Informal talks with art dealers have led me to believe that great effort has been made to draw the attention of international collectors interested in high-quality and low-cost production, such as that of Brazil. However, the trend is to contact institutions - museums and international galleries - in an attempt to disseminate Brazilian art in a solid circuit, which can guarantee more visibility. It is not surprising that the economic indicators in this field are vague and ambiguos. The fact is that up to this moment the Brazilian art market is partially informal. The relationship between artists and dealers is based on informal agreements, relationships subject to tensions and drastic ruptures. According to this general rule, it is the artist who bears the greatest risk, having no choice but to pay for all expenses of production, and receiving fifty percent of the sale price. As to the value of the works, the exact numbers are never declared nor estimated at low rates. Invoices are not issued, and buyers, particularly Brazilian ones, are now likely to have serious fiscal problems. However, the trend is towards the legalization of the circuit, especially because the international market demands it; it is inevitable given the growing interest in Brazilian art. Other problematic effects of the expansion of an art market which still resents the informality, or as Hélio Oiticica puts it: ‘From adversity we live’.
There is no doubt that the expansion of the Brazilian art market has brought important contributions to maturity in this field. Nevertheless, there are also other problematic issues, which are products of these abnormalities. One noteworthy aspect is the role of art criticism today. In Brazil, from the mid-fifties to the late eighties, experimental artworks were aimed primarily at art criticism. In the absence of a market, and even in the beginning of it in the early seventies, when art based itself upon established values, the art critic acted as an interlocutor for the artist.
Even thought this sort of dialogue still remains, one must recognise that it has diminished considerably from the nineties onward. That is why the presence of a more and more influential market is vital. Instead of taking part in internal discussions, in some cases having the critic as an interlocutor, the artists, especially the younger ones, yield much more easily to the demands of the market, orienting themselves according to it. Even art students are more concerned about the direction of the mainstream. Faced with this seductive Sphinx - recognition and fame - which the market places in the way of the artist, what is the use of critics? Except, maybe, if they are laudatory. In the eighties, those critics who are situated closely to artists, in Brazil as in the case of the United States, have conformed by writing catalogues for galleries and books, usually monographic ones, which makes them much more adherent than critical of the artist in question.