Opera Gallery unveils ‘Icons of Art’, an exhibition dedicated to the works of 20th century greats. Words Chanelle Tourish
Always dreamed of seeing iconic works of art up close? Well now you can – right here in Dubai. Opera Gallery debuts its first exhibition ‘Icons of Art’ from January Wednesday January 14 to Wednesday February 4.
The show is solely dedicated to contemporary masters who significantly influenced 20th century art. The exhibition depicts the various developments and major changes in art history through a display of 70 meticulously curated works from exemplary artists who forever changed how the world viewed art – think Picasso, Dalí, Matisse, Renoir. ‘The show will cover a lot of different styles from impressionism to lyrical abstraction using various techniques – oil on canvas, pen on paper, gouache and sculpture,’ says Sylvain P. Gaillard, General Manager, Opera Gallery.
‘I chose artists who are renowned for their craft and who left a strong mark in the history of art,’ Sylvain explains. ‘There’s an interesting common thread that links most of them, either because they were friends or because their style influenced the next generation of artists. Ultimately, it comes down to storytelling, and finding the right way to combine various styles in an elegant manner.’
Celebrated works from Andy Warhol and Alexander Calder will also be unveiled to illustrate the genius of impressionism, post-impressionism, fauvism, expressionism, cubism, futurism and other modern styles. ‘The show can be viewed as a great introduction to art. We are offering a unique opportunity to embark on a visual and cultural journey,’ Sylvain says.
‘A painting has the power to emotionally touch anybody, regardless of race, religion and social status, that’s probably the greatest thing about art. An exhibition like this should be enjoyed with a neutral state of mind. Whether it is the technique, the colours, the style or the story behind the artist, I encourage people to let go and take it all in.’
The exhibition not only highlights the developments in art as it relates to genres, mediums and expressions over the past century, but also considers the evolution and progression of cultures over time.
‘It’s a great opportunity to get up close and personal with artists that are very hard to come across. Over his lifetime, Picasso created more than 50,000 works, so stumbling across one of his creations is not uncommon. Being able to look closely at an oil on canvas from Renoir or Chagall is overall a thrilling, unique, and rewarding experience,’ says Sylvain.
Famed impressionist Renoir’s oil on canvas ‘Deux Filles Dans un Pré (Deux Femmes Dans L’Herbe) – 1910’, which was held in various private collections, will act as the focal point for the show.
‘Renoir is among the most famous impressionist artists in history. Besides his use of colours and very recognisable brushstroke, he was also one of the first artists to take the easel out of the studio and paint outside, which was rather uncommon at the time,’ Sylvain says. ‘He was a relentless artist, as he kept painting until his death, even if he was in a wheelchair and needed assistance for holding his brushes. This painting is a late Renoir, executed less than ten years before his death, but it retains all the artistic codes he became famous for.’
Buffet, who was one of the most notorious figures in 20th century Western art, produced ‘Tete de Clown’ in 1955. It will also appear in the exhibition. It’s a watercolour painting, gouache and India ink over pencil on paper affixed to board. ‘Buffet portrays a man dressed as a clown. Like many modernist and avant-garde artists, Buffet would return to the theme of the circus throughout his career,’ Gaillard says. ‘In this work, the figure has been rendered in the artist’s characteristic style. The lines are angular and sharp and have been drawn with an energetic hand. Nevertheless, there is a quiet melancholy to the clown. As is often the case with Buffet’s works, this powerful portrayal of the human subject is enveloped in despondency and existential angst.’
With other pieces on display including Warhol’s ‘Bald Eagle from Endangered Species (1983)’, Raoul Dufy’s ‘Nice Le Casino’ and ‘Circus Musicians’ by Botero, this is truly an unmissable exhibition.
‘Icons of Art’ is on until February 4. Opera Gallery, Gate Village 3, DIFC (04 323 0909).