Massimiliano Moro - Light tilt
Massimiliano Moro - Light tilt

Durães-West Top Pick for 2023: avant-garde art venues

Yes, I know this is Portugal Resident, but Spain is our neighbour, and we should all look to broadening our horizons particularly in terms of art.

My top gallery opening pick for 2023 is Al-Tiba9 Contemporary, in Barcelona. The space was built by José Fontseré y Mestre, a figure of Catalan modernism, with 300sqm of gallery space located five minutes from the Picasso Museum, Moco Museum and the European Museum of Modern Art (MEAM).

The opening took place on October 6 and the show will continue to be open to the public until November 18.

Al-Tiba9 is a cultural project founded by Algerian curator and performance artist Mohamed Benhadj to address contemporary art and represent artistic creations from the Catalan and European nations that share a history of the sea.

Benhadj is one of the most influential art curators from Algeria with a decade in the international field of contemporary art, an icon of performance art, known for his audacious and avant-garde style.

The vision of Al-Tiba9 is to create a space for emerging contemporary artists and a springboard into the international art scene. With an emphasis on international cultural exchange, bridging Eastern and Western creativity, the project has expanded its reach from Algeria into Barcelona, Spain.

Eriko Kaniwa - Watery-Being
Eriko Kaniwa – Watery-Being

Notable artists and their work represented at the gallery inauguration include Eriko Kaniwa with her alien-like representations of jellyfish, Massimiliano Moro and Pavel Korbička light installations, Tianlan Deng and the curator himself Mohamed Benhadj.

Eriko Kaniwa creates digitally-enhanced artwork based on her unique philosophy. Her work has been displayed at galleries in London and New York, as well as at art fairs and international exhibitions such as Paris photo fair Fotofever and Barcelona Foto Biennale. She has been featured in magazines such as British GQ, London Life, Wired, and NY-ARTNews.

“To take photographs and look at them is to become a witness to the manifestation of events that appear and disappear within the flow of time immemorial. For me, photography is not a philosophical metaphor for death or the past, but rather a crystallisation of the temporal dimension with which humans react so vitally, achieved through the medium of light,” said Eriko Kaniwa.

Massimiliano Moro currently lives and works between Lugano (Switzerland) and Barcelona (Spain). He seeks to create new equilibrium between light and architecture through design and sculpture. His interdisciplinary methodology results in interventions that modify the perception of space.

In 2006, he began his artistic training at La Escola Massana where he studied Sculpture and later graduated in Art and Design. At the European Institute of Design in Barcelona, he obtained the Master IED in Architectural Lighting, where he currently teaches Light Art. During his student years, he collaborated with the international artist Tom Carr.

Mohamed Benhadj - My Soul
Mohamed Benhadj – My Soul

Pavel Korbička is a Czech artist. He studied under Professor Stanislav Kolíbal and Professor Miloš Šejn at the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague. In 2019, he participated in the SCOPE Light Art Residency, Berlin, and, in 2020, he won the Pollock Krasner Foundation Grant (US). This year, he received a Creative Scholarship from the Ministry of Culture of the Czech Republic.

Pavel Korbička exploits each creative impulse down to the minutest detail and is able to bring his message across with the use of the most economical devices; his idiom conveying an experience of great intensity.

He works with space, light, and colour, employing various combinations of new and classical technologies. He manages to conjure up a state of suspense between objects and installations.

Whether he displays them indoors or outdoors is of no relevance. While his sculptures may superficially appear static, they actually attest to a great deal of importance assigned by the artist to the element of motion. Motion, that is, does not involve the objects themselves but rather concerns the viewers circling or entering them. With every new step, correlations between light and colour transform.

Tianlan Deng - Loop
Tianlan Deng – Loop

Thus, the artist’s message acquires new dynamism, as the viewers perceive the composition as a whole in a different and sometimes quite unexpected way with each change of perspective or colour.

Born in Shanghai, Tianlan Deng holds an MFA in Interior Design (or Interior Architecture) from The Pratt Institute, NYC. His work involves interdisciplinary practices including text-based installation, projected video media, architectural design and traditional Asian painting.

Moving to the USA after 20 years growing under Chinese school educational system, Tianlan Deng has built a strong interest in institutional topics and architectural spatial design, with a focus on public school and progressive education.

His master thesis is a design project cooperation with Rockaway Park High School at Beach Channel Educational Campus, NYC, to create art installations with projected media while improving the school’s prison-like interior atmosphere, offering an alternative learning experience and promoting students’ recruiting.

Pavel Korbička - Horizonty světla
Pavel Korbička – Horizonty světla

Using miniature diorama, light, shadow, and video, Tianlan creates immersive experiences to unveil hidden similarities between current Chinese and American education and their political agendas.

I wish all the artists involved and Mohamed Benhadj a successful gallery opening, and I hope my readers will have a chance to pay Al-Tiba9 Contemporary Gallery a visit, alongside the other more traditional gallery giants of Barcelona.

By Durães-West
|| [email protected]

Durães-West is a contemporary artist and painter living and working in Portugal. He paints large-scale abstract works at his new studio in the Alentejo. His work has attracted several collectors with exhibitions in Lisbon, the Algarve, UK and the Middle East.