Interview with Susanna Corchia
Director of the Barcelona Gallery Weekend
Tell us a little bit about the history of Barcelona Gallery Weekend
It was 2014 when the members of the gallery association Art Barcelona decided to organize the first Barcelona Gallery Weekend. At that time, I was a gallerist myself and I had already travelled with other colleagues to attend fairs all around the world. Every year we participated on an average of seven to eight fairs, which was very demanding in terms of time, energy and money. We were all a bit tired of that kind of “tyranny”. We knew we had a good programme but we also felt the obligation of travelling and exporting the work of our artists in order to increase sales and gain international recognition. At some point, we decided to react to that situation and create something new for the city that could also add value to our work in the local art scene and attract foreign audiences. In 2015, there were few gallery weekends in Europe: the Berlin one, of course, and then Brussels and at the same time, Paris in 2014, so we said, “Let’s try this new formula!”. We wanted to change the dynamics and see what happened. We knew we had a lot to offer and we really wanted to end the “hamster wheel” of the fairs world tour. The idea was to go back to the “grocery store” instead of the “shopping mall”, taking art from the global to the local. The gallery weekend model offered the possibility of highlighting artworks in the gallery space instead of showing them in a (sometimes small) fair booth, and it also offered a chance to celebrate our art scene, our city, to attract people to come to Barcelona and enjoy what we had to offer on our own terms.
This year, we are incredibly happy to celebrate our fifth edition, which runs from the 10th to the 13th of October 2019.
How do you as director, ensure that the event stays contemporary and current in the fast-paced world that is the art market?
Sincerely, I am not concerned about fast changes and ups and downs of the art market; I just care about quality and honest work. Only the passing of time will tell us what was worthy and sometimes not even history is fair. Having said that, I think the strength of Barcelona Gallery Weekend is the richness of its programme, which covers the vanguards of the past century, as well as young emerging artists, local talent and internationally renowned names. Our collateral programme also gives freshness to the whole kermesse. Since the very first edition, we have offered a wider panorama that encourages dialogue between art, architecture and urbanism, with site specific interventions in public spaces via the wonderful programme, Compositions. Curated this year by Juan Canela (co-founder of BAR Project residencies and associate researcher of oslo BIENNALEN FIRST EDITION 2019-2024), five interventions will bring art in the streets of Barcelona through installations, video and performances, bringing together works by Mercedes Mangrané, Felipe Mujica, Erick Beltrán, Daniela Ortiz, and Marc Vives.
Is there something in this year’s program that you are particularly looking forward to?
In Barcelona over the past three years, we have experienced a new wave in the gallery scene. New spaces are opening, established galleries are moving from the city centre, and a new generation of enthusiastic young entrepreneurs are challenging the laws of market. I am particularly curious about the new proposals in town, for example Christto & Andrew artworks at Espai Tactel Toormix; the multi-curated show at Dilalica, which features works by Shona Kitchen and Lindsay Howard, among others; the new space Alalimón, a joint venture of two galleries, Art Deal Project and Catascopio; the all-women show at L&B Contemporary Art, with works by Meta Isæus-Berlin, Maria Pratts, Anna Ill, and Núria Rion; and Francisca Benítez’s solo show at the Barcelona-based space of the Chilean gallery, Die Ecke arte contemporáneo.
What do the artworks being presented at this year's Gallery Weekend reveal about the current trends and market?
Aside from technique, I can see a tangible desire for experimentation: artists become curators; gallerists collaborate with curators; disciplines are permeable and the boundaries are increasingly more subtle. Artworks cover painting to photography, passing via sculpture and works on paper. We will also have (finally!) some examples of digital art, which is a rarity in our local commercial scene but very welcome indeed. This may reveal perhaps a new trend, although for the wider market, it is still something not so easy to incorporate.
What advice do you have for the collectors that will be attending the event this year?
I strongly recommend attending the guided tours we organize for professionals and also to meet the artists. From these encounters, collectors can really deepen their knowledge about the art scene in Barcelona and both offer a unique opportunity to discover new talent. I also suggest to plan to stay the whole weekend, from Thursday to Sunday, in order to have the possibility of enjoying the event fully and to take part in all the activities in our programme, taking advantage of this unique opportunity to experience our lovely city in a different way than tourists do.
Another important piece of advice is to dare. Try new things, visit new galleries - not just the ones they already know. As said, we are experiencing a new vibe in the city; new galleries are opening so I recommend being curious. Always!
Amongst the overall program, what specific exhibition or event is on your “must-see” list?
This is a very difficult question, like asking a mother which child she loves the best! :) But, of course, I can point out some highlights. After sixteen years in the same venue, ADN Galería will celebrate the inauguration of an amazing new space with a collective show of all represented artists, including Mounir Fatmi, Kendell Geers, Bouchra Khalili and Jordi Colomer. Artist and curator Patricia Bentancur will show her works at Arte Aurora. After curating the Pavilion of Uruguay at the Venice Biennale, we are all very excited about what she will propose for Barcelona Gallery Weekend. etHALL will show Basque artist Itziar Okaritz, who represents Spain at the current Venice Biennale, together with Sergio Prego, so if you liked the Spanish Pavilion, I am sure you will enjoy the show she is preparing for the space the gallery recently moved to. Portuguese artist Diogo Pimentão will exhibit in a solo show for the first time in Spain at RocioSantaCruz; Mexican ceramist Gustavo Pérez will have a solo show at Artur Ramon Gallery; the famous Spanish painter Juan Uslé will present his latest work at Gallery Joan Prats; and if what moves you is the classic masters of the 20th century, then you will be in your element at Mayoral with an exquisite group show featuring Joan Brossa, Alexander Calder, Eduardo Chillida, Modest Cuixart, Salvador Dalí, Manolo Millares, Joan Miró, Pablo Picasso, Joan Ponç, and Antonio Saura.
Finally, about the local scene, don’t miss the Jaime Pitarch’s exhibition at àngels barcelona; Jordi Mitjà and Josep Maynou dialogue at Bombon Projects; and Magda Bolumar’s artworks at Marc Domènech.
Of course, I strongly recommend seeing all twenty-seven exhibitions and the five site-specific interventions of the parallel programme, Compositions. It will be incredible... See you there!
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