The news may have crept up on us, but now it’s out that Lisbon is an excellent destination for artists and contemporary art enthusiasts. The city has long been home to some fantastic public museums, and now, galleries are also popping up across the city and the facades of once-neglected buildings are being converted into massive canvases with a dose of street art. To bring you more information about this blooming art scene, we talked to Oh So Arty, an international contemporary art company that schedules tours through Lisbon’s enchanting streets.
Headquartered in Tel Aviv, Oh So Arty is a community of guides located in cities around the globe. Founder Sarah Peguine says, “We always try to find the best contemporary art that is being offered at that moment in a specific city. This is achieved through a combination of the guide’s expertise and knowledge, as well as taking into account the preferences of the client.” Oh So Arty offers questionnaires for clients to fill out, in order to learn about their preferences and make sure that each tour is relevant and unique.
Curator Katarzyna (Kasia) Sobczak-Wróblewska is responsible for spotlighting Lisbon’s art scene. She encourages interactions between Portuguese artists and the international art community, and highlights the best of Lisbon’s artistic mix. We asked her what she likes most about Lisbon’s art scene, and got ourselves some expert recommendations as to the best places for art lovers to visit in the Portuguese capital.
“Lisbon’s art scene is fresh and constantly developing,” she says. “The city is full of new influences and projects, even each month. Lisbon is changing and more foreigners are coming to live and work here, including artists, curators, and art professionals. In the last year, [there were] a few French projects and a new Italian gallery. I like the dynamics and the vibrant atmosphere. On the other hand, it’s still one of the smallest European capitals, so after some time of attending the openings, you already feel like home. It’s easy to meet new people and start working together.”
So, where does an expert like Kasia like to go to get her fix of art? Here are some of her favorite Lisbon haunts.
Located in Lisbon’s bohemian neighborhood Bairro Alto, Galeria Graça Brandão organizes exhibitions that highlight work from various artists at a time. Last month, Kasia led a tour to this spot first, as Galeria Graça Brandão “offers a wide perspective of Portuguese art,” making it an excellent jumping-off point. Founded in 2006, Galeria Graça Brandão showcases the best of Portuguese contemporary art created by artists in Portugal and other Portuguese-speaking countries.
Rua dos Caetanos, 26 A, 1200-079 Lisboa, +351 21 346 9183
Last month’s tour also visited the studio of painter Manuel Tainha, which Kasia describes as “the perfect Oh So Arty tour stop.” Kasia says, “His practice is original and Manuel, as a person, is very friendly, open-minded, and funny.” Manuel Tainha’s style stands out because of the incorporation of a unique blend of chemicals, like bleach with fabric. Anyone interested in seeing his work can visit the Mazagran exhibition at the Galeria Belo-Galstere until March 29.
Galeria Belo-Galsterer: R. Castilho 71, 1250-068 Lisboa, +351 21 381 5914
Another location on Kasia’s extensive must-see list is Hangar, located a few blocks from Martim Moniz in the neighborhood of Graça. When asked which other galleries and studios she prefers visiting on tour, she told us, “Lisbon’s art scene is composed of at least 30 private galleries, artists’ run projects, and over a dozen institutions, public museums, and foundations, so there is plenty to choose from.” Hangar is one of those choices. Not just a gallery, Hangar is an “Artistic Research Center,” which aims to foster research, creation, and artistic dialogue through workshops, seminars, and exhibits.