5 Galleries Shaping Barcelona’s New Contemporary Identity
See how these galleries encourage emerging artists to explore and share their work with the city—and the world.
Barcelona is a passionate city. From conversations delving into political turmoil, gastronomic controversy, or artistic overindulgence, discussions are never dull. In the Catalan capital, the same applies to the landscape of contemporary art. Its heritage is built on the innovation of artists like Joan Miró and Pablo Picasso, but the heydays of surrealism are gone. Still, the city remains a focal point of artistic development, due mostly to the fact that it has maintained its allure to young and enthusiastic creators. From multimedia collage to conceptual painting, sculpture and beyond, these five spaces are developing Barcelona’s new contemporary art identity.
Businessman Josep Suñol’s collection of contemporary art is one of Passeig de Gràcia’s finest retreats. Duck down one of the city’s busiest streets and climb a set of white stairs into a paradise of minimalist design and modern art. Aside from the collection, amassed since the late ‘60s, the gallery’s distinctness lies in its format—collections are organized to create a coherent journey. Since opening in 2007, Fundació Suñol has been rotating around 100 works every six months. After exploring the upper floors, which are likely to display works from Spanish heroes like Antoni Tàpies and Miquel Barcelo, head to Nivell Zero. This space provides showing opportunities for emerging multimedia artists and installation specialists.
On now: ACTE 40 Sinead Spelman’s “Descanso en la huida", exploring the relationship between drawing and writing.
After opening in 2007, Àngels established a reputation for showing critical multimedia art. Building on over a decade of displays at Galeria Dels Àngels, director Emilio Alvarez continues to operate a space determined to ask difficult questions. From work that centers on the debate of contemporary culture or the idea of art that questions its own value as a product, don’t expect easily digestible pieces when you visit this space. Artists like Harun Farocki and Mabel Palacin have helped shape the reputation of Àngels. When you find the gallery—tucked away just around the corner from MACBA (the Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art)—be sure to venture downstairs, where one of the coziest home cinemas awaits you.
On now: Harun Farocki & Antje Ehmann “Men in trouble”, which the artists have described as a “cutting room, a laboratory for cinema.“
In Eixample, one of Barcelona’s bustling commercial districts, you’ll find one of the city’s most exciting and thoughtful galleries, Projecte SD. Founded in 2003, it operates with a distinct curatorial perspective: creating dialogue between established artists and emerging talents. It does so through collaborative showings, as well as through the distribution and publication of unique artist books. Projecte SD also produces limited edition posters to add to its growing collection of visual material. The Passatge de Mercader space is known for hosting artists like Dora García and Guy Mees. Right now (though it’s not the first time they’ve shown him), Matt Mullican has taken over the walls, corners and pretty much every part of Projecte SD.
On now: Matt Mullican “Representing The Work”, a collection of the artist’s work throughout his career, featuring drawings, multimedia, posters and more.
Fundació Joan Miró/Espai 13
The Fundació Joan Miró is one of Barcelona’s artistic highlights. Although the space, designed by Josep Lluís Sert in the mid ‘70s, deserves all of its accolades, there is more to this gallery than many visitors realize. Espai 13 is housed in the basement of the Fundació Joan Miró on Parc de Montjuïc and displays contemporary work of emerging artists, from both Barcelona and the surrounding community. Since opening in 1978, it has exhibited over 500 artists. It’s a bonus that it gets relatively fewer visitors than the well-trafficked main museum space. Be sure to visit the Fundació Miró garden afterwards to regain clarity.
On now at Espai 13: A Monster Who Tells The Truth, curated by Pilar Cruz.
Bernat Daviu and Joana Rueda’s Bombon Projects opened in 2017 to expand the artistic experience beyond just gallery shows. They also host live music, discussions, installations, and other engaging experiences. Between the shoreline, Parc de la Ciutadella, and Eixample, its white walls sit on Carrer Trafalgar, windows open for onlookers to peer in. Artists on the gallery’s roster include Jordi Mitjà, Diane Guyot, Josep Maynou, and many others. As well as promoting the artists involved with Bombon Projects, the founders have continued to propel a new, innovative generation of artists from Barcelona and beyond Catalonia.
On now: “Medicane”, an exploration of the living cycle of prime materials by Martin Llavaneras.
Originally published on Format Magazine.