ART IN QUARANTINE: WE PRESENT ESPACIO MÍNIMO, INTERNATIONAL CONTEMPORARY ART GALLERY IN MADRID
Within the context of the pandemic, at Arte al Día we thought of a new publication format to help keep artistic activity afloat. Today we present Espacio Mínimo, an international contemporary art gallery based in Madrid with 28 years of experience
Based on questions and threads postulated by the curator Max Hernández Calvo (Lima), the conversation we had with José Martínez Calvo, one of the gallery's directors along with Luis Valverde Espejo:
How do you decide to open a gallery?
Both Luis and I were interested in art before thinking about having a gallery. We both studied art at the university and I, being older, wrote since the early eighties of the last century about art in different publications and worked coordinating the visual arts exhibitions of the Autonomous Community of Murcia, the city where we lived then, and its Biennials of Painting and Sculpture. It was an interesting job because it had the means, the budget, the good spaces and the catalogs, but it was not always rewarding because many times I had to defend, due to political and institutional impositions, projects that I did not believe in or did not interest me. Tired of listening to my complaints, Luis told me one day that it was time to act on my own, to make my own mistakes instead of assuming the mistakes of others. Hence the idea of opening the gallery.
When you started as a gallery owner, what idea did you have of the art market?
At that time we really had no idea about the art market. What we were clear about was the art we wanted to defend and we had a lot of experience and knowledge of the artists, both from our immediate surroundings and from others, who were interested in us and why.
To what extent did that initial idea change compared to the reality of the gallery's day-to-day life and over the years?
About the functioning of the gallery and the art market we learned from day to day experience with practically no references. We had the clear idea that a gallery for us was not a space but a project that could be developed in any space. That is why we installed the gallery in a tiny cubicle of just over 12 square meters of exhibition space, hence our name, in the center of the city in which we lived then, Murcia, practically without any context that would serve as a reference, but where we wanted to develop a project that could have been located in any reference city for contemporary national and foreign art.
What milestone would you highlight in your experience as a gallery owner?
We believe that the most important thing for us is that we have 28 consecutive years of activity.
What criteria define your program as a gallery? What artists do you represent, what kind of art do you show, what kind of exhibitions do you organize, and what are the events in which you participate?
It is really difficult to answer when they ask us what defines our program or what is the criteria for choosing our artists. We can only answer that we are interested in art that talks about the issues, problems or situations that matter to us, make us raise questions, or worry us. And the artists we work with ask those same questions in their work, those with more consolidated careers such as Liliana Porter, Teresa Lanceta, Juan Luis Moraza and Ana Vidigal, those with intermediate careers like Bene Bergado, Miguel Ángel Gaüeca, Anne Berning , Maider López or Manu Muniategiandikoetxea, and even the youngest but equally interesting as Antonio Montalvo or Diana Larrea. These, and the rest of the artists we represent and others from other galleries with whom we collaborate, integrate our programming: five exhibitions per season, individual or collective projects developing a curatorial idea. In addition, we usually collaborate with museums and institutions, both public and private, Spanish and foreign, as a means of promoting their work and, since practically our beginnings, we have attended international contemporary art fairs around the world.
In the face of this global quarantine situation, what are you doing to keep your spirits up, the outreach activity, the commercial activity?
For now, being patient and strictly adhere to the confinement rules because there is little else we can do. We maintain continuous contact with artists, colleagues, curators, museums and collectors through social networks and email and little else.
What changes can this crisis generate in the functioning of the artistic scene?
We cannot predict them because we are not Cassandra and, if we were, they would not believe us like her either. We can only hope that they are not too negative and, any way they end up being, we hope we can adapt. Not in vain we have been 28 years in the business, something that is not very usual in our profession. Sometimes jokingly, when asked, we reply that we are made of cork and that it is difficult to sink us.
Galería de Arte Contemporáneo
Doctor Fourquet, 17
Madrid – 28012