Montevideo is one of the most important cultural hubs of South America. For centuries now, the city has been welcoming immigrants from all over the world, each with their own cultural heritage. The intensity of this cultural exchange is evident it Montevideo’s thriving art scene. We explore ten of the most interesting contemporary art galleries and museums in the Uruguayan capital.
Acatras is a gallery like no other, not only for its focus on ceramic arts but also for the enveloping experience it offers to its visitors. Since it first opened in 2004, its owners have created the most important space for plastic arts and ceramics in Uruguay. The gallery is literally atras (behind) Mercado do Puerto, the area that has become the most artistically relevant of the city over the past decade. With its permanent exhibition of 30 of the most talented Uruguayan artists, Acatras del Mercado is a mandatory stop for ceramic art enthusiasts visiting Montevideo.
After opening galleries in Paris, Switzerland and Greece, Renos Xippas inaugurated his latest gallery in Montevideo in 2010 and so became a worldwide institution for contemporary arts. Xippas intends to study the local art scene and utilize his network of international contacts to exhibit foreign artists in Montevideo and to present and promote Uruguayan talent all over the world. Xippas Gallery not only exhibits all the diverse forms of artistic expression from painting to sculpture, photography and installations, but also promotes its artists through publications, illustrated catalogues and high-profile events, marking a turning point for the Montevideo art scene.
With a roster of more that 40 Uruguayan artists, Diana Saravia Galeria de Arte is one of the most prominent contemporary art galleries in the country. Diana Saravia was born in Cerro de la Cuenta, a village of 300 inhabitants, but her love for art brought her to study at the School of Fine Arts in Montevideo and then to fulfil her lifelong dream of opening her own art gallery in 1999. As owner and director of the gallery, Diana Saravia has worked hard to create a space for contemporary Uruguayan artists to promote their work. Her hard work certainly paid off, as the gallery is one of the highlights of and a reference point for the contemporary Uruguayan art scene.
Espacio de Arte Contemporaneo is a recently established Uruguayan institution interested in the promotion of local and international art. Since its inauguration in 2010, Espacio de Arte Contemporaneo has proven its relevance on the South American art scene thanks to various high-profile exhibitions, among them a show by renowned Spanish artist Daniel Canogar. Canogar is known for his inventive use of discarded materials and visually striking installations. The four installations of Cuadratura, exhibited at the Espacio de Arte Contemporaneo, focused on the use of obsolete audiovisual media to create canvases onto which new images were projected. Found in the renovated space of the Miguelete Jail, EAC offers one of the most varied and dynamic calendars of contemporary art exhibitions in Uruguay.
The Centro de Exposiciones Subte is a cultural center dedicated to the production and promotion of art. With its three rooms, the XL, the M, and the XS, named according to their size, this cultural center exhibits the best of national and international art and receives over 60,000 visitors each year. The rigorous selection process ensures equal and democratic opportunities for the artists who wish to exhibit their work, as well as a high standard that makes Centro de Exposiciones Subte one of the most respected artistic hubs in Montevideo. Recent exhibitions include a show by Dalila Gonçalves, an artist who, through the use of perishable products and other materials, explores time as a medium of artistic expression.
The Centro de Fotografia is Uruguay’s main institution for the photographic arts. The center’s activities focus on the preservation Uruguay’s photographic heritage and the promotion of emerging talents. The archive boasts an impressive number of photographs, among which the oldest date back to 1860. Each year, the center offers an intense programme of exhibitions ranging from El Padre de Gardel, a photographic analysis of the research conducted by renowned filmmaker Ricardo Casas for his latest documentary, to Paisaje Uruguay: 5 Cuencas which focuses on the cultural heritage of rural Uruguay. Both the incredible archive and the excellent exhibitions are great reasons to visit the CDF.
After years of activity in Montevideo’s historical neighborhood, Galeria del Paseo relocated to its beautiful new home in 2004. Now found in the lively Manantiales in Punta del Este, Galeria del Paseo represents some of the most talented artists of the landscape of contemporary Uruguayan art. This stunning gallery organises innovative vernissages and exhibitions in Montevideo, often attracting eclectic crowds of young people and established collectors.
MVD was founded from the desire to give an exhibition space to emerging Uruguayan artists. Located near the iconic Mercado do Puerto in the Ciudad Vieja of Montevideo, this gallery showcases paintings and sculptures by dozens of Uruguayan and Latin American artists. The bond of trust and commitment that MVD creates with the artists it represents is one of its strong suits and a guarantee of the quality of the displayed artworks.
SOA –Simplemente Obras de Arte (‘simply works of art’) – is an art gallery with a unique concept – that of creating a relaxing place to encourage and foster a dialogue between artists and their public. This gallery, found in calle Consituyente, one of the main streets for design and art, is known for its exciting program of exhibitions and conferences with established Uruguayan artists. After admiring one of the many exhibitions, visitors can stop for a drink or a bite to eat at SOA’s Art Cafè, where delicious gastronomy meets art.
The Bohemian Gallery and Museum of Contemporary Arts (BG-MOCA) is one of the most recent additions to Montevideo’s booming art scene. The museum’s primary objective is that of bringing top tier exhibitions to the Uruguayan capital as a way of fostering the dialogue between foreign and local cultures. BG-MOCA’s museum always has a busy exhibition schedule; some of the recent shows include The Flow Exhibition by visual artist Marcos Fripp, and Dangerous Minds, a fascinating and unsettling group show. Thanks to the brilliant work of Virginia Robinson, the gallery’s director, BG-MOCA quickly became the art space to watch in Montevideo.