A few years back, life-long art patron and collector Isidre Bohigas decided it was time for Barcelona to put its name on the map of the contemporary art scene and spread the word that this city has much more to offer than just the works of Gaudí. In 1990, his desire culminated in the inauguration of Piramidón, a truly unique contemporary art centre in the Sant Martí district.
“Not too long ago the appreciation of contemporary art here in Spain and abroad was rather insubstantial in comparison to the reverence given to classical artists,” Bohigas told Metropolitan.
The creation of contemporary art museums and galleries across Spain, Europe and the rest of the world over the last 15 years highlights the way in which modern era artists have begun to garner the recognition they deserve. Today the Guggenheim in Bilbao, the MACBA here in Barcelona and a multitude of other spaces are alive with the talent of new artists and their important contributions to contemporary art.
Stepping into the Piramidón gallery on the top floor you are treated to a diverse and engaging display of works created on the premises. One of the fundamental ideas that Isidre had when he created this nest for artists perched high above the city was to create a sense of stability for the artists. Once an artist comes to work at the centre he is literally handed the keys to the place. Jordi Bohigas, who runs Piramidón with his father Isidre, explained. “We want to give the artists total freedom. If they want to work at three o’clock in the morning, it’s no problem!”
As well as providing a place for the artists to work they help to promote their work by aiding in the creation of catalogues and arranging exhibitions in the Piramidón gallery and some of the finest galleries, contemporary art museums and festivals worldwide. For Piramidón, their own success is intimately linked with that of the artists, as they agree to an ‘exchange’ with those who work in the studios. A certain amount of each artist’s output goes to Piramidón to sell or rent, while the remaining work allows artists to maintain their own commitments to galleries worldwide. In this way, both Piramidón and the artists pay their bills.
This concept has been a successful one, and quite a few of the artists now working at Piramidón have won important awards and accolades throughout Spain and other countries. Most notably resident artist Carlos Pazos was awarded Spain’s prestigious Premio Nacional de Artes Plasticas in 2004. Piramidón artists regularly appear in some of Barcelona’s most well known galleries and museums, such as Carles Tache, Trama, Galeria Metropolitana, the MACBA and other important venues in Madrid and the rest of Spain.
Each of the 17 artists has a generous studio to which they have access any time they wish. Of these studios, one is permanently dedicated to visiting artists who come here from over 30 countries and generally spend three to four months in Barcelona. As Piramidón is well known in art circles, professional artists who are interested in coming to live and work here are often directed there by local galleries. Artist Hector Francesch, a Galician artist from A Coruña who has passed a period as a visiting artist at Piramidón, said he could feel how the proximity of other artists influences his work and style. “It’s really enjoyable working around so many other artists but it has both its positive and negative sides. Seeing the work of other artists can help to enrich your work and at the same time you can see that they have the same problems that you have. The danger is that these little problems can be contagious.”
Artists interested in applying to work at Piramidón are selected by the directorial staff at the centre. Applications are generally done in person by bringing a portfolio to the centre to meet the staff and discuss their work. Piramidón’s initial criteria are simple: artists who take their work seriously, and who wish to progess both artistically and professionally are welcome to apply.
Piramidón is located at Consell de Trent 313 on the 16th floor.
For more info visit www.piramidon.com