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Opera Gallery Ushers In a New Page With a Fresh Spate of Shows—And a New CEO

Exterior of Opera Gallery London. Photography by Eva Herzog. All images courtesy of Opera Gallery.

Few galleries manage to make it to age 30. But Opera Gallery is not most galleries. Founded in Singapore in 1994 by the French art dealer Gilles Dyan, it has grown to 16 locations and counting. Last fall, the gallery opened an expanded London space on New Bond Street in Mayfair. It also took the substantial step of appointing its first CEO: the auction veteran Isabelle de la Bruyère. 

De la Bruyère previously served as Christie’s head of chairman’s office and client advisory for Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. While she intends to continue growing the secondary market business for which Opera is best known (its spaces are frequently populated by Warhols, Picassos, and other blue-chip masters), she also plans to invest in original exhibitions, primary market offerings, and cultural programming.

Portrait of Gilles Dyan and Isabelle de La Bruyère by Erik Lasalle Studio.

A representative example of the latter is the panel discussion “Three Days in Dakar,” which was held at the London gallery on Jan. 24. The panel, moderated by de la Bruyère, put British-Israeli artist and designer Ron Arad in conversation with longtime collectors of his work, auctioneer and curator Simon de Pury and philanthropist Rolf Sachs.

The panelists discussed Arad’s collaboration with Senegalese artisans, from metal workers to weavers, in Dakar. Most recently, his cross-cultural collaborations have led to a rework of his well-known The Big Easy armchair from 1988 using raw materials from oil drums sourced in Dakar. 

In New York, Opera put Sean Corcoran, a senior curator at The Museum of the City of New York, in conversation with NYU's clinical professor of visual arts administration, Melissa Rachleff Burtt, and the NYC Municipal Archives' Michael Lorenzini in a panel moderated by veteran New York art critic and curator Carlo McCormick. The talk surrounded the launch of the gallery's recent "Muses: The City & The Artist" exhibition, which highlighted work from Willem de Kooning, Shepard Fairey, Keith Haring, Mickalene Thomas, Kehinde Wiley, and more—examining the influence of the metropolis on the pieces produced by its resident creatives. 

Soon, Opera's New York outpost will play host to artist Jae Ko with "Changing Seasons" (March 15-April 14). The series of sculptural forms, crafted using paper and sumi ink, investigate the innate force and rhythm of nature through the lens of the constantly changing seasons. Prior to that, Opera is opening "Allegro" in Madrid (Feb. 29-April 13), Manolo Valdés's latest collection of paintings and sculpture, landing 18 years after his major 2006 retrospective at the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía.

Portrait of Manolo Valdés in his studio by Enrique Palacio.

Currently, the gallery’s offerings around the globe include the first solo exhibition in Spain of work by the British artist George Morton-Clark in Madrid (through Feb. 10) and a solo exhibition of French artist Jean-Charles Blais, known for his work with torn advertising posters, in Geneva (through Feb. 16). The sun never sets on Opera Gallery—and, as de La Bruyère noted in the Financial Times, the name itself was chosen because it is a word most languages have in common.