Contemporary art is not dead. Or would it be trendier to declare it dead, hold our breath for a moment and then triumphantly declare a resurrection? A few names would be heralded as the torch-bearing luminaries of a new era. Social media-friendly headlines would fizzle like those Blooming Flower ground spinner fireworks, and blog posts would grapple with the tail or back leg of the particular elephant.
However, this weekend Barcelona offers a much more magnificent and dare I say authentic experience. Two carefully curated events coincide, each with their own framework and sharing a common vision of opening Barcelona’s art spaces to residents and visitors whilst supporting a diverse community of national and international artists.
The program is nothing short of impressive: 73 galleries are represented from 23 different countries during Barcelona’s eagerly awaited annual claim as the epicentre of the contemporary art scene, from the 29th September – 2nd October at the Italian Pavillion of the Fira Barcelona, next to the Magic Fountains of Montjuïc. Five new programs will be presented, bringing the total to nine. These include Focus Magreb with emerging talent from Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria; Cross-Boundaries: Moving Images from China showcasing the works of emerging Chinese film makers; and In/Out, a collaboration with Barcelona based galleries which explores what it means to be inside or outside.
Innovative proposals abound. Swab on Paper explores the artistic transformation of the use of paper through the works of 6 artists. So Close So Far is a project curated by Alvaro Gurrea which uses photography to reflect human relationships in our contemporary era of globalization and digital technologies.
There is also a space where children can take part in their own experiments through interactive workshops. Other aspects of the art world are represented with a program of talks for curators, gallerists and artists, and the latest trends in art book publications.
If the first edition was about testing the ground and establishing a collaborative identity this second coming digs its roots deeper from the 29th September – 2nd October. Barcelona becomes a hub for collectors, artists, art lovers and professionals involved in the art sector, with exhibitions and special events taking place in 23 participating galleries.
“The project’s goal is to introduce Barcelona’s many high quality contemporary artists and spaces to an international audience,” explained art director Joan Anton Maragall. His colleague Gloria Pou goes on to share that Barcelona’s galleries are not the exclusive spaces many people assume them to be. Most of them offer free exhibitions open to the public all year round, and people would be surprised to discover that many of the art works are priced within their reach.
New exhibition Bewilderment by Samuel Salcedo (Barcelona , 1975) at the 3 Punts Gallery opens on the 29th with large facial sculptures contorted into expressions of profound emotion. Galeria Balaguer present a multidisciplinary collection by Victor Jaenada (Barcelona, 1977) in their new space in the Eixample.
The Great Invisible Battle at the eclectic Blueproject Foundation introduces a large installation that questions the truth of war imagery by Abdelkader Benchamma (France, 1975). Ground Zero unedited installations by Pieter Vermeersch (Belgium, 1973) also reflect on the architecture of war.
Explore the galleries
Gallery routes are the cultural pub crawls of the eternally curious, and Barcelona Gallery Weekend has created 5 guided itineraries for exploring the 5 main gallery districts:
1- Eixample North Route
ADN Galeria, Galeria Estrany – de la Mota, Galeria Marc Domènech, Galeria Marlborough, Galeria Miquel Alzueta (The Laboratory), ProjecteSD, Víctor Lope Arte Contemporáneo
Sunday October 2nd, 16:00 – 19:00 approx.
2-Eixample South Route
3 Punts Galeria, A|34, Club Billar Barcelona (Barcelona Billiards Club), Galeria Barbié, Galeria Joan Prats, Galeria Toni Tàpies, Mayoral, RocioSantaCruz, Sala Dalmau
Sunday October 2nd, 11:00 – 15:00 approx.
3- Born Route
Biblioteca Pública Arús (Arús Public Library), Blueproject Foundation, Galeria Balaguer, Galeria Senda, Mounted Unit of the Barcelona City Police.
Saturday October 1st, 10:30 – 13:30 approx.
Routes are free, although prior registration is required: firstname.lastname@example.org.
We’ve already signed up for the Eixample Sud and Eixample Nord walks and will be reporting back for you next week!