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Contemporary Art Now Ibiza returns after game changing first year24th May 2023

CAN Ibiza 2022, photo by Maria Santos Photography

Last year’s Contemporary Art Now (CAN) Ibiza fair founded by Sergio Sanchez was an enormous success. This sets the bar high for this year’s fair, running between 12 and 16 July. 

CAN Ibiza 2022, held at FECOEV, a large space with plenty of natural light near the Dalt Vila, featured 36 galleries from 13 different countries including the US, Germany, Japan and Spain. Among the 5000 visitors last year were many important collectors from all over the world. Visitors purchased 80% of the art.

The fair was supported by brands such as Gucci and Glenfiddich & Barceló Spain.

This year’s CAN, also held at FECOEV, showcases work by more than 100 artists and roughly the same amount of galleries. The goal, the CAN website says, is introduce ‘some of the most refreshing and recognized artists’ working today.

Sergio Sancho, founder CAN Ibiza, photo Maria Santos Photography

Sergio Sancho: from advertising to art

Madrid-born CAN founder Sergio Sancho spent 15 years in advertising. Earlier this year, Sergio told Spanish Vanity Fair that, while working in an ad agency that shared a common area with an art gallery, he saw an exhibition by Julio Falagán that resonated with him and he bought a piece. That was 20 years ago.

In 2016, Sergio created the Urvanity Art fair in Madrid which, this year, evolved into UVNT Art Fair

Speaking to Vanity Fair, Sergio highlighted the connection between luxury brands such as Gucci and Balanciaga and contemporary art. He talked about the need to bring art closer to the public. 

Sergio also profiled the new breed of art collector as young with considerable purchasing power. They might have made their money in online business. Their tastes may be very different from those of older collectors.

For Sergio and his team, CAN Ibiza is a chance to do something alternative to Madrid. This means a much more international approach. 

CAN Ibiza 2022, photo by Maria Santos Photography


CAN Ibiza

The idea for CAN Ibiza was sparked by a visit Sergio made to Ibiza to check out an exhibition by Madrid artist Rafa Maccarón at  La Fundación La Navé La Salinas.

‘I met super-nice people, including collectors,’ he told me, ‘and thought that maybe we could do something on the island. Up until then, we didn’t have anything happening in the summer or targeting the international art scene. I started working on CAN Ibiza right away.’

The vision is to blend ‘the excitement of the contemporary art scene with the easygoing attitude of the Mediterranean lifestyle’.

Sergio’s curator began by selecting artists then contacting the gallery that represents them and inviting them to the fair. ‘It wasn’t so difficult,’ Sergio explained. ‘Ibiza is an appealing destination and the galleries could see this was a great opportunity.’

As far as sponsors were concerned, ‘I have many contacts with brands from my advertising days,’ Sergio said. ‘And another part of our company specializes in connecting brands with the art world. Ibiza is somewhere they always want to be.’

Sergio also realized that since the pandemic, an increasing number of people are choosing to live on Ibiza all year round and they’re hungry for culture. Many of them come from the same background as the new breed of collector he identified for Vanity Fair.

‘The island needs more cultural projects of this kind,’ he said. ‘In the past there were well-connected artists like Rafael Tur Costa but today the island only has a few galleries and the scene is not very integrated.’

CAN Ibiza 2022, photo by Maria Santos Photography

The new figurative painting dominates

The way Sergio sees it, if there was a dominant art mode in Ibiza in the past, it was abstract painting. At CAN Ibiza, however, 90% of the work will be what’s called ‘new figurative’ painting. 

New figurative art is exactly what you’d imagine, a return to representation in art — although it has to be said that it’s not especially new.

‘I think this art connects more with young people and it’s the art that I love and collect,’ Sergio told me. ‘We can connect better with this kind of artist. I also think the island needs to support these new young painters and encourage buyers to collect something different.’

Joining the dots: the Ibiza art scene

For Charles Marlow, supporting Ibiza’s art scene is a way to give back to a place and people who are sharing so much with us. 

So it’s heartening to discover that as part of CAN Ibiza 2023, Sergio and his team will be connecting collectors with galleries, organizing studio visits and launching projects by local artists to promote the scene.

‘We don’t just disappear after an event,’ Sergio said. ‘We want to encourage the international art world to focus on the island and do everything we can to sustain art on Ibiza. That means making something people can invest in: more artists’ studios, more galleries and a bigger, more lively super-local scene.’

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