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Based in the Basque coastal city of San Sebastian (Donostia), Villa Magdalena was founded by curator and writer Cy Schnabel ((b. New York, 1993) in the fall of 2020. The gallery focuses on contemporary Spanish painting and also works with international mid career and emerging artists. The inaugural exhibition, Some Tendencies in Spanish Painting Now: Jorge Galindo, Alejandro Garmendia, Felicidad Moreno, Matías Sánchez celebrated the singular identities that inform the contemporary landscape of Spanish painting. Mie Yim: Mutants, the second exhibition held at Villa Magdalena, was the Korean-born New York based artist’s first solo exhibition in Spain and her first time showing outside of the United States in over a decade.


Central to Villa Magdalena’s exhibition program is the founder’s approach. His personal taste and understanding of art history determine what is shown. Each exhibition is the result of a consistent dialogue with the artists: the exploration of reoccurring themes, carefully selecting works, the meticulous design of the installation and of each press release, and the treatment of every possible detail that reduces the distance between the artist and the public constitute an essential aspect of the gallery’s vision. Villa Magdalena’s commitment to the long-term development of artists  is evident through a focus on storytelling and presenting compelling artistic narratives through each project that invite collectors, curators, and other art world professionals to participate in the nuanced understanding and discovery of certain artists. A large part of the program is dedicated to pictorial tendencies that lie between figuration and abstraction; painters whose mode of expression is situated within an ambiguous visual terrain impossible to define through established genres.

At the beginning of the Covid pandemic, Cy decided to return to his home in San Sebastian, where his maternal family is from. This city has singular Basque culture, a culinary status unrivaled in the world, and many diverse qualities, including the international film festival and jazz festival. Establishing the gallery in this city materialized out an urge to add a new layer. Creating a gallery with an international approach to complement the local art scene and offering a new dynamic space for local public, as well as global art audience. Perched in a residential neighborhood on the side of Monte Igueldo, facing the bay of La Concha, on a road with an uphill orientation, the exhibition space is situated at street level, while the house it is connected to sits above and behind it. The space -the shape of a somewhat narrow rectangle, 40 square meters with 7 meter tall ceilings- stands in stark contrast to the conventional white cube gallery.

Villa Magdalena | Gallery Space
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