One of the biggest reasons people decide to visit Madrid is for its collection of museums. It is well known that Madrid’s museums have some of the greatest art collections in the world. The Prado, the Reina Sofia, and more are commonly visited tourist attractions. What many people don’t know, however, is that Madrid also has an incredibly vibrant and unique independent gallery scene. Sometimes in places you’d least expect, it is possible to find small galleries run by local artists all with a unique voice and attracting a culture of artists it is hard to find anywhere else.Out of my experience, here are just a few of the many independent galleries and art spaces to check out in Madrid.
What better place for an art space than an old slaughterhouse? Matadero (Paseo de la Chopera, 14; http://www.mataderomadrid.org/actividades/exposiciones.html) is not a gallery; it is a collection of spaces for art exhibitions, installations, performances, and workshops, located in the old slaughterhouses of Madrid. The heart of Matadero is a space called Nave 16 which, because of its size and versatility, is the one of the only spaces in the city for large-scale installations incorporating both audio and visual elements. Currently Nave 16 is housing an installation entitled “Cada Respiro” which includes projected images and sound to express the connection of humanity to nature through the most simple human action: breathing.
Espacio Valverde (C/de Valverde, 30 ;http://www.espaciovalverde.es/) is one of the most critically-acclaimed galleries in Madrid. Started by Jacobo Fitz-James Stuart and his partner Aséla Perrez Becerril, it has brought innovative and groundbreaking new work to Madrid’s art scene for almost a decade. Located in the heart of Malasaña on Calle de Valverde, it is a place that is sure to attract a great crowd and sure to impress! Currently they are showing the works of Robert Ferrer i Martorell entitled “Fragments of the Invisible” with an installation of expressive, abstract, and amazing sculptures.
Slowtrack (C/ Cañizares, 12;http://www.slowtracksociety.com/) is a gallery that is without definition. It is a small and young space tucked away in the Lavapiés neighborhood near Metro Antón Martin, what Slowtrack lacks in size it makes up for in personality. The gallery is currently showing work from two female artists: Clara Montoya and Clara Cebrían, both displaying a minimal but unique approach to art by using unconventional materials for their art. Slowtrack is a quick look into the vibrancy of independent art that you shouldn’t miss.
Slowtrack turned out to be one of the most interesting cultural experiences of my stay in Madrid. There was an open bar with juices, white and red wine, and champagne for all the guests. Inside I was able to see art like I had not seen before. Animated short films with painted film negatives that created a jubilant effect, moving textile color pieces, optical illusions and more. Some of the art challenged me to really think not only about the art itself but also about Madrileñan culture. I was able to see a side of the art world that is ignored by the more mainstream art museums.
“Young galleries accept new ways of expression, especially embracing urban art and street art,” Slowtrack Curator Inés Muñozcano said. “We are concerned with the appearance of our environment and especially the streets on which we walk, so we look to fill them with beautiful expressions and intelligent messages.”
Muñozcano also explained that smaller galleries served to expose independent art to those who normally would not know it existed. Even though the stakes of being an independent artists are risky, galleries try to give artists the chance to take that risk and create something with a real message.
On top of the great art and free drinks, the Slowtrack opening showed me a side of the people of Madrid that was fashionable, artistic, and unique. Most people at the event were dressed to the tens and conversations ranged from political history to bullfight protesting to organic agriculture. Since then I have found that the variety from all the different galleries throughout different neighborhoods provide a beautiful peek into a culture of expression unique to Madrid.
With a beautiful location in Lavapiés,Galeria Alegria (C/Doctor Fourquet 35 ; http://www.galeriaalegria.es/home.php) aims to give light to art that is both beautiful and defiant. Until March 14, the gallery will be showing the gorgeous photographic work of José Ramón Ais, which investigates the utopic natural quality of parks that are simultaneously products of culture. The gallery has both resident artists as well as rotating exhibitions from artists that have grabbed its interest. No matter what the exhibit, the works of Alegria are sure to blow you away.
I highly recommend visiting the above places and doing some research to find more on your own!
By Elijah Fosl
Check out some events in Madrid’s museums !