ARA interviews Chiqui Castro, the ProArte foundation’s director and an advocate for Ecuadorian art in the rest of the world.

Interview by Julia Franc Miñana

  1. Fundación Proarte first participated in Hybrid Art Fair Madrid in 2023. Can you share some details about its involvement and contribution to the event?

At the fair, we represented six Ecuadorian artists: Pamela Suasti, Polii Lunar, Jimmy Lara, Chay Velasco, Elio Wong and Erick Franco, enabling them to exhibit their work in person. We also had Mafer Landín, a professional photographer and content creator, responsible for the Foundation’s social networks. We were able to share our experiences of Ecuador’s art scene in real-time, giving visibility not only to their exhibitions at Hybrid but also to their daily lives as individuals: their visits to the Prado, Reina Sofía, Soroya and Thyssen-Bornemisza museums, as well as their stay in Madrid.

  1. How did you first come up with the idea of founding Fundación ProArte, what was the reason behind its creation and which is its primary purpose?

I was President of the Guayaquil Country Club and was in charge of designing, funding and building its new headquarters in Samborondón for almost eight years. In the process, I started collecting art for the Club and promoted the creation of an exhibition space as part of its corporate social commitment. That introduced me to the art scene, and I also started my collection. I fell totally in love with art and have dedicated countless sleep hours to it to learn as much as possible. The Foundation is therefore born on this collecting platform, bringing us close to artists, gallery owners, curators and art managers. Our goal is to provide visibility and opportunities for artists to market their work by starting with acquiring and showing at home. I always say that our approach is entrepreneurial.

  1. Can you briefly explain what Fundación ProArte is about and which are its main activities and projects?

The Foundation is currently working on three levels: 1) We manage the exhibition space at the Guayaquil Country Club locally, where we have already had around 15 solo and group exhibitions; 2) We promote the participation of artists at art fairs and exhibitions in other countries, having successfully exhibit 12 artists in Budapest, Miami, Madrid and Milan, and signed these artists with galleries outside Ecuador; and, 3) We manage a digital exhibition space at ARTSY, where we have successfully sold works globally. All of this in just a year and a bit. However, it is important to clarify that although the Foundation takes on the role of a gallery, it works to promote and secure funding for self-management rather than being a gallery in the proper sense of the word. 

We are preparing our second participation in Hybrid 2024, our favorite fair. We have the idea of developing an artistic residency in Ecuador and an Ibero-American fair.

  1. How was the experience of working in Spain for the promotion and growth of art? Which opportunities and challenges has Fundación ProArte found in the Spanish art scene?

I have to begin by answering the question by thanking the Ecuadorian Ambassador Andrés Vallejo and the First Secretary Francisco Chiriboga, both art fanatics, not only for providing institutional support but also for bringing the artworks we brought to Hybrid to exhibitions at the Ecuadorian Cultural Centre, and for making it possible for Pamela Suasti and Polii Lunar to participate in the Ibero-American Fair in Alcalá de Henares. Moreover, our work in Spain has been precious for the development of the Foundation, that is, the success of our artists. We have taken artworks to Colección Chambao and Colección Aldebarán. Three artists we bring to Hybrid have already signed with Espacio Líquido, La Gran and Galería Llamazares, which gives us a big smile of “mission accomplished”. The contacts we have made with you, Aída, Ana, Fede and Ludovica in Madrid also helped us to open the doors to Milan. My relationship with Victorino Rosón and Ignacio Ortiz has enriched my knowledge and collection in Spain and other fairs we have attended. As director of the Foundation and as a collector, I will continue to create relationships with other galleries, managers and artists on the Spanish scene, but, more than anything else, start new friendships, which is what most moves, delights and fulfils me.

Interview by Julia Franc Miñana

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