Guadagnini and Camera, Centro Italiano per la Fotografia (Turin). With its forty images, it displayed an overview of Italian photography (Luigi Cavalli, Nino Migliori, Mario Giacomelli, Luigi Veronesi and Mimmo Jodice, among others) in that period: a semantic and formal investigation of utmost significance in the international sphere.
Paola Sammartano is a journalist specialized in the art of photography and based in Milan, Italy.
Wopart – Work on Paper Art Fair
September 15 to September 17, 2017
Lugano Exhibition Centre
Via Campo Marzio