I have gone to conferences and even ComicCon in the past, but Arte Fierra Bologna is the first art fair that I have seen. I spent much of the day there on Friday, February 3. Directions to the entrance were oddly lacking in the publicity for the event, so I naturally started off in the wrong direction from my bus stop. I was rescued by a mother and daughter from Modena; the daughter seemed to know where she was going, so I tagged along.
It is interesting to compare the experience of Arte Fierra with a visit to the Uffizi Gallery in Florence a few years ago. In the Uffizi I felt glutted and drained, as if I had no more attention to give. At Arte Fierra, I felt better at the end of the day, more energized. There could be many reasons for this, but I think one important reason is that contemporary art often requires less attention. Often it is less detailed; its 'idea' is either obvious or deliberately hidden. You don't have to examine it closely to know whether it interests you.
After entering the fair I stood around at the first of the many booths and asked myself "why are you here?" I decided that the answer was "to find out what I like!" to choose from the smorgasbord and later try to discover common threads in what I liked. I wrote down the names of about a dozen artists, and I took a few pictures of things that I wanted to remember.
My favorite artwork in the show was a blue abstract painting by Claudio Verna. I did not get a picture of it, unfortunately, because it was in a small alcove and it was hard to get near it. Apparently Verna was wandering around Arte Fierra - he is 80 years old or so and still painting. I also liked some scrappy little cartoonish pictures by Gustavo Foppiani and some soft-edged abstractions by Mirko Baricchi. There were lots of well-known artists in the booths, too: Baechler, DeChirico, Severini, Moore. I liked the large, fragmentary neo-classical heads by Igor Mittoraj.
So I think I know a bit more about what I like now: beautiful textures and fantasy.