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Salamanca may be a small city, but it has plenty to offer contemporary art enthusiasts. From grand galleries housed in awe-inspiring buildings to independent, off-the-beaten-track exhibition spaces, here are ten of the best venues in which to explore the work of prestigious Spanish and international artists.
The Sala de Exposiciones La Salina is another fantastic backdrop. A 16th century Renaissance palace supposedly built to house the mistress of the famous Archbishop Fonseca (although this legend has since been thrown into doubt), it is the perfect place to take photos as well as visit the thriving government-run gallery to which it plays host. This small gallery places an emphasis on promoting the work of Spanish artists and welcomes a real variety of genres and media. Moreover, it sometimes incorporates more traditional work alongside contemporary pieces, making for a satisfyingly diverse visit.
La Salina, Calle Felipe Espino 8, Salamanca, Spain, +34 923 29 31 00 (Ext. 617)
Inaugurated in 1952, this central gallery was the city’s first venue devoted exclusively to modern art. Galería Artis remains open to all kinds of creation, with a long list of locally and nationally renowned painters, collagists, sculptors and more contributing regularly to its exhibitions. With its well-established reputation and convenient location, this is a perfect place to go for those who want to become acquainted with some of Spain’s latest artistic successes.
Galería Artis, Calle de Zamora 44, Salamanca, Spain, +34 923 21 50 49
In contrast to Artis, the Benito Esteban Gallery is one of Salamanca’s newest exhibition spaces, but it has quickly developed a name for itself as a reliable location to discover regional talent. Since its inauguration in 2003, its bi-monthly exhibitions have featured work by 16 different artists, with painting, drawing, photography and sculpture all well represented. The aim is to give exposure to those from Castilla y León who are just embarking on their careers, so visitors should come here if they want the new, the promising and the unique.
Galería Benito Esteban, Calle Santa Clara 5, Salamanca, Spain, +34 923 21 06 81
Originally housed in Madrid, this popular small gallery moved to Salamanca in 2004. Having forsaken its previous premises in the touristy Calle San Pablo due to its founder’s wish to engage more with the city’s permanent residents, Galería Adora Calvo can now be found in the central but quiet Calle Arco, where visitors can enjoy exploring the bi-monthly and tri-monthly exhibitions. The gallery’s program has demonstrated a careful balance between individual showcases and interesting combinations of different artists’ work. Adora Calvo is known to play a significant role in rewarding and encouraging talent, being the only gallery in the region to have taken part in the ARCO Fair (one of Europe’s most prestigious contemporary art events, held in Madrid) for the past few years.
Galería Adora Calvo, Calle Arco 11, Salamanca, Spain, +34 923 21 27 84
Moving outside of the city center, DA2 is undoubtedly a key venue for contemporary art fans in Salamanca as a whole. Built in a former prison to celebrate the city’s year as the 2002 European Capital of Culture, its focus is on individuals’ work, with regular showcases by the very best young artists from Spain and beyond. Notable past contributors have included Mona Hatoum, Sam Taylor-Wood, Franz Ackermann and Chris Cunningham. The center is also involved in promoting work from the Castilla y León region and collaborates on various projects to that end. Perhaps the highlight of its work, however, is the once- or twice-yearly collective exhibition centered around a theme. Choices of theme have been diverse, ranging from Niños (‘Children’) in 2003, to Laocoonte Devorado: Arte y violencia política (‘Laocoön Devoured: Art and Political Violence’) in 2006 to 2014’s Uno de cada (‘One of each’), which explored the diverse mediums that interest today’s artists by displaying works made in everything from iron to ceramics to watercolor.
DA2, Avda. de la Aldehuela s/n, Salamanca, Spain, +34 923 18 49 16
Another small gallery well-liked by the city’s art-lovers, Galería Annia concentrates exclusively on representational works (that is, works that portray people or objects in an immediately recognizable manner). It holds both permanent and temporary exhibitions, which feature a pleasing mixture of paintings, sculptures and engravings, predominantly by respected Spanish artists. The gallery is also ideally placed for those wanting to go on to try the top-quality tapas in the nearby Calle van Dyck, one of Salamanca’s most popular locations.
Galería Annia, Calle Pollo Martín 22, Salamanca, Spain, +34 923 12 37 05
This well-established, reputable gallery, just a short walk to the north of the city center, houses a real variety of works by Spanish and international artists. In the recent past it has attracted some very prestigious paintings indeed, by figures as renowned as Pablo Picasso, Antonio Saura and León Battista Alberti. Its temporary exhibitions change every month, so if you are going to be in Salamanca for a while, it will stand up well to repeat visits.