Somewhere between the Reina Sofia, Spain’s national museum of modern and contemporary art, and La Casa Encendida, Madrid’s social and cultural center, an old plumbing warehouse has emerged as one of the art district’s most alluring spaces. Rich with charms like exposed concrete columns and painted brick, Galeria Nogueras Blanchard is slotted on Calle del Doctor Fourquet, one of Madrid’s most popular blocks for contemporary art, and regularly opens its doors for public initiatives—think book clubs or intimate talks between artists, curators, and critics huddled within the gallery’s kitchen. Next week, among the neighborhood’s barrage of exhibitions by young Spanish artists (incited by contemporary art fair ARCOmadrid) the gallery will show work by Avilés-born Fran Meana, in addition to offering a strong presentation at the fair. It seems the perfect time to chat with proprietor and co-director, Álex Nogueras, about his half-eponymous space and how his program came to exist.
“My first job was a guide in a medieval castle,” Nogueras says in a strange but befitting admission. “I really enjoyed walking people around the space and telling them stories (not necessarily historically accurate!)” Eventually, Nogueras made the switch from the Middle Ages to contemporary art and coordinated his first exhibition, featuring works by Rirkrit Tiravanija, at Sala Montcada in Barcelona. “To me it was a landmark show,” he says. “I learned a lot from the artist and the team behind the project; I became extremely interested in the production aspect of contemporary art, and I think this is something that somehow has translated into the program of the gallery.”
Today, Nogueras applies his early experience to his galleries (Nogueras Blanchard’s other space holds court in Barcelona’s trendy Raval neighborhood) and a program devoted to long-term commitment with artists coupled with deep involvement in the production of their works. “Both me and my partner Rebeca Blanchard are passionate about following step-by-step the development of artists’ ideas,” he says. “We try our best to foster artists’ projects—and realize them.”
At ARCOmadrid, the gallery will show works that address repetition in a geometric form; among them, pieces by Ignacio Uriarte, Anne-Lise Coste, Fran Meana, and Christopher Knowles, who they’ve just begun to collaborate with. “I’m especially drawn to the vintage Typings by Christopher Knowles; I think they are a real gem and it is a privilege to introduce him to Spanish and European audiences,” he says. “They are very personal works and reveal genuine intimacy. Through repetition and the shaping of texts, I think these works are timeless.” The other works he calls out, though less evidently geometric, are by Michiel Ceulers and Rubén Grilo. “Rubén Grilo’s Crashed Car pieces have been restored and yet bear the shape of the accident, while projecting a laser shape onto another wall. They are beautiful and very enigmatic works,” he says.
See for yourself at Nogueras Blanchard, ARCOmadrid 2014, Section 9, Booth B13, Feb. 19th – 23rd.
Fran Meana’s “Reasoning well with badly drawn figures” is on view at Nogueras Blanchard, Madrid, through March 29th.
Portrait by of Alex by Roberto Ruiz