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PROFILE: LONDON: BLOW DE LA BARRA
ELIZA WILLIAMS

BLOW de la Barra emerged on the gallery scene in London in June 2005, yet its youth is deceptive, for this is no experimental start-up but the coming together of two well-established art-world figures – Detmar Blow, previously a co-director of Modern Art, and independent curator Pablo León de la Barra. As such, the duo have shunned London’s east end, home to so many of the city’s recent arrivals, and settled instead in the heart of the west end, on Heddon Street, a small side street off Regent Street, famous for being the site where David Bowie was photographed for the Ziggy Stardust album cover.





Alongside its pop heritage, Heddon Street has been on the contemporary art circuit for some time, with Sadie Coles occupying the floor below Blow de la Barra and well-established galleries, including Stephen Friedman, Hauser & Wirth and Max Wigram, situated nearby. Blow de la Barra’s programme is similarly confident, with an emphasis on international artists, rather than just home-grown talent, and a desire to ‘examine the aesthetic issues that affect contemporary culture, including the legacy and influence of conceptual and pop art, and the relationship established between aesthetics, politics, society and economy’, according to its gallery statement. Its one specification is that the artists it exhibits have not previously had a solo exhibition in London. This incorporates some surprisingly well-established artists on the international circuit, including Ljubljani artist Marjetica Potrč, whose recent exhibition at the gallery coincided with the opening of a specially commissioned piece by the artist for the Curve Gallery at London’s Barbican. Both shows continue Potrč’s explorations of art as a social and political tool, with Blow de la Barra exhibiting a series of drawings by the artist that present alternative historical narratives to existing cities and encourage viewers to take responsibility for their own environments.





Other artists who have already appeared at the gallery include Matthieu Laurette, Stefan Brüggemann, Miltos Manetas and performance artists Los Super Elegantes. But if the programme alone isn’t enough to tempt you to visit, Blow de la Barra’s celebration of the frothier side of the art world may prove harder to resist. A section on the website entitled ‘society page’ catalogues the many artists, writers, and all-round beautiful people who have attended its openings, firmly reiterating that, besides the art, it is certainly a place to be seen.

ELIZA WILLIAMS IS A FREELANCE WRITER AND PROFILES EDITOR AT CONTEMPORARY

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