Cristina Guerra Contemporary Art – Lisbon, Portugal
Boosting Lisbon's Art Scene One Exhibition at a Time
Lisbon is one of those cities that if you know it, you adore it: Lisboans are almost overwhelmingly friendly, the city boasts a near 24-hour availability of Pastéis de Nata, its spring like climate envelopes Portugal's capital year round, and its close proximity to the ocean. That, coupled with the very reasonable cost of living, basically make Lisbon the perfect hideout for those seeking to escape the harsh Central European winters.
Though its art scene has steadily evolved over the last decade, the same cannot be said for its local economic growth. In fact, the two have almost developed in opposite directions, believes Cristina Guerra Contemporary Art's Head of Communications, Sonia Taborda. Portugal, and Lisbon along with it, is still reeling from the economic crisis the country went through over the last ten years and as a result its economy has since stagnated and shrunk significantly. There's an uptick happening though – the art scene is feverishly hoping that further economic stability will encourage collectors to invest more: “Few people have been willing to take economic risks lately”, comments Taborda.
The city is the proud home to a very rich and intense culture that is finally getting some attention after years of neglect next to its flashier Spanish neighbor. Sonia Taborda is sure that “this quality reputation is essential for the art market and specifically to place the Portuguese artists on the map”. Local artists are constantly exposed to international curators, collectors, and art lovers and all of this creates awareness for the art market's harsh demands whilst making for a healthy sense of competition.
“Lisbon has an enormous potential to become even more competitive, leveling the quality of its art scene to a European cosmopolitan city, like London or Paris”. The upside to Lisbon's size is the ease of which one can move about the city, a determining factor for the success of its cultural institutions. Taborda believes that Lisbon’s museums and galleries need to come together in a joint effort to ensure the quality of their content and filter out what she refers to as “some of their trivial tendencies”.
Cristina Guerra Contemporary Art is primarily interested in conceptual art and has recently started to include more international artists in their roster. “Besides this natural inclination in our program, we relate to artists that have the ability to constantly evolve their ideas while managing a coherent body of work”, says Taborda on the galleries program. 2017 is set to be a very hectic year for the gallery: they will be at the Venice Biennale where Erwin Wurm will represent Austria, during September's Istanbul Biennale Angolan artist Yonamine was invited by the curators and they will also be taking Yonamine to the Ural Industrial Biennial of Contemporary Art.
Besides the active Biennales agenda, the gallery is hosting solo shows for José Loureiro, Angela Bulloch, Jonathan Monk, and Ryan Gander who will open the fall program. The year ends with a group show curated by Gregory Lang. Ambitious plans for a gallery that's certainly doing its part in boosting the quality of Lisbon's art scene – others would be smart to follow suit.
Liv Fleischhacker is a freelance writer based in Berlin. Her favorite topics include art, design and food.