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Buades Gallery

We present a conversation between critic and curator María Escribano and Mercedes Buades.

The place that the Buades gallery (1973-2003) occupies in the genealogy of art galleries in Madrid is particularly hot, as it reflected the artistic evolution of the Spanish transition.

“I found myself in the right place, at the right time,” says Mercedes, who had the wisdom to choose Juan Manuel Bonet as director of programming, concentrating in her space a large part of the talent of her time.

In just a few years, the Madrid neo-figuration of Luis Gordillo, Carlos Alcolea, Guillermo Pérez Villalta, Carlos Franco, Manolo Quejido, Catalan conceptual artists, the new abstraction of Broto, Grau, Tena, the conceptual art of Alberto Corazón, Nacho Criado, Juan Navarro Baldeweg, foreign sculptors such as Adolfo Schlosser and Eva Lootz, and the works of Dis Berlín and Juan Ugalde all passed through her gallery.

Mercedes Buades understood the gallery space as a centre of culture that was not limited exclusively to the sale of artworks, and for this reason she hosted all kinds of projects and presentations related to literature, philosophy and music at a time when the gallery was the only space available for singular cultural activities.

As Chema Cobo describes in an article in El País, “Buades was a place for artistic encounters from various parts of Spain with absolute freedom. There was an alternative spirit but also a necessity, given the sense of tedium and weariness of the dictatorship, without having a definition against other artists. It was a strange cocktail of people, mostly university students, with information from travelling to international biennials, who practised a certain tension between figurative and abstract, but with the desire to get out of the dandruff of the dictatorship and aspire to an absolute cosmopolitanism”.

Mercedes and her partner Chiqui Abril also started the newspaper Buades, one of the leading publications of its time. The gallery’s archives were donated to the Patio Herreriano Museum, which dedicated an exhibition to her for her thirty years of work in 2008.

Buades is, in short, the refracted reflection of an era and a testimony to the extent to which the art gallery is a fundamental axis in the creation of art, thought and a platform for the cultivation and development of restless souls.

Mercedes Buades at the Basel art fair in 1989