Words: Sheona Mountford
Are you looking to soak up a little arts & culture in Barcelona? In that case, forget the Picasso Museum or Gaudi's house. Instead, we recommend visiting Barcelona's Moco Museum, containing must-see art for those seeking a varied and surprisingly soothing gallery experience.
The Moco Museum is an independent gallery whose doors opened in Amsterdam in 2016, showcasing leading modern artists and its rising stars. Following this success, a second gallery opened in Barcelona, finding its home in an old 16th-century palazzo along Carrer de Montcada. Moco's main aim is to make art accessible, and you certainly get that feeling when walking around its gently perfumed interior, filled with art from creators worldwide.
Moco refuses to be old and stuffy and is geared towards everyone rather than a niche selection of art experts. Within the Moco Museum, you will find something for you, whether you enjoy contemporary works or know nothing about art. Whilst Moco boasts Banksy, Keith Haring, Damien Hirst and many more masters of modern art, there are hidden gems to discover during your visit. Here are our top 5 artists and their exhibitions we recommend checking out in Barcelona.
David LaChapelle, an American photographer, music video and film director, references art history with his take on Leonardo Da Vinci's 'The Last Supper' with his unmissable collection of photos 'Jesus is My Homeboy'. The primary photograph displayed at Moco, 'The Last Supper,' depicts the biblical story as if told today.
Jesus and his disciples, who were misfits transcending the norms of society, are given a modern revamp. LaChapelle depicts individuals of multiple ethnicities typically ostracised by society, indicated by their clothing and setting. It is a stunning visual retelling of the biblical tale, equally captivating as Da Vinci's original work. With this photograph, LaChapelle challenges our modern assumptions of who should be the subject of artwork and celebrates those from all walks of life.
Photo: Tattoo Life
This artist struck me the most when visiting the Moco Museum due to the unique yet fantastical settings he creates in his paintings. Chilean-born, his works are composed of classical oils and echo some of the greatest works in art history.
Each painting of Lorca's displayed at Moco captures the essence of the Rococo style using pastel hues that are irresistible to the eye. Yet the subject of these portraits is entirely original to his imagination, juxtaposing the classical style with the almost photographic detail in which he depicts women and the creatures that give his pieces colour and life.
Photo: Architectural Digest
Kaws creates cartoon delights guaranteed to make you smile. The poster boy of Moco Barcelona, you will find the American artist's sculpture 'Final Days' as soon as you enter the gallery, a figure colossal in stature and reminiscent of the Smurfs.
As you explore the Moco Museum, you will find a room dedicated to Kaws, from 2D prints of Spongebob Squarepants characters to a chair of Snoopy teddies. So if offbeat cartoon-ish sculptures are your thing, this exhibition is for you!
Photo: Brooklyn Museum
Known for his naturalistic portraits of Black sitters as famous as former US President Barack Obama, Kehinde Wiley produces striking portrayals of his sitters, proudly showcasing them. You will be drawn immediately to his work due to the vivid backgrounds of ornate colours that frame the subjects to ensure they are at the forefront of the eye.
He gives the sitters of his portraits an almost regal quality through the rich textures he paints. Whether that is the subject's clothing or the natural botanical backgrounds, the detail is immense on closer inspection of his work.
Photo: Studio Irma
Finally, Studio Irma's immersive art installation is ideal for those of you looking for pictures to fill up your Instagram. Borrowing from Yayoi Kusama, Irma's 'Diamond Matrix' allows visitors to walk through a light installation in a mirrored room, playing on illusions and changing colours creating a multi-sensory experience.
The Dutch Studio Irma is a team of artists who combine digital techniques, painting, computer animation, and more to create unforgettable immersive encounters. Therefore, if you are bored by traditional galleries, the Moco Museum Barcelona offers a fresh alternative with Studio Irma- the perfect way to round off a trip to an original and provoking modern art gallery.