In conversation with Las Palmas

Las Palmas is an artist-run space founded and based in Lisbon in 2017 by artists Aires de Gameiro, Hugo Gomes, Nuno Ferreira and Pedro Cabrita Paiva.

Characterized by its pink walls, the project space aims at showing and experimenting with a new generation of both national and international artists.

The program has been so far developed in the contingency of a very transitory situation due to the duration of their agreement with the landlord’s apartment which was in the neighborhood of Bica (in the center of Lisbon). This condition affected the exhibition program: a concise rhythm of biweekly shows.

In the new space, that will open next September in a different neighborhood, the strategy will change by re-thinking the rhythm of the exhibition program and the relationship with the public.


Nuno Ferreira, Everest, Exhibition view, 2017

Nuno Ferreira, Everest, Exhibition view, Las Palmas, 2017


Claudio Zecchi: Less then one year ago you – Aires de Gameiro, Hugo Gomes, Nuno Ferreira and Pedro Cabrita Paiva – founded Las Palmas as an artist-run space in the very heart of Lisbon (the neighborhood of Bica). Apart from this technical definition, what is Las Palmas?

Las Palmas: Las Palmas is a space for experimentation in the field of visual arts. Our goal is to produce uncanny exhibitions in the Lisbon art scene, presenting works by artists who, for several reasons, aren’t usually showcased in the main art circuits. The project is the result of long discussions among us, regarding the almost non-existing presence of independent art spaces in the city. With independent art spaces, we mean those spaces that don’t necessarily need to live under the pressure of the market; spaces that take risks, as a characteristic per se. We founded Las Palmas with the aim of being that kind of space.

C.Z.: If on the one hand you open Las Palmas under such favorable contingencies – you basically had the chance to run the space for free for almost one year – on the other hand you had to constantly engage with a temporary perspective of the project (you closed the deal for a different space in another neighborhood only a few days ago). What meant for you being temporary? What was your strategy in order to deal with that? 

L.P.: We mainly kicked off the project in that building in the neighborhood of Bica (in the very center of Lisbon) for a very simple reason: it was a great opportunity to have a free space. However, we also knew that our permanence there wouldn’t last for long: the building was in fact for sale and we had June (or even earlier) as deadline. Our strategy for this precarious situation was to produce short-term exhibitions that could fulfill two objectives: on the one hand, trying to make the most of the time we had, by showing a consistent number of artists in a relatively short period of time (7 months); on the other hand, if we had to suddenly leave the space (what in fact happened) the impact on the show could be reduced – since the exhibitions lasted for an average of two weeks, it was easier to ensure continuity until the end.

The decision was made in the perspective of accelerating the rhythm that nurtured the entire program, by leaving a shorter time between the production of different shows, thus, of course, challenging the public to follow the program.


Rowena Harris, Thinking Feeling, Feeling Thinking, Exhibition view, 2018

Rowena Harris, Thinking Feeling, Feeling Thinking, Exhibition view, Las Palmas, 2018


C.Z.: Lisbon is a city with a vibrant cultural life. Which are the needs that push you to be engaged with the city with a project like Las Palmas? Do you think the city still leaves margins of experimentation?

L.P.: Lisbon’s art scene has been growing quite a lot in recent years with the presence of many new galleries (also international). This has to be considered in parallel with the massive boost of tourism that the city is witnessing. What drives us is precisely the idea of filling those margins of experimentation, that still exist, by showing fresh work and by supporting innovative approaches to contemporary art. This attitude is defining our relation with the cultural environment of Lisbon, as we feel that there is a gap between the galleries and museums circuit (the dominant discourse) and other still hidden and under-represented approaches that we catch-up with, in our daily routine as artists.

We feel that one of the main reasons for Las Palmas to exist is the willingness to fill that gap.

C.Z.: You just closed the deal for a new space. What changed now that you’re facing a medium/long-term project ? How will this affect the program and your attitude towards it?

L.P.: With this new space, which we have secured for at least one year, we will have a different approach. We are looking to make each show last longer – around three weeks or so – and to widen the break in between them. We are interested in working closer to other artists, exchanging ideas, installing the exhibition together – and that is a process that takes time. The public will thus have a longer period of time to come, see and experience the shows, indeed engaging the artwork in a different way.


primeira desordem, The cheapest way can't buy me love, Exhibition view, 2018

primeira desordem, The cheapest way can’t buy me love, Exhibition view, Las Palmas, 2018

primeira desordem, The cheapest way can't buy me love, press release

primeira desordem, The cheapest way can’t buy me love, press release


C.Z.: The first thing one sees when they enter the space are the pink walls. Can you explain? Will the color pink be part of your new space as well? What were the artists’ reactions?

L.P.: We would say that there were many ideas behind the color pink. One of them, and maybe the most important, is exactly what you just said – first thing one sees when entering the space are the pink walls – which changes the artwork perception. This idea is very important to us, as we consider it a new possible approach to an art exhibition. As soon as the viewers enter the room, they see the show as a whole and, perhaps, the whole experience of seeing the exhibition will change. Every piece in the show is connected, the viewer won’t look at each piece (whether it is painting, sculpture, video, drawing, and so on) singularly, with blank spaces in between – which we felt is what happens in a white cube, where it’s like looking at a catalog. And since we’re not a commercial gallery, we don’t have any standards to follow, which is also something that moved us from the early beginning. We don’t know if the pink walls will always be part of Las Palmas, but we can’t see it any other way for now. So yes, the new space will be painted in the same color.

The reactions have been so far really good. We think that every artist likes to be challenged and every one that we invited liked the idea to put on a show for that specific background. We also had an artist that said “it was a dream come true” when asked to exhibit in a pink space.

C.Z.: You curate the program but also exhibit at Las Palmas as artists. Why? Are you going to exhibit again?

L.P.: Our aim was to integrate the program with our presence as artists because we actually are in the same position as other young artists in Lisbon. We are in fact experiencing the same difficulties to find a place to show our work. We didn’t want to be that hypocrite and pretend that Las Palmas wasn’t a great opportunity for ourselves as well. It definitely is and we want to take it accepting the same challenge that we proposed to all the artists we have so far invited.

As he has been the only one who didn’t exhibit his work so far, Pedro Cabrita Paiva – one of the co-founders – will have a solo show at Las Palmas.

For the future, we don’t actually know if we will exhibit again as artists.


Aires de Gameiro, Kinema #1, Spray paint on printed plastic cover mounted on wood with engine, 124 x 15 x 62 cm, 2018

Aires de Gameiro, Kinema #1, Spray paint on printed plastic cover mounted on wood with engine, 124 x 15 x 62 cm, Las Palmas, 2018


C.Z.: You only work on solo shows. Are you going to open your space to group shows as well? Are you thinking to include other curators in the program?

L.P.: Actually, our first show was a group show with two Portuguese artists: Manuel Tainha and Samuel Duarte. After that, we only produced solo exhibitions, as we felt that focusing on a single body of work would have put the artist in a better position to experiment. Nevertheless, there is the possibility to do more group shows.

Although not in the proper sense of terms, the relationship with other young curators has been to some extent initiated by inviting them to write a text on the works exhibited. On top of this, and to avoid creating any misunderstanding, we don’t consider or see ourselves in the position of curators.

But yes, we are always open to challenging proposals.


Daisy Parris, Poem, press release, 2018

Daisy Parris, Poem, press release, 2018


More info about Las Palmas:

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by Claudio Zecchi
in Focus on Europe

Wed Development by Digital Art Factory