A vast warehouse in the industrial outskirts of Lisbon; a tiny garage capped with a pine wood structure; and a basement space next to restored medieval ruins. These are some of the extraordinary spaces hosting Lisbon’s booming art scene.
Over the last five years, a flood of art galleries have opened in the Portuguese capital — both in peripheral industrial fringes such as Marvila and Alcantara, and in central areas like Chiado and Alfama. The abundance of empty spaces and relatively cheap property prices, coupled with a growing population of wealthy foreigners, has brought more and more creatives to settle in Lisbon who might otherwise have chosen established art capitals, such as Berlin and London.
Art fairs like Arco Lisboa, Just LX and the newly minted Drawing Room Lisboa – which took place last weekend – have cemented the city’s position on the international art map, as has the arrival of MAAT Lisbon.
Here, we bring you the best private galleries that have set up shop in the last couple of years.
Jeanne Bucher Jaeger
Gallery Jeanne Bucher Jaeger opened its doors in Paris back in 1925 and has since presented modern artists such as Picasso and Kandinsky. For its first international outpost – launched in January – it chose a space in Lisbon’s Chiado neighbourhood, where it exhibits contemporary works by artists linked to the country, including Portugal resident Michael Biberstein. ‘Four years ago we started being surprised by some of our collectors who asked us to deliver works here in Lisbon,’ explained Rui Freire, a managing partner of the gallery. ‘We realized that there was a flow of people, that many people from France moved to Lisbon.’ R. Serpa Pinto 1, 1200-442 Lisboa, Portugal
Young French-born art dealer Maxime Porto opened Ibirapi gallery – exhibiting works connected to nature and ecology – in Beato last February. ‘The artistic production in Portugal is interesting and fresh,’ he explains. ‘Many artists went to study abroad and have come back with new ideas, mixed with a more local practice, technique or theme. Others combine a local or territorial identity with references to international artistic movements.’ The dealer says Marvila and Beato best represent the economic and cultural shift in the city. ‘They are neighbourhoods that, besides guarding a local identity, have received investment by new artistic projects, festivals, breweries, restaurants or design shops.’ Calçada do Duque de Lafões 74, pta 2 1950-102, Beato, Lisboa
Primner Gallery inaugurated on the ground floor of a refurbished residential building in the traditional fado neighbourhood of Alfama. Parts of the building date back to medieval times and have been left exposed. The gallery, started by a Brazilian couple, presents Brazilian artists with a special focus on the country’s Concrete and Neo-Concrete art movements.
Pátio Afonso de Albuquerque 1D, 1100-070 Lisboa
Ainori Gallery exhibits international contemporary artists that explore the aesthetics of irony and reason. Self-described as ‘daring, fresh and provocative’, the gallery is located in the up-and-coming neighbourhood of Alcantara. R. das Fontaínhas 70A, 1300-611 Lisboa
Galeria Francisco Fino
Young art dealer Francisco Fino has been making a name for himself since he chose Lisbon over New York to work as an art dealer in 2012. Last year, he opened a gallery in a former olive oil and wine warehouse in Marvila.
There, he presents both established and emerging names such as Tris Vonna-Michell, Karlos Gil and Mariana Silva. R. Cap. Leitão 76, 1950-052 Lisboa
Located in a former garage between Lisbon and Cascais, this tiny (15 sqm) gallery in Parede was started by a Swedish collector with Portuguese roots who favours quality over quantity. Mikael Larsson represents six young international artists, including Margarida Gouveia, Daniel van Straalen and Alice Ronchi. Rua Teófilo Braga, 14 A, 2775 Parede, Portugal
French architect Benjamin Gonthier would rather call Galeria Foco an ‘artistic and interdisciplinary nucleus’ than an art gallery. The young art dealer fell in love with Lisbon four years ago and exhibits ceramics, product design, sculpture, paintings and film within his Rua da Alegria hub.
Rua da Alegria, 34 R/C – 1250-007 Lisboa
Meaning ‘sacred space’ in East Timor, Uma Lulik gallery is dedicated to South American, African, Middle Eastern and South Asian art. Along with promoting work hailing from these regions, its founder, Miguel Leal Rios, wants to demystify contemporary art from emerging geographies. R. Centro Cultural 15 porta 2, 1700-111 Lisboa
Opened in Lisbon last year on the ground floor of a crumbling XIX century building, Monitor is yet another international gallery outpost, this time from Rome. After having a branch in New York for two years, it has opened a permanent Lisbon space to work with Portuguese artists and tap into the emerging art scene. ‘This will be a more experimental gallery than the one in Rome,’ gallery director Paola Capata explains.
Rua Dom João V 17A, 1250-089 Lisboa
A trio of Portuguese art collectors opened Balcony Contemporary Art Gallery last year to introduce young artists such as Tiago Alexandre, Binelde Hyrcan, and Dealmeida Esilva to the contemporary art world. Director Pedro Magalhães says the decision to open a space was ‘aligned with a moment of optimist which gallerists currently feel in the art market’. R. Cel. Bento Roma 12A, 1700-165 Lisboa