Andrea Rodríguez Novoa and Mariña Álvarez, joint directors of Barcelona Gallery Weekend
What is Art Barcelona and what is the Barcelona Gallery Weekend?
Art Barcelona, a non-profit association of art galleries, has been promoting joint initiatives to publicize and support contemporary art since 1990. Its aim is to attract visitors to galleries and to encourage reflection and debate on contemporary culture.
One of the initiatives of Art Barcelona is the Barcelona Gallery Weekend, during which thirty galleries in Barcelona, L'Hospitalet de Llobregat and the Penedès region celebrate the start of the art year with a special program of exhibitions and activities aimed at all audiences.
When was Art Barcelona founded and when did you start to work there?
Art Barcelona was founded in 1990 and Barcelona Gallery Weekend is to be held for the 9th time in 2023. Mariña started to work as coordinator in BGW in 2018, when it was managed by Susanna Corchia. And in 2022 Andrea and Mariña became joint directors.
What do you like most about the job?
It's very enriching, both in terms of the art and on a human level.
The Art Barcelona team, which also coordinates Art Nou, a festival that highlights emerging local art, works very harmoniously, which is a great pleasure. And the program of public and general activities brings us into contact with a wide range of interesting people who all share the same interest in art. It is a great pleasure to be involved with Art Barcelona.
And the least?
Maybe the more routine administrative work, but it’s all part of the job.
What is Barcelona Gallery Weekend particularly good at?
Barcelona Gallery Weekend offers a high-quality program of art that is designed to please anyone who is at all interested in art.
The intention of the weekend is to encourage the general public to discover contemporary art in the galleries, whose exhibitions are open to the public throughout the year. The idea is to raise awareness of the importance of galleries’ work as producers of culture and to encourage art collecting, which is not as expensive as one might imagine.
What is the main challenge of the initiative?
It seems like a contradiction in terms, but it may be that its main function—to encourage people not to be shy about entering galleries—is also its greatest challenge!
Where is the company located? Do you know why this location was chosen?
Art Barcelona is based in Barcelona and represents the interests of 37 art galleries that are members of the association. The galleries are located in Barcelona, L'Hospitalet de Llobregat, and Santa Margarida i els Monjos in the Penedès district.
The Barcelona Gallery Weekend event is open to all contemporary and avant-garde art galleries in Barcelona and the surrounding area. Following a call for entries each year between December and January, galleries interested in participating submit an exhibition proposal that is evaluated by a committee.
The general program includes exhibitions in the participating galleries—this year there will be 27, of which 21 are in Barcelona, 5 in L'Hospitalet de Llobregat, and one in Santa Margarida i els Monjos. There are also numerous guided tours, guided visits, special visits for families, walks led by curators, meetings, talks, presentations, workshops, and other activities related to contemporary art.
What do you like best about the neighborhood where you work?
The association is based at HANGARa center for artistic research and creation located in the Can Ricart complex in the Poblenou, a highly dynamic and vibrant neighborhood.
As we have mentioned, the galleries that take part in the weekend are in different parts of the city (Eixample, Gràcia, Ciutat Vella, Sant Antoni) and the surrounding area (L'Hospitalet, in the Santa Eulàlia neighborhood, and Santa Margarida i els Monjos, in the Penedès). The location of our headquarters, galleries and other art spaces, together with the nature of our work, enables us to visit almost every part of Barcelona. We don't just love the neighborhood: we love the city!
How important is Barcelona for your company?
31 of the 37 associated galleries are based in Barcelona itself, as are 21 of the galleries participating in BGW2023
Barcelona is at the heart of our undertaking: Barcelona Gallery Weekend aims to strengthen and showcase the rich and varied artistic fabric of Barcelona, to promote local art collecting, and to highlight the work of galleries in the city and its surroundings, spaces that generate culture that are open to all.
BGW enables those on the local art scene to promote the art market. It does so by encouraging the involvement of the general public, collectors, professionals and representatives of local and foreign art institutions, and potential buyers and purchasers.
With which city would you compare Barcelona?
Barcelona is a unique city with a personality of its own that is difficult to define. It is an international tourist center for a variety of reasons: the coast and the climate, of course, but also the range of culture on offer here. As far as art is concerned, Barcelona has a touch of Brussels perhaps, but also of Marseilles, and it has an open character that is very typical of the local people.
Which other cities should Barcelona resemble?
Barcelona is a model in itself! In terms of urban planning, for example, it has been and continues to be both friendly and cultivated. We do not believe that it should follow a specific model, but should adapt to the needs of its inhabitants as well as its visitors.
What good practices from other cities would you like Barcelona to adopt?
Perhaps Amsterdam's detailed, pedestrian and cycle-friendly urban design. Barcelona has a scale and climate that makes it very walkable, which is not only environmentally sustainable but also healthier for an increasingly sedentary population.
With one or two exceptions, all the galleries taking part in the Barcelona Gallery Weeked can be visited on foot.
What do you ask of the Barcelona of the future?
I would urge it not to fall into decline. And I would encourage it to progress, but at its own pace.