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SWAB: Interview with Joaquín Díez-Cascón

Joaquín Díez-Cascón and Patricia Blasco

AfN: The first question is about the amazing name of the fair, SWAB. Why have you chosen this name? Does it somehow reflect the spirit of the fair?

Díez-Cascón: We took the word "swap" and added "b" from Barcelona instead of "p"; and like a SWAB we try to collect samples from contemporary art in order to find the youngest and most innovative art worldwide.

AfN: You are architect and collector, so we can say that here in SWAB you have put your two biggest passions together. Your architectural team has designed the fair inside of this emblematic building, the Reales Atarazanas. How was this project born? What challenges did you face, taking into account that it was a private initiative with a small and familiar team and that it is the first contemporary art fair in Barcelona?

Díez-Cascón: Three persons have organized it: Fernando Rial, Marina Díez-Cascón and myself. We all are architects. Fernando has designed the internal architecture of the fair and have addapted it to the gothic building, where the ships were made in the Middle Ages. We thought Barcelona needed an art fair equivalent to Volta, Pulse or Frieze, for example, and we have tried to take the contemporary art to the fair through 42 galleries from 13 countries, which work basically with young artists.

AfN: It is worth noting the high ratio of foreign galleries; only 7 out of 42 are from Spain, 4 of them from Barcelona. Which form does SWAB want to acquire in the future? And what will be its personal hallmark?

Díez-Cascón: We want to have the maximum number of foreign galleries, because we think the galleries of Barcelona are already well represented in the city. That's why we also created "SWAB in the city", a series of exhibitions in the galleries of Barcelona which relates SWAB to the city. That's why we wanted to count on foreign galleries, and we'll keep on doing that in the next years.

AfN: What kind of work can be found in SWAB?

Díez-Cascón: Drawing and painting, basically, but also photography and sculpture. This year we have asked the gallerists not to bring video because we didn't want to coincide with LOOP, which will be hold in Barcelona in a few days. The most of the artists here are young, born after 1970.

AfN: What about collecting? Which kind of collector do you have here?

Reales Atarazanas

Díez-Cascón: This fair is for all those collectors who, as myself, already have a small collection and who like contemporary art made by very young artists. It's also for foundations and companies, and we especially want to initiate the young collectors who maybe still don't know that they are going to be collectors but will begin today.

AfN: What are your impressions after the first day? What are the prospects for this first edition?

Díez-Cascón: I think everything is going right, people are liking it very much. Personally, I'm really having to stop myself from buying one of the wonderful works of art that I can see here... We are expecting to have about 5000 visitors, and I hope the gallery owners will be satisfied with their experience in Barcelona.

AfN: Despite the great potential of Barcelona in terms of galleries and artists, some of the experts say the art market in Barcelona is at a standstill. Does SWAB want to pick it up again? In which context does SWAB take place?

Díez-Cascón: Well, I think they didn't know the artists that have come to Barcelona. That's why we have created SWAB: the world is producing some kind of art that can not be seen in Barcelona, where sometimes we don't even know that it exists. We take those artists to Barcelona and let the people know them, so can they become collectors.

AfN: This year, SWAB won't coincide with LOOP, the videoart fair which will take place in Barcelona at the end of May. Have you thought about the possibility of working together in the next years?

Díez-Cascón: That's our plan, we will try to coincide in the future. We hope it is possible. The problem is the calendar, but I think both of the fairs are interested in working together.

AfN: I would like to know a bit more about your collection... How long have you been collecting? What kind of art do you look for? Did you always collect emerging art?

Díez-Cascón: I have liked art ever since I was a child. At first I was undecided as to whether I should choose to study fine art or architecture. I came to realize, having painted for a year, that my work was really not that good, but although I gave up painting to study architecture, I never gave up collecting works of art. Of course, it has developed over the years, and right now I just collect emerging art. I had a small collection based on Spanish artists, which I have been selling in order to turn it into my current collection, based in young artists from all over the world who worked in the 70's and 80's…

AfN: How do you see SWAB within the next 5 years?

Díez-Cascón: Well, I would like to make a fair like Volta or Pulse, where the people know they can find really young artists who are going to be internationally acclaimed. A place to go if you want to enjoy and have fun.

AfN: Thank you very much, Joaquín.

Díez-Cascón: Thank you.

Interview: Patricia Blasco.

Translation: Raúl Molín López

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