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Art and the island – CAN Art Fair Ibiza 2024

The high-end art fair with a laid-back vibe is back for its third edition.

Some cities in the world are known not because they’re beautiful or historic, but because of a single cultural event. Would anyone consider Basel if it weren’t for its annual art fair? What about Cannes’ international reputation without the film festival, or Bilbao without the Guggenheim? While these things are now part of the common lexicon, it wasn’t always so. The pioneers who first mounted them exceeded apparently insurmountable obstacles to create globally recognised cultural phenomena. Sergio Sancho and his team at CAN Art Fair Ibiza are three years into a quest to do the same for Ibiza.

Sancho’s passion for art started at the age of 24 when he bought his first original piece. “I worked in an advertising agency in Madrid that shared space with an art gallery,” he says. “I started to think about what it means to acquire works. I noticed a lot of art never reaches the capital, so in 2017 I launched UVNT Art Fair during Madrid Art Week to address the issue.” He’d been visiting Ibiza regularly since his teenage years, yet it wasn’t until he lived on the island during the pandemic that he recognised an opportunity. “It just clicked into place,” he says. “A lot of people in the art world seem to have some kind of connection to the island, and a lot of people in Ibiza are really eager to discover art. I realised it would be possible to do a cultural project here.” And so, CAN Art Fair Ibiza was born.

The name stands for Contemporary Art Now and plays on the Catalan word can that conveys the idea of an estate, farm, or house. The inaugural fair took place in 2022 and showcased a mix of galleries representing established and emerging artists from across Europe, America, and Asia, offering a vibrant and diverse array of work that celebrated contemporary trends and innovative expressions. From Wednesday, June 26 to Sunday, June 30, the 2024 CAN Art Fair Ibiza takes place at FECOEV, otherwise known as Recinto Ferial, in Can Misses near Ibiza town.

CAN Art Fair Ibiza is distinctive for its timing. “After Basel in early June, there’s really nothing on the international art calendar until September,” says Sancho. “If you’re going to set up an art fair in the summer, where better to do it than Ibiza?” The fair features a strong representation of international galleries, in addition to placing a significant emphasis on local Balearic artists. This initiative is part of Sancho’s broader vision to foster a dynamic cultural ecosystem in Ibiza and engage the international art community. It’s still Ibiza, however, so Sancho made sure the schedule was fit for purpose, opening the doors from 6pm until 10pm (and from 12pm on Sundays), allowing participants the chance to fully enjoy the island.

The Netherlands-based Saša Bogojev curates this year’s CAN Art Fair Ibiza, presenting more than 30 galleries including, for the first time, reps from Canada, Turkey, Portugal and Scotland. Celebrating fresh voices, established artists, and a cohort of passionate and connected gallerists, visitors can expect to see a variety of forms, aesthetics, mediums and scales. “Highlights include Sara Birns’ solo booth at Cassina Projects and works from José María Yturralde, winner of Spain’s National Visual Arts Prize for his life’s work,” says Bogojev. “I’m particularly excited about Akiinoue from Tokyo who is bringing a selection of mostly Japanese artists. We’re also focusing on platforming an increasing number of galleries from the Balearic Islands.”

That CAN Art Fair Ibiza has been able to expand its international reach in such a short time frame is testament to its growing popularity. For Ibiza locals and visitors, this is the time to grab an original piece before it goes platinum. In addition to the art shown at FECOEV, there’s the return of the OFF Program of parallel activities including studio visits, gallery tours, and culturally enriching dinners, providing an immersive experience. Locations include Faro de Ses Coves Blanques, Sa Punta des Molí, Sala Capitular at the Ibiza Town Hall and includes a major public sculpture in Dalt Vila.

As part of the CAN Art Fair Ibiza OFF Program, Mallorcan artists Alejandro Joyayolas and Bartomeu Sastre will both show works while ceramicist Jaume Roig takes over the old air raid shelter in Santa Eulalia, a location steeped in history. “Ibiza has such a rich artistic tradition,” says Sancho. “I think it is important for people to know about that and how it makes this place so unique. We’re obsessed with bringing people to the island to soak it up, and we see the value of growing this aspect of the community.”

Most major fairs drill down on sales and the backroom wheeling and dealing for which the art world is famous, but CAN Art Fair Ibiza is almost the antithesis. “It’s conceived from the point of view of sharing,” Sancho says. “It’s small and manageable; the gallerists talk to each other, and many collaborations have grown from it. The atmosphere is much more relaxed and that facilitates conversation. I love the fact that people can show up in flip-flops and invest in a piece of art for their home.”

In this third instalment of the event, CAN Art Fair Ibiza has established itself on the international calendar as the young upstart, pushing the boundaries of who art is for and where it can be shown. Sancho’s vision is well on the way to transforming Ibiza into a cultural hotspot, proving that art can flourish in the most unexpected places. Whether you’re an art enthusiast, collector, or simply curious, CAN Art Fair Ibiza invites you to be part of a cultural movement that is as laid-back as it is inspiring.