Contemporary Art Inevitably Embraces Decolonization Theme, Reflecting Cultural Interest

Contemporary Art Inevitably Embraces Decolonization Theme, Reflecting Cultural Interest

Manuel Segade, the director of the Reina Sofía, has expressed that the theme of decolonization is an unavoidable consideration in the realm of contemporary art. He also made it clear that it is purely coincidental that the Ministry of Culture has taken an interest in the same subject.

The director elaborated, “There is no doubt that it is purely serendipitous that the Ministry has developed an interest in the issues of colonial restitution. These are topics that simply cannot be ignored in the discussion of contemporary art. They are not only unavoidable because they are topical issues that artists themselves are focusing on, but they are also inescapable because they are integral to the very fabric of any museum in the present times.” He made these comments during the unveiling of the program for 2024. During this event, he disclosed that he had recently met with the Minister of Culture, Ernest Urtasun, and that they had discussed this particular issue.

Segade further commented that it is a misconception to think that museums suddenly become feminist or develop social or racial interests overnight. He pointed out that since the 1960s, contemporary art has been closely tied with the second wave of feminism as well as the most recent processes of decolonization of countries in the global south that were formerly under European control.

On the subject of decolonization, the Reina Sofía’s program for 2024 includes an exhibition titled ‘Device 92: can history be rewinded?’. This exhibition forms part of chapter 8 of the last presentation of the Collection. The Reina Sofía deems this exhibition important enough to reopen it, as it was previously only accessible for a few weeks due to technical issues with its opening license and accessibility adaptations. The reopening is scheduled to take place before ARCO, which is set to run from March 6 to 10.

The exhibition is dedicated to exploring critiques of colonial control and the impacts of imperialism, with a specific focus on Latin America. “The exhibition commences in Spain, then moves on to look at the Barcelona Olympics and Expo 92. It also examines the critical interpretations made by some artists about Spain’s history and the history of the northern countries,” Segade explained.


In relation to the budget set by the Ministry of Culture for acquiring works from the Museum at ARCO 2024, Segade revealed that this issue was discussed during his meeting with Urtasun. He also announced that the budget for this year will amount to 400,000 euros.

As for acquisitions, he stated that they will focus on pieces that are located in Spain and that belong to Spanish gallery owners. This is because, according to him, these individuals and their works currently need substantial support.


Segade shared details about the gallery’s programming, which includes equal representation from both genders, with five men and five women, half of whom are Spanish. He highlighted some of the main exhibitions, such as ‘The Practice of Art’, a retrospective of Antoni Tàpies that will be curated by Manuel Borja-Villel, who will be returning to the Reina Sofía after leaving in 2023.

“This exhibition is set to be one of the most extensive retrospectives on the painter. We are extremely proud to announce it and we hope that it will serve as a fitting tribute to Borja-Villel,” Segade added. The exhibition will take place in the Sabatini Building from February 20 to June 24.

The former director, Borja-Villel, will also be curating the exhibition ‘Opera to a black venus’, which will run from November 19 to March 31, 2025. This exhibition will focus on Grada Kilomba, who Segade described as “one of the key artists from the African diaspora.” He further added that “The exhibition uncovers some processes that often go unnoticed by Caucasians.”

The Reina Sofía will also host an exhibition dedicated to the painter Soledad Sevilla, which will be open from September 24 to March 10, 2025. The exhibition will feature around a hundred works, including current production, unknown series and other pieces made specifically for this exhibition.

“Sevilla is an essential figure in Spain’s contemporary art scene. This is going to be a particularly innovative project,” Segade commented. The Reina Sofía will also host an exhibition by Eva Lootz, who has donated part of her work to the museum. It will run from May 28 to September 2. “This is a necessary and logical tribute,” Segade concluded.

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