Lima's Flourishing Contemporary Art Scene
Lima has witnessed an incredible cultural and economic upsurge over the last 25 years which has seen it emerge not only as a well known world class centre of gastronomy but also as a perhaps lesser known beating heart of Latin American art and culture.
Conventional city tours have always included visits to the famous Larco Museum with it’s fabulous collection of Pre-Colombian art and artefacts (and also its very good restuarant!) and the Museo Pedro de Osama, which displays ostentatious works from the Spanish Viceroyalty together with slightly naïve indigenous interpretations of the style, and it will surprise few that Peru has long had some of the best displays of such artworks in South America.
However, to get to the heart of the bubbling contemporary art scene the best places to head are both the modern, clean cut San Isidro Bairro and the more bohemian Barranco district.
In San Isidro we recommend a visit to Rosario Orjeda’s Vertice gallery and Cristina Quimper de Trazegnie’s La Galeria as well as the unmissable Enlace – a striking exhibition space covering two floors of a townhouse which combines the tranquillity of its inner garden with a highly dynamic exhibition programme.
A short distance South of San Isidro in is the well known Miraflores district, where you will find Fórum, El Ojo Ajeno and the bold, black façade of Giancarlo Scaglia’s Revolver Galeria. Revolver’s programme is particularly enhanced by an international residencies project (designed to create dialogue between local and international artists) that leaves the visitor with both a keen sense of Peruvian cultural identity and a comparison with artists from the rest of the world.
Art lovers should also go to MAC, Lima’s newest and highly impressive Museum of Contemporary Art. Its minimalistic, rectangular exhibition halls house a permanent collection of work by Latin American and European artists from the past 60 years as well as regular exhibitions (most recently of David LaChapelle), covering abstract expressionism, constructivism, conceptual art and pieces clearly influenced by surrealism and pop art.
Over in the Barranco district is the famous MATE museum in the Mario Mansion. Mario Testino, Peru’s most famous photographer of all time opened the museum for his works in his native city, Lima after 30 years in exile. The works in his home town (conceived by the artist while in exile) feature a broad mixture of subjects, from Madonna, Princess Diana (who’s Versace gown from Testino’s 1997 Vanity Fair cover hangs proud in the pavilion) to traditional Peruvians, but all showcasing his unique surfaces, tones and gloss.
To be completely immersed by the art scene in Lima, we’d suggest staying in Barracano itself. Hotel B, Lima’s recently opened and first arts-boutique hotel is an eclectic treasure-trove of artworks dating from the 18th Century right up to the present day, including a striking Warhol which greets you in the bar! Many of the artworks are on loan from the Lucia de la Puente Gallery, which is located right next door.
To discover more about Lima’s complete cross section of galleries and museums from Pre-Colombian days to the present, take a look at Paul Richardson’s article in Christie’s Magazine