The Best Art Galleries In Barcelona's Vibrant Gracia District

Gracia District, Barcelona
Gracia District, Barcelona | ©OK Apartment
Anastasia Bow-Bertrand

Barcelona’s iconic artist Antoni Gaudi often steals the limelight, but the city’s trendy Gracia barrio boasts a wealth of contemporary art, from local artists to international names. The entire neighbourhood has a bohemian vibe. Whether you want to visit a space filled with photographic reels, broken clockwork toys or bronze sculptures, this district boasts some of the most avant-garde galleries and artists alike.

1. Galeria Miquel Alzueta

Art Gallery

Galeria Miquel Alzueta’s very exhibition space is something of a performance. Entry is via a spiral-adorned pair of wrought iron gates through which one glimpses the terracotta hacienda in which the gallery is housed. The best way to describe this space is to imagine a room installation at a department store. Now strip this back to the bare minimum; for instance a bed and a wall light in the bedroom department; a desk and a chair in the study section.
For this is what elevates the installations at Miquel Alzueta from purchasable furniture to contemporary art. Each piece is meticulously chosen to interact with those around it. For instance, in one show an iconic round drum style chair covered in tawny chamois with a white wicker back is drawn alongside a low plastic table on which four carefully selected books wait for you to touch. A studded pink and red canvas by another artist hangs in the corner. Tactility and seeming domestication are what characterise the art and curation of this gallery, so visit with an open mind and leave with a greater appreciation of how the everyday can be seen as art as you realise the compositions at the gallery bring together Antonio Gonzalez with Le Corbusier, and your own face with the photographs of Anuca Aisa.

Peeping Monster

Not strictly an art gallery, but surely the next best thing: a contemporary artist living and working in his native Barcelona. Ruben Verdu is an artist, researcher and writer of contemporary art as well as founder of Peeping Monster. When explaining the name he defines it as an ‘outrageous oxymoron’, and this disconcerting togetherness pervades his entire portfolio.
Rubens continues: ‘all monsters are a derivation from the Latin monstrare which means to show, to present something to others and receive their attention, their looks. This passivity, however, is very much in contrast with the insistence of a deliberate peeping activity from the one that always gets shown. To peep is to look while trying not to be caught in the act of looking. This contradiction is for some, simply, a way of being.’ His website is worth exploring like a virtual gallery, with the sidebar listing the many different oeuvres to which he gives web space. Among his most iconic work, ‘Hairy Shirt’ (at face value at green top with white wiry fluff attached to each armpit) and ‘Louis Vuitton’ trash bag are worth noticing. While not comparable to the physical experience of art, Rubens is very approachable and is easily contactable.

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