Recap: Madrid’s Apertura 2012: An Introduction to the Contemporary Art Galleries in Madrid
Tucked just outside the contemporary art world’s spotlight (intently fixated on London, Paris, New York and Berlin), Madrid’s art scene may lack recognition, but compensates with content and range. Historically, Spain has produced some of the art world’s most widely-recognized names, such as Picasso, Dali, and Goya, and with the current political strife and social dissent over economic woes, Madrid has the talent, energy and potential to be a breeding ground for some serious artistic innovation.
Madrid’s Third Annual Apertura2012 was a weekend-long introduction into the contemporary art scene. Organized by Arte_Madrid, an association of 46 of Madrid’s contemporary art galleries founded in 2000, Apertura2012 consisted of 4 days of open private collections, brunch held within the galleries, and art walks introducing art enthusiasts and potential collectors to participating galleries.
Personally, my tastes for art (as my tastes for music, fashion, literature and even friends tend to be aligned with) are loud and rebellious, and so sometimes the contemporary art world’s sterility and elitist pretentiousness annoys and bores me (this isn’t always the case—and wasn’t the case during Apertura2012). One of my favorite things about street art is the direct interaction it has with my day: I’m on my way to work, and I walk by a mural, I’m sitting on the bus, and I try to decipher the jumbled tags etched into the window, I’m looking at the walls of the bathroom at Max Fish after breaking the seal 3 PBRs later, etc. It becomes part of life by being present even during benign moments.
That being said, neither contemporary art nor street art exist in a bubble, and the influencing factors that influence one, also influence the other—not to mention that oftentimes artists take inspiration from one another, visiting galleries, and gathering ideas from each other’s work. Also, seeing art in an isolated environment when I’m not mid morning coffee, trying to light a cigarette and rush to the nearest subway station does provide a different art appreciation experience. So although I realize this may be a bit on the peripheral for those strictly interested in graffiti art, here are the top 5 contemporary art galleries in no particular order which I visited as part of Apertura2012:
1. Iris Schomaker::Speak More Truth::Distrito 4
The opening of Artist Iris Schomaker’s first show with Distrito 4 coincided with Apertura2012. Her abstract paintings which mix figure with landscape and abstraction are dark, melancholy, and exude a similar young angst to the emotion that is oftentimes conveyed in bright colors from murals and street walls.
Distrito 4::M-F 10.30-7.30, Sa 10.30-2:: Alcalá 115, 1º Dcha. 28009, Madrid.
2. Germán Gómez::Años 30::Galería Fernando Pradilla
Galería Fernando Pradilla presents an intimate and personal exhibit by Germán Gómez documenting his 30s. The film component and the multi-media collages add to the exhibit, providing a very documentary-like feel. However, the highlight of this exhibit is Germán Gómez’s portraits.
Galería Fernando Pradilla::M-F 10.30-8.30, Sa 11.30-8.30::C/Claudio Coello 20, Madrid
3. Franz Roh::Guillermo de Osma
Franz Roh, a German artist famous for coining the term “Magical Realism”, worked with collage to create surreal imagery. Roh’s work was a bit of an anomaly, and was not accepted into the mainstream art culture of the time. Roh was jailed during the Nazi Regime, and used his time in prison to write a book titled “The Unrecognized Artist: History and Theory of Cultural Misunderstanding”. His work in Magical Realism followed chronologically Dadaism and more or less coincided with Surrealism.
Guillermo de Osma::M-F 10.00-2.00, 4.30-8.30::Claudio Coello 4, 1st Floor, Madrid
4. Svätopluk Mikyta::Polaroids::The Goma
The Goma featured a collection of Polaroids taken by Czechoslovakian artist Svätopluk Mikyta. The photos were taken in NYC during the 58 days the artist had for a residency in New York. These Polaroids specifically highlight New York’s trademark quality of light. They also really got me homesick for my adopted city.
The Goma::T-Sa 11.00-2.00, 4.30-8.30::Calle del Fúcar, 12, Madrid
5. Sally Mann::At 12::La Fabrica Galería
Sally Mann, an American photographer known for her controversial black and white photographs of her children, presents a collection of photographs of women at 12 PM. This series deals with the sociologic development of women through age by capturing a moment of their day at different periods. La Fabrica Galería has exhibited some impressive contemporary photographers, including Diane Arbus.
La Fabrica Galería::M-F 10.30-7.30, Sa 10.30-2:: C/ Verónica 13, Madrid.
As I followed my knowledgeable guide towards the final gallery, a mass of protesters came into view–complete with their own drum circle, slogan-covered signs, and that ambiguous roar that large protests seem to always produce. These galleries’ next artists were probably in that crowd. Galleries may take in and preserve the art, but art is always created from events such as this: struggle, love, lust, life, etc. Art is not made in or inspired by a room with all white walls, and thus while keeping aware of artistic trends and appreciating art on the blank walls of galleries does allow one to contemplate the meaning of the works in a more focused environment, being in the streets, listening to the people of a city or region, and being aware of life is ultimately more important in the pursuit of artistic inspiration. As Spain’s own Picasso once said, “We all know that Art is not truth. Art is a lie that makes us realize truth.”
Text and Photo: Megan Youngblood