NEW YORK—Demand for work by Argentine realist painter Martin La Rosa (b. 1972) is already widespread and continuing to rise, says Jean Skidmore, assistant to the director of Praxis International Art, Buenos Aires, which has represented the artist since 1997. Skidmore notes buyers in Canada, England and the U.S., as well as Argentina.
All three gallery shows have been sellouts, reports Trinidad Fombella, director of Praxis’ branch gallery in Manhattan. Additionally, Praxis has exhibited the artist’s work at several art fairs, including last October’s Art London, where gallery directors report having sold all six of the paintings shown to British collectors; the Toronto International Art Fair, also in October, where two La Rosa paintings were sold; and PINTA, the contemporary Latin American art fair, in New York City last November, where two of the artist’s works found buyers.
La Rosa’s highly realistic paintings, mostly still lifes, have a broad following—owing largely to his technical skills and identification with art history rather than with a particular place, which might limit his appeal. “His work doesn’t reference just one place,” says Fombella.
Current prices for La Rosa’s works vary with size—$9,500 for smaller oils (20-by-28 inches), $15,000 for larger paintings (30-by-40 inches) and $25,000 for the largest ones (40-by-50-inches)— and prices have increased annually. A waiting list for new paintings has emerged in the past year, something that reflects the growing interest in La Rosa’s work and the fact that he paints slowly, completing “not more than 12 pieces a year,” Skidmore says.
Because of the difficulty in obtaining enough paintings for a one-person show, gallery shows are few and far between. The next La Rosa show at the Buenos Aires gallery is scheduled for late 2008 “or 2009,” says Skidmore, “depending on when he can complete enough works.” She reports that a secondary market has emerged for La Rosa, though most of those works have been sold at auction rather than brought back to the gallery for resale.
Of the half-dozen La Rosa paintings that have been offered at auction, the top public-sale price is $54,000 for the 41-by-49-inch Suite Blanca, 2002, more than 21⁄2 times the $20,000 high estimate accorded by Sotheby’s in 2006.