At the junction of two oceans and two continents, Panama City is one of the most diverse cities in Central America. A hybrid of Afro-Caribbean, European and Latin American cultures, the metropolis is home to a dynamic fusion of indigenous and modern influences. In April 2013, Panama City hosted the first-ever Art Bienniale of the South with the aim of promoting new trends in visual arts across the Central American region. Here we profile the best contemporary galleries in the bustling capital.
With more than 30 years of experience, Galería Arteconsult is a permanent showroom for high-calibre contemporary Panamanian and Latin American art. From abstract to figurative artwork, this spacious, sophisticated gallery displays an extraordinary assortment of acrylic and oil paintings, photography, sculptures and graphic art. To date, the gallery has hosted and represented artists such as the thought-provoking painter Ukrainian Andriy Halashyn, the fascinating sculptor Aurora Canero, and the well-known Panama-born photographer Sandra Eleta, among others.
Situated in the exclusive suburb of Coco del Mar, the Mateo Sariel Gallery is dedicated to the promotion and dissemination of vibrant and original contemporary art from all over Latin America. A key contributor to the development of art in Panama and the region, the gallery has presented 84 solo and group exhibitions of some of the most influential national and Latin American illustrious and rising artists and continues to introduce new artists to its public. Towards the end of 2013, the gallery held so easy/so hard, a solo exhibition by local artist Cisco Merel, which showcased a number of Merel’s vibrant kaleidoscopic paintings.
Marion Gallery is a cultural space promoting new forms of contemporary art by renowned international artists. With three airy showrooms, the gallery accommodates up to three separate exhibitions at a time. Marión’s most distinguishing feature is its permanent exhibition dedicated to Venezuelan artist Carlos Cruz-Diez, one of the most prominent figures in optical kinetic art, with works in museums across the globe. Cruz-Diez’s plastic compositions, in particular, are mind-boggling for the way they play with colours to trick the eye. Through its activities and exhibitions, Marión Gallery seeks to create a direct and simple link between the artwork and its viewers, opening art to all audiences, and driving new experiences and dialogue through art.
Founded in 1991, Allegro Galería started out by hosting a number of group exhibitions featuring well-known artists from Panama’s art scene such as Brooke Alfaro, Isabel De Obaldía and Olga Sinclair. In 2000, the gallery held an exhibition to celebrate the beginning of the 21st century – Huellas, meaning ‘footprints’ displayed the work of 20 of the best female artists living in Panama. More recently, in October 2013, the gallery hosted new artwork by the emerging artist Kansuet whose paintings portray striking interpretations of the balance between humanity, spirituality and the environment, and often depict his daughter. Over the years, the gallery has developed a notable reputation in Panama City as it continues to support and promote the work of local and international artists, exposing the latest trends in the contemporary visual arts.