Art in Barcelona: must-see exhibitions
Art exhibitions you won't want to miss in Barcelona's museums and galleries
©Arxiu Fotogràfic. Museu Nacional del Prado
This exhibition has been designed by Ai Weiwei himself especially for the Virreina Centre de la Imatge as a way to get to know the body of work in the artist's long career, from his beginnings in New York in the 1980s until today, making him the most well-known and influential dissident Chinese artist in the world. An activist and a celebrity, Ai's work merges with his militancy in denouncing the lack of freedom in China, while at the same time appearing at major events and in contemporary art collections. The exhibition explores strategies of approach and intervention on reality through images. From an artistic practice that includes photography and documentary film, sculpture, design and architecture, Ai's images are operations that transcend formats and disciplines, infiltrating and circulating through social networks and related areas of popular culture. In addition to several key works to get you deeper into the artist's oeuvre, La Virreina will also present previously unseen works, new productions and an installation conceived by Ai Weiwei specifically for this show.
- Rated as: 4/5
There are dark legends that darken further with time. These days if we were to read that a man shot his partner and then himself, we'd look at it as another in a too-long string of domestic violence cases. But when the shooter is a close friend of the great Pablo Picasso, and the artist himself, with a bit of weight on his conscience, invokes the deed as the main theme of his Blue Period, then we're no longer talking about a sordid incident, but something romantic and typical of the bohemian attitude of the time. The legend of Carles Casagemas attracts us. Less is known about his work. Eduard Vallès, curator of the exhibition devoted to 'The Artist Beneath the Myth' has managed to isolate, or contextualise within the discourse of art history, the brief but brilliant part Casagemas played. (read more)
Carol Rama is an artist whose work is difficult to classify, who questions her female condition and has developed a very personal language. Her work combines sensuality, fetishism and pleasure with pain, fear, anxiety and anger – all very marked by the memory of her personal and family circumstances. As she wrote in 1996, ‘I paint by instinct and I paint out of passion and anger and violence and sadness and a certain fetishism and out of joy and melancholy all at the same time, and out of anger especially.' This exhibition aims to bring a lesser-known work to light and relate it to that of other women artists. A catalog will also be published to coincide with the exhibition.
- Rated as: 4/5
Explaining what happened in Barcelona between 1914 and 1918 is quite a difficult task. And even more so if we try to do it from the point of view of the arts. But that's what the curators of the exhibition Barcelona, neutral zone (1914-1918), Fèlix Fanés and Joan M. Minguet, have tried to do. So have they managed to pull it off? The effort is laudable, although there are literary references that go far beyond exhibition resources. Barcelona, at the time, was one of the most interesting cities in Europe in terms of social concerns. The city was also home to an intelligentsia that debated whether to create national art from the best of the international avant-garde, or from popular arts and the glorious medieval past. They were times of Commonwealth, the first attempt at self-government – however greatly limited – since 1714. They were also times of speculation, banditry, gambling, disease and 'special friends'. (read more)
- Rated as: 4/5
'Liberal society, which otherwise rests on a profound moral collapse, needs above all to be tolerant; this will openly allow for, as well as quietly encouraging and rewarding, all forms of apparent dissent.' With this statement, in 1977, the Art & Language collective outlined its critique of contemporary society. But what or who were these people? What did they want? What were they doing? The answers can be found in an extensive exhibition at the MACBA (which draws on the Philippe Méaille Collection), in the full catalogue produced by Chief Curator Carles Guerra, and on the walls or in the display cases in the museum. But it is also possible that, beyond the basic facts on the information sheets, there are no answers. (read more)
- Rated as: 4/5
Ah, the '80s, the age of disenchantment. After Kennedy and Pope John XXII, it was Reagan, John Paul II and the punks. And after the death of the bogeyman, the dictator Francisco Franco, Spain witnessed the birth of modern artistic and cultural institutions. Artists who had once criticised the system would no longer lift a finger without some kind of subsidy… But the MACBA sees it differently. The collection is the home country, in the form of a handy Kleenex, used in a provocative revision of history. It’s a history with a revolutionary backdrop, in which the working classes armed themselves with dance music, Basque rock, fanzines and appropriation. Organised around familiar themes like 'the sacred and the profane' and 'the body and its inverse', the works on show form the basis of lengthy essays. You can read them or not. And this changes the effect. Carlos Pazos’s installation could be a jumble of references, or a secret semiotic drama, and Humberto Rivas’s photographs of the drag artist Violeta la Burra, a violation of the social norms of the body. (read more)