Caracas is a city in constant motion and evolution, a city full of contradictions. It’s in this environment that Venezuelan artists explore the many facets of contemporary life in Latin America, Venezuela and Caracas itself. We profile ten of the most prominent and daring art galleries of the Venezuelan capital.
When D’Museo first opened in 1990, the artistic life of Caracas was in full bloom; Caracas’ major contemporary art museums had achieved international recognition and private galleries were showcasing the best of Latin American art. Nonetheless, D’Museo was able the draw the attention of the art world by opening with a collective exhibition of 15 of the greatest Venezuelan artists including Arturo Michelena, Emilio Boggio and Manuel Vicente Mujica. Since then, D’Museo has been promoting young and contemporary Venezuelan talents while keeping a strong bond with the great artists of the late 19th century and early 20th century. D’Museo recently showcased the astonishing clay totems of Noemi Márquez, garnering praise from the art press, critics and collectors alike. Having changed location twice since it first opened, D’Museo can now be found within the Centro de Arte Los Galpones, the most vibrant artistic hub of the city.
It’s almost impossible to stumble upon this gallery just by walking the crowded streets of Las Mercedes. Estudio Arte 8, tucked away on the second floor of the Edificio Elkano, is a real hidden gem for those who enjoy contemporary art. Within just a few years of activity and thanks to the experience of its curators, Estudio Arte 8 has exported Venezuelan and Southern American talent all over the world, and taken part in exhibitions in London, New York, Miami and the Dominican Republic. From the recombined photography of Dalia Ferreira, to the constructivist paintings of Ricardo Goldman, or the sinuous shapes of Marcelo Wong’s sculptures, this gallery offers excellent examples of the artistic landscape of contemporary Venezuela. With other activities ranging from consulting for art collectors, lectures and educational projects related to plastic arts, Estudio Arte 8 is a true oasis of peace within the chaos of Las Mercedes.
In the traditional landscape of Venezuela’s art galleries Oficina #1 stands out for its uniqueness and innovation. Founded in 2005 by Suwon Lee and Luis Romero, Oficina #1 is the first exhibition space in Caracas managed entirely by a collective of artists. The gallery has hosted over 60 exhibitions and given many young artists the possibility to showcase their work for the very fist time. Innovation is at the core Oficina #1’s philosophy, as is research on new forms of artistic expression, with a particular emphasis on those forms of art that are in the process of emerging in Venezuela. Oficina #1 promotes art not only through its exhibitions but also through the printing of informational material as a way reaching out to the wider public. It is no coincidence that Oficina #1 occupies a space in the Centro de Arte Galpones, the place to be for any form of art in Caracas.
Odalys is a foundation whose primary objective is the promotion and diffusion of Latin American art all over the world. Thanks to its research, Odalys was able to recover the works of Milos Jonic and Federico Lessmann, two of Venezuela’s most important and influential photographers of the 19th century. The foundation also encourages and sustains young artists through sponsorship and scholarship programs, while the gallery itself serves mainly as an exhibition space for the art that is auctioned every month by the Casa de Subastas Odalys. Through a partnership with the Association of Artists of Venezuela (AVAP), Odalys has created a support network for local artists and their families offering various types of health policies and insurance plans. With the charitable work of the foundation and the promotional activities of its galleries in Madrid and Caracas, Odalys is undoubtedly one of the most relevant names on the Venezuelan and Latin American art scene.
With nearly 2,000 square meters of exhibition space, Periferico Caracas is one of the most renowned names in the city. This gallery opened its doors in 2005 and since then has hosted over 50 individual and group exhibitions, as well as a number of events, lectures and forums encouraging an ongoing dialogue between contemporary artists and their growing public. The success of Hector Fuenmayor’s acclaimed exhibition Buddy Tree (2007) only strengthened this resolve. To the owners of the gallery, [being] periferico (peripheral) highlights the positive aspects of art forms that thrive outside of the boundaries posed by the conventional definition of art. Periferico Caracas is a space outside the norm, a space open to all the possibilities of evolving situations and contexts.
In Spanish, galpone stands for ‘shed’; this cultural center on the outskirts of the city is in fact a cluster of nearly 20 different sheds entirely dedicated to artistic expression in all its forms. Painting and installations, music, cinematography, literature and even gastronomy all find their own space inside the galpones: from the previously mentioned art galleries Periferico Caracas, D’Museo and Oficina #1 to various bookshops, cafes and even an open-air cinema. Since its opening, Centro de Arte Los Galpones has become Caracas’ go-to-place for art experts and rookies alike, as it offers a setting where art can thrive and inspire its visitors with its ubiquitous presence.
Located in Las Mercedes, Caracas’ largest commercial district, Artepuy is one of the most edgy and innovative galleries in Venezuela. In just a decade, this gallery has established a name for itself on the contemporary art scene, becoming an exceptional place for up-and-coming Venezuelan artists to showcase their work. The gallery’s mission is to promote artists who have been steadily building a coherent narrative and who constantly strive to find new and interesting ways to express their vision of the world. From the body paint art of Cecilia Paredes to the toylike sculptures of Reymond Romero or the hybrid wooden sculptures of Rodrigo Echeverri Calero, Artepuy’s exhibitions surpass the boundaries of the contemporary and show us a glimpse of the future.
In its 46 years of activity, Galerìa Acquavella has become one of the most renowned art galleries in Venezuela. It specializes in Latin American art and exhibits the works of some of the biggest names in modern and contemporary art as well as those of many emerging talents. Over the years, Acquavella has managed to establish a worldwide network of contacts with other art galleries, museums and private dealers, thus guaranteeing top quality for buyers interested in Latin American and international art. As its wide and carefully curated selection ranges from Diego Rivera all the way to Helidon Xhixha, Galerìa Acquavella is undoubtedly a pleasant surprise for even the most exacting of visitors.
Okyo was created in 1990 to give a space to the then-emerging trend of Venezuelan plastic arts. Over the years, the gallery has collaborated with young and established artists, only to become one of the leading voices in the field of Venezuelan contemporary art. While committed to the promotion of local artists, Okyo also welcomes international talents, as a result of the belief that this dialogue will strengthen and enrich Venezuelan art as a whole. One of the themes eagerly explored by Okyo are shape and materiality, investigated in all their complexity by thought-provoking installations; among the most fascinating are the works of Camilo Sanìn, Ania Borzobohaty and Annella Armas.
GBG allows art to speak for itself. One of its most recent exhibitions, Interludio, featured the works of 21 of the best contemporary Latin American artists. Vicente Antonorsi, Ricardo Benaim and Isabel Cisneros are only a few of the artists that took part in the collective show, a highlight on the Venezuelan capital’s cultural calendar. As if organizing one of the main events of the season wasn’t enough, in 2013, the gallery hosted ÉTICA-ESTÉTICA-POLÍTICA, curated by María Elena Ramos, with works by Deborah Castillo; La doctrina de Vinght by Jorge Pizzani, and a visual anthology on the work and life of Venezuelan poet Juan Sanchez Pelaez conceived by Rosario Lezama. Withonstantly solid and well-curated shows, GBG is one of the most exciting and unique galleries on the art scene of Caracas.