LIMA (Reuters Life!) - A three-day fair at an upscale hotel is showcasing the work of contemporary Peruvian artists to a growing legion of middle class art collectors and enthusiasts with money to spend.
Desenfranquiciados Colectivo, curators of Peru's youthful, anti-establishment art scene, chose a luxury hotel for the event that aims to change the art market in Peru.
The show features the work of 45 Peruvian artists, including photographs, paintings, sculptures, lithographs and illustrations, each on sale for $500 or less.
"The goal of Desenfranquiciados is to make art more accessible to the public and to buyers as well as artists, particularly young artists," said Nicolas Figari, an abstract photographer and one of the collective's lead organizers.
For the past two decades Lima's art world has been controlled by a small group of family-owned galleries with little interest in contemporary art, according to Figari.
"It's run by 20 or 30 galleries and it's not easy for a young artist to get in. You have to have contacts and money. Desenfranquiciados is a really good way to get into the art market because we give everyone a shot," he said.
The collective was founded in 2004 by Figari's former teacher, Maria Elena Alvarado Boggio, a multimedia artist and instructor at the city's Centro de la Imagen.
Alvarado hosted the first Desenfranquiciados exhibition in her apartment. Since she returned in 2008 after two years in New York, Desenfranquiciados has hosted about four art shows a year.
"The idea was to show the works of artists who weren't in the gallery circuit, not for aesthetic reasons but for economic reasons. At the time commercial galleries were showing a lot of modernist work but there wasn't much interest in contemporary pieces, which perhaps were a bit more provocative," Alvarado explained.
"The collective's success makes it clear that there is a market in Lima that wants to buy art but doesn't have the money to buy at the prices set by galleries."
While galleries in Lima typically charge artists commissions up to 35 percent of the work's sticker price, artists who show with Desenfranquiciados receive all of the proceeds.
For newcomers the show represents a unique opportunity to display work in a gallery setting and to mingle with collectors. Desenfranquiciados events also lure well-known artists whose work commands higher prices elsewhere.
"The reason I participate is because it is easy to sell a bunch of work really fast," said Jaime Higa, a mixed-media artist and owner of Lima's Bruno Gallery.
"In large part the movement has been fueled by the fact that more people are economically better off and can invest in younger artists," Higa explained.
Photographer Eduardo Hirose sold a series of six photographs within the first 10 minutes of the fair, Figari said.
Reporting by Emily Schmall; Editing by Patricia Reaney