It’s quite a sight: refurbished into the sort of airy, grey post-modernity that many associate with offices in the City of London, somehow among all these gantries and glass, one of the world’s most respected (and international) galleries has set up shop.
Opera Gallery, stretched across two floors, and an ominously named Black Room dedicated to the 50 great masters on their roster – and including works by Picasso, Renoir, Max Ernst and Monet – was set up at the start of November in DIFC. It is the gallery’s 10th international site. Among the contemporary collection are works by Columbian artist Fernando Botero – whose exaggerated, vitalised bodies will be of the gallery’s South American focus show on January 22 – and works by Chinese artist Feng Zheng Jie.
‘We’re trying to bring the rest of the world to the Middle East,’ says Bertrand Epaud, manager of the Dubai Opera Gallery, referring to the huge batch of contemporary Chinese, Korean and European artists packed into the space. ‘You won’t see any Middle Eastern artists in the Dubai gallery. We were getting so many of our Middle Eastern collectors coming to London and asking, “Why don’t you come closer?” So we did. We’re trying to use this Dubai base to send Middle Eastern art that we find to our other galleries, in New York, Seoul and beyond.’
Cuadro (top) is another newly-opened gallery in DIFC does display a selection of top regional artists. Here, A. Rahim Sharif displays his slightly Bacon-esque distortions, which the artist has refined into a series of hard-faced portraits, while Armenian artist Yuri Gevorgian’s distinctly Cubist pieces have an elemental and pastoral harmony. We’re told it’s the largest gallery in the Middle East, housing a lecture hall and screening room. Well worth heading over for, are the results of the Lahza project, which gave 500 disposable cameras to Palestinian refugee children in Lebanon and asked them to take photographs of life around them.