There’s a new art space in town! Fundació Gaspar – FREE of charge this weekend for Barcelona residents, and after which is €8 (although I promise to keep you posted on the inaugurations), bids to be ‘an international point of reference’ in the city. But, if the debut show is anything to go by, excitingly offers we Barcelona residents who are not ourselves artists (they remembered us!) established, high-profile contemporary art of the sort that is rarely – so rarely – shown here, unless it’s so tied up in the PhD requirements of a Macba visit as to render its elitism-irony ironically elitist.
Fundació Gaspar is located in Palau Cervelló, a fifteenth century gothic palace on C/Montcada 25 often mistaken for the Picasso museum. If the name ‘Gaspar’ sounds familiar then that’s because the family has been on the gallery scene for ages, and is still represented by the commercial gallery Joan Gaspar, near Hospital Clínic. And if this mind-blowingly stunning new space looks familiar, then that’s because it was previously the location of gallery Maeght, that closed in 2012.
The Fundació’s director, Moishan Gaspar Abdal-lah, is the original Gaspar’s great grandson. He’s owned a number of commercial gallery spaces in Barcelona, as well as one in Monterrey, Mexico. While the art in this space is clearly not for sale, if this first collective show is anything to go by, this guy has some connections.
Under the title ‘Art Strikes Back!‘ this madly eclectic and highly prestigious first show features quality works from popular artists, much of which dates from the 2000s: Dieter Roth, Mira Schendel, Christoph Schlingensief, Diana Thater, Rita Ackermann, Martin Creed, Thomas Houseago… There are a couple of rude ones by Subodh Gupta and Paul McCarthy respectively, and even a cheeky Louise Bourgeois… There’s workable flying machine by the funny Roman Signer, a mirrored Tardis by Turner Prize-winner Mark Wallinger (that may or may not reference something I saw by Donald Judd in the Tate), and a congregation of baked bread lambs admiring a Jesus, who looks like pop artist Richard Hamilton (allegedly). The buns, one of whom’s butt is burnt, form part of Feed My Lambs (2008), an installation by Tacita Dean and Peter Fillingham that ruminates on their visit to Catalan coastal town Cadaqués. They were baked locally for the show, a staff member confirms, but sadly the mold is not available in the gift shop.
With maximum art and minimum texts (unless they are an intrinsic part of the artwork – in which case they are also in comprehensive English), this is a show in which to wander and muse ones contemporariness, have a cup of tea, and then wander and muse some more (there are plenty of toilets). While one could argue that this is not exactly cutting edge art – these artists are already canonical – and that €8 is maybe a bit steep, I’d argue that this energising, exciting space slots into a gap between Barcelona’s re-burgeoning gallery scene and its sometimes annoying institutional one. Most importantly, though, Fundació Gaspar ups the local stakes on what contemporary art is meant to do and who it is meant to be for.
Art Strikes Back!
Fundació Gaspar – C/Montcada 25, Barcelona
Free November 21st and 22nd; €8 after that.