Yeah, that’s the name. Share and smile. And no, it’s not a family fun center (or is it?) The name goes against everything you would expect from an art space in Barcelona. The space also goes against everything you would expect from an art space in Barcelona. It is completely refreshing. Its proprietor, Romain from Bretagne, is 31-years-old, ten years into Barcelona, and left a position managing 100 call-center operators to take over an old locale in La Ribera managing artists instead. The place is alive, and a mess. There’s paint everywhere (mostly spray), mini-murals and installations, collage on columns and a very decent photo expo, most of which is black and white printouts on A4. The fake ceiling has been ripped out and its aluminum frame stuffed into empty paint buckets to form a bamboo-like waste garden on the narrow back patio (walls also graced with Montana and Posca).
At any one time there may be six artists with little expos in four different areas, and there’s talent, for sure. I asked him how he makes a living. “I have to make it out of this now,” he answers. The enthusiasm is palpable, as is the innocent and genuine appreciation for the local artists that have already touched the gallery in some way. As a business, it’s a dice roll and a half. Romain’s entire everything is in the Smile and Share Project. There’s no investor, no plan b. But maybe this is the right thing at the right time in a city desperate for grassroots wavelengths of less pretentious and less traditional “art” and “gallery”. I would rather spend two hours in here than 10 minutes in most Barcelona galleries.