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.
Established in 2009, year on year Eat Meat Raw has distinguished itself from the glut of independent, contemporary art galleries in Barcelona’s Gracia district by prioritising space for both local and international artists who explore hybrids of form, representation and a propulsion towards the grotesque.
With their exhibition and contributor archive filed under either ‘freak shows’ or ‘resident evil’, the six-strong team at Eat Meat have a sense of humour, albeit rather macabre. The critically acclaimed ‘Miroir Noir’ crystallises the ethos of the gallery and those with whom they engage. ‘Miroir Noir’ is an on-going visual project, initiated in 2007 between Bratislavan Milos Koptak and Barcelona-born Rai Escale. Together, they seek to explore the most obscure traditions of their mutual cultures and to collide the two in ways that are intentionally unsettling. Other artists who have passed through Eat Meat include Fritz Gnad, Kinki Texas and Nico Nubiola.
Since opening its doors over a decade ago, Espai [b] continues to promote contemporary art in its various expressions, giving priority to a productive mix of well-established artists and fresh talent. The objets d’arts on display are as diverse as their exhibitors, with a heterogeneous spread of paintings, screen prints, digital images, sculpture, installation, photography as well as works created through cutting edge technological methods.
This summer, the gallery once again presents its traditional group exhibition featuring art work from the likes of Anna Dart, Lali Pantone, Susanne Wehmer and Feli Manero. As with all the gallery’s temporary exhibitions, the summer show is time-limited and exclusive, but all visitors can also access the year-round collection of a handful of artists Espai [b] permanently represents.
What’s in a name? This non-profit foundation was established to put Josep Suñol’s contemporary art collection on display to the public, with the simultaneous aim of encouraging the creation and diffusion of avant-garde art. Regular visitors can expect to see familiar pieces anew, with the curators aiming to show their entire collection on-going but presented in an ever-changing series of formats including chronological arrangements and more challenging collisions.
Meanwhile, the Nivell Zero occupies a distinct physical and temporal space and is designed to house and encourage all forms of practical and theoretical art modes. The foundation aims to further these aims by both actively preserving traditional Catalan art, as well as financially and creatively supporting local artists. With normal entry priced at 4 Euros, and concessions at 2, Fundació Suñol at once offers a taste of contemporary art to new-comers and more adventurous offerings for the seasoned visitor. Currently showcasing Susana Solona’s New Flight until September this year.
Gallery Andreu Marcs is not for the faint-hearted. Located on Carrer Asturias, close to the Fontana Metro exit, you will need a clear head and lively eyes for this art spot. Expect a visual assault, as the director of this gallery jostles miniatures amongst large-scale charcoal nudes. The website is easier to navigate, and displays an exciting range from Romantic-inspired still life, to formal pencil drawings and tumultuous oil seascapes.
Rarely cited on the tourist map for its less universal appeal, Andreu Marcs is worth a visit if you want to feel part of the creative process. The gallery space is what would probably be called ‘ordered muddle’, and perhaps highlights how productive, or otherwise, curation of contemporary art can be. Andreu Marcs i Art, Carrer d’Astúries, 7, 08012 Barcelona, Spain, +34 932 17 67 41
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.
A multi-disciplinary venue for the arts, Paspartú aims to create equality across languages, cultures and nations in their representations and art displays. Not hard to miss, with a bright red doorway, the gallery staff are equally knowledgeable and friendly.
If you are taken with this place, it is seriously worth considering engaging with their ‘Creative Arts’ projects. Champions of the artist in everyone, the Paspartu group offer everything from staycations in rural residences in the Alt Penedés province of Barcelona city, to activity packed weekends entitled ‘Street Art’. For the real enthusiasts, the fortnight long ‘From the Singularity to Globality’ starts in the gallery space in Barcelona then moves onwards in an at once instructive and personally creative journey. Such interaction is the best way to experience Paspartu’s goals, as they quite literally are so much more than a gallery. Day visitors can, however, explore photographs from Laia Tublo to paintings from Silvia Rodriguez.
Situated close to the Diagonal and Passeig de Gracia, Galeria Hartmann offers a space for emerging artists and more recognisable names. The top choice for those with a preference for photography, Hartmann makes this their speciality. The gallery’s three leading rooms are plain light-flooded boxes, offering a neutral backdrop for the prints on the walls and the sculptures they feature on rotation. These rooms house the current collections which change several times a year, but whose details are all available on their website archive.
A quick scan of this reveals that Albert Watson’s photographs that at one time graced the covers of Vogue, Time and Newsweek found space in this gallery, plastering the walls with shots of chimpanzees, the Rolling Stones and Kate Moss. By contrast, their 2012 exhibition titled Landscapes in Motion by Dutch painter Ben Geerts explored interpretations of urban landscapes, with monochrome lines and primary colours reminiscent of the hypothetical offspring of Miro and Mondrian.
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.