On the corner of Carrer d’Entença and Carrer Floridablanca, nestled between two unsuspecting businesses, lies Flash Gallery BCN; an intimate environment featuring exposed brick, wooden beams and floor-to-ceiling glass windows, all renovated from a shop that once sold birdcages.
Ready to welcome you is Linda Rice, a talented artist in her own right, offering events alongside her partner, David Correa, the owner and architect who redesigned the space entirely and turned his dream into a reality: providing a space to support local artists and create community around art.
Flash Gallery events
Flash Gallery hosts exhibitions from international artists. The next exhibition will take place on April 29th and 30th, where Irish painter Sile Walsh will feature her artwork.
Additionally, Linda recently started monthly Free Fridays to gather like-minded people to talk about art and share creative ideas. I was lucky enough to attend the second Free Friday event last week, where I listened to Anne Kearney talk about her recent paintings and the psychology behind them.
Artist Anne Kearney presents her artwork
Kearney’s art is psychologically connected to other domains (thanks to her background in cognitive science and environmental psychology), which allows viewers to relate to almost any element of her pieces as they reflect the human experience, more specifically, the theme of struggle.
Born and raised in the United States, Kearney and her family relocated to Ireland and afterwards to Barcelona, where she signed up for a life drawing class. At the end of her first session, a stranger peered over at her progress and said, “it’s a struggle.” Despite the offhandedness of the comment, Kearney realized that the stranger was right; painting, sketching, life, all of it is a struggle. She realized the struggle is what it’s about—whether it be the struggle to accept where you are from or the people that surround you—the struggle is what changes you for better or worse.
In the years following that first life drawing class, Kearney has mastered the depiction of the individual struggle. Her portraits capture what she had been thinking all along. Her inspiration stems from daily observations, such as an individual who would dress differently from one day to the next and molded her appearance and personality to whomever she was surrounded by. Kearney saw the struggle inside of her, the struggle of a young adult trying to be everyone at once, rather than whoever she was, underneath the layers of Sunday’s collared shirts and Friday’s fishnet tights.
Another source of inspiration? Construction sites. While most people dread turning the corner on the sidewalk to face a crude overhang, the piercing sound of a jackhammer and a building knocked down to the studs, Kearney sees something starting over with hints of a past life. The hints of orange and yellow in some of her portraits amidst the structural elements like netting, coverings, and scaffolding in the pieces pay homage to the construction sites that so perfectly reflect the human experience of constant renovation.
“We’re always emerging and submerging within ourselves, emerging and submerging,” said Kearney. This sentiment is the idea behind the portraits in her most recent collection. Kearney works in layers, using neutral colors like shades of gray, moody blues, touches of black with occasional pops of color like orange to create her portraits.
Kearney’s creative process
The process behind the finished pieces is equally as interesting as the inspiration behind them. Kearney uses a variety of materials, but most often plays with oils and wax to create layers upon layers in a single piece. “I work with lots of oils but also combine things that aren’t always meant to be combined,” said Kearney, which explains the use of materials like tar, wax and paper collage.
What I found most beautiful about Kearney’s art is that the process of creating the paintings reflect the emotions and stories behind the paintings themselves. The creation of oneself, but also the adding, creating, scraping, stripping back, tossing and smoothing of the human experience. There is a sense of history with the process of her work, where she goes back and forth in the ironic struggle to capture the feeling of the struggle itself.
Kearney also touched on the notion of a supportive but at the same time constraining environment, which can apply to a person, place, job, etc. She used galleries as an example, explaining how often galleries pick up a local artist and support their work by providing a space for them, but later down the line they limit the artists’ creative exploration if their style does not match the vision of the gallery.This is a great example of the supportive yet constricting outsider.
The beauty of the Flash Gallery BCN, and specifically Free Fridays, is that it allows artists to explain the meaning and process behind their work, which brings the artistic community closer together and allows for newcomers or novices to get their foot in the door. What is often thought of as a gatekeeping community, difficult to penetrate by outsiders, is made more accessible by people like Linda and David, who generously open their doors and lives to artists with a vision of sharing great art.
“Any viewer can come to see this art as something different and how you interpret it is all based on your own experiences,” said Linda. The gallery showings help artists think about, share and reflect on the bodies of their work, which is an empowering experience for everyone involved.
Kearney came to art through the love of making things, David established Flash Gallery for the love of sharing art, and Linda created Free Fridays to provide a space for artists and art lovers to share ideas and experiences. Put them together and you have the Flash Gallery experience- a welcoming space for the love of art. I recommend stopping by during one of their events, whether an artist yourself or like me, an admirer of art.
By Leah Pratley
About the author
Hello! I’m a student at the University of Oregon studying abroad in Barcelona for 8 weeks. I’m excited to be here and contribute to Frikifish, which allows me to explore the city and all of the incredible art it has to offer. I enjoy reading, writing, going to museums, and the beach. That being said, I couldn’t picture a better place than Barcelona. Hope you enjoy following along with me!