Carlotta here, broadcasting live for you from Lisbon, where I am currently attending the contemporary art fair ARCOlisboa. And what better time to talk about Portuguese galleries and their Lisbon locations?
It is no secret that I loved Lisbon the very first time I got here, I have consistently talked about this city in many articles, as I find it an extremely fascinating place. Not only for its decadent and romantic vibes but because it also boosts an incredible art scene. The last time I was here, it was 2012 and I was visiting with a friend as part of a much longer tour of Portugal we gifted ourselves as our graduation trip. The city was still a bit rough and there were not many tourists around, but it was lovely just like its people.
This time around I found a city that is equally as charming as I remembered, despite the number of tourists having dramatically increased, to the point that it is almost as packed as Florence or Venice. Nonetheless, Lisbon is still an incredibly fascinating destination, and one I would highly recommend to every traveler, whether you like nature, art and culture, food, or you are just looking for a relaxing place to visit. That is, if you are not bothered by hills and uphill walks!
But since I already spoke about museums in Lisbon, this time I want to tackle galleries, especially considering how many I visited and had the pleasure to get introduced through at the fair. The gallery scene of Lisbon is vibrant, and the city is a haven for art lovers looking to discover local artists. The quality is really high and every gallery presents both national and international artists, making it really interesting for art lovers on the look for some lesser known artists.
To narrow down a little bit the impressive offer of galleries in Lisbon, I decided to pick for you 4 galleries I really love, plus one bonus for all of you FOMO-affected travelers like me.
Balcony Contemporary Art Gallery
Located north of the historical center of Lisbon, outside of the most touristy spots, Balcony Contemporary Art Gallery was founded in 2017, adding one more reference to the art map of Lisbon. It is hosted in an old store of Edifício América, transformed into a generous exhibition space with an area of over 220m2 with two floors, offering plenty of space for different exhibitions and activities at once.
The gallery exhibits primarily emerging artists, both Portuguese and foreign, with well-curated and bold exhibitions, offering a well-rounded insight into the offer Lisbon can grant in terms of contemporary art. In addition, the gallery participates in national and international art fairs, and also curates and promotes interdisciplinary projects outside of the gallery spaces, helping the artists gain visibility both on a local and international level.
They also have a smaller space, called LADO B, right next to the main gallery, where they host experimental projects, shows, and events. This space is only open on request, so visit the gallery first and ask them to take you to LADO B.
Balcony Contemporary Art Gallery
R. Cel. Bento Roma 12A, Lisboa
Info and opening hours: balcony.pt
Just a few steps north of Balcony Gallery, the second stop on our list is UMA LULIK__.
Founded by Miguel Leal Rios in 2017, the gallery focuses on the debate of contemporary culture and artistic practices. One of its goals is to contextualize Western artists with contemporary artistic production from emerging geographies such as Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and South America. To do so, the gallery represents Portuguese and foreign artists whose artistic practices cover a wide range of media, promoting them on an international scale with monographic and collective exhibitions, working with Portuguese and foreign curators, and participating in international art fairs.
A nice detail about the gallery concerns its name, as the gallerist explains. In East Timor, where he briefly lived as a child, “uma lulik” means sacred place, especially in ethnic Tetum, and is seen not only as a place to store sacred objects but also as a place for meetings and activities of traditional rituals. It is a symbol of the social unity of its inhabitants and of the community, and in this spirit, the gallery operates on the national and international panorama.
R. do Centro Cultural 17B, Lisboa
Info and opening hours: umalulikgallery.com
Moving to a completely different area, much closer to the center of Lisbon but still outside of the most touristy areas, NO·NO Gallery is another great stop on a gallery-hopping tour.
Originally founded as Acervo – Contemporary Art in 2016 by Luís Castanheira Loureiro and Ana Raquel Ruivo, it relocated and changed its name in 2020, moving to its current location in Estrela. Nowadays, through in-house exhibitions as well as their participation in international art fairs, the gallery’s program relies on the invitation of external curators and contributors, as well as other collaborations as vehicles for the exchange of contemporary artistic production. Working with both international and Portuguese artists, the gallery offers a varied program and interesting takes on the current discourse around contemporary art in the country.
Rua de, R. Santo António à Estrela 39A, Lisboa
Info and opening hours: www.no-no.pt
3+1 Arte Contemporânea
The last stop on this art gallery hopping tour of Lisbon is just steps away from the Botanical Garden and Museum of Science, in a nice and hip neighborhood. 3+1 Arte Contemporânea was first opened in February 2007 with the aim of promoting the work of emerging and established Portuguese and International artists, whose works illustrate the diversity of contemporary artistic practice. The presentation of contemporary International artists less known by the Portuguese public as well as that of emerging national talent, has been a formula that the gallery has nurtured over the years. The gallery is committed to its evolution and development, encouraging and supporting projects by its artists both in and outside of Portugal and focusing on the internationalization of its programming and participation in art fairs.
3+1 Arte Contemporânea
Largo Hintze Ribeiro 2E F, 1250-122 Lisboa, Portugal
Info and opening hours: 3m1arte.com
Bonus tip: Galerias Municipais
If you still haven’t had enough of galleries and artists, here is yet another very interesting project in Lisbon you should be checking out. It is, in fact, so interesting that it might require a proper dedicated article in the future, but some information here will do for the time being.
The project is called Galerias Municipais (Municipal Galleries) and comprises five spaces without a permanent collection: Pavilhão Branco, Galeria da Boavista, Torreão Nascente da Cordoaria Nacional, Galeria Quadrum and Galeria Avenida da Índia. Their mission is to enhance the artistic environment in the city and to reflect contemporary culture, giving priority to joint projects, and creating opportunities for dialogue between different representatives in the sector – local, regional, and international artists and curators, in different stages of their careers.
With a particular awareness of the historical and architectural heritage of each space, these spaces function as a widespread cultural center, that uses historical buildings to enrich the cultural offer of the city. All the venues, scattered around the city, have free entrance and they make a perfect addition to your gallery-hopping tour of Lisbon.
For all the information, exhibitions, and opening hours visit galeriasmunicipais.pt
Cover image courtesy of moi, all rights reserved