Carlos Martín-Peñasco

Almost a year ago, three friends, Sergio, Eloy and Goyo, materialized their combined talents into Swinton & Grant, a specialized bookstore with a cafe and an art gallery, located in a strategic enclave of Madrid’s cultural scene.

Ciudadano Grant, which combines to distinct and independent projects, was born from their passion for books and art. It is a bright and airy two-story space on Calle Miguel Servet, a few meters away from leading art institutions Tabacalera, La Casa Encendida and the Reina Sofia museum. “We put together everything we like,” Sergio explains while carrying boxes from one place to another, as they are preparing for a book presentation to be held this afternoon.

It has taken them eleven months to establish their projects as one of Madrid’s artistic benchmarks

The first project is called Ciudadano Grant and occupies the top floor. It is a bookshop specializing in urban art, comics, graphic novels and artist books. There is also a cafeteria with large glass windows that serves coffee, tea, homemade cakes (carrot cake is, once again, the most sought-after cake here) and salty snacks. A lovely girl who works at the cafe shows me one of the walls of the room called “the magnetic wall”, a magnetized space to showcase and promote the work of emerging artists who sent their work to the bookshop via email. The artist sets the price and takes all the money from the transaction. Ciudadano Grant also sells exclusive stationery, clothes and fanzines.

The Swinton Gallery is in the basement. It is a space of over 200 square meters divided into two multipurpose rooms that showcases national and international artistic projects. Sergio tells me that the exhibits change every five weeks and introduces me to the current two: Pablo S. Herrero and Antonio Felix, who, coincidentally, are partners in different initiatives at Tabacalera.

“Brave art, brave people” is the subtitle that these three friends used to define the spirit of Swinton & Grant, and no wonder: it has taken Sergio, Eloy and Goyo eleven months to establish their projects as one of Madrid’s artistic benchmarks. As the saying goes, “If you don’t ask, you don’t get.”