Singing a Different Tune
The Opera Gallery has just opened in Lebanon and this isn’t only exciting because Beirut now joins its repertoire of influential art capitals (alongside Paris, London, Geneva, Monaco, New York, Miami, Singapore, Hong Kong, Seoul and Dubai) but also because of the calibre of American, European and Asian art this prestigious gallery brings with it. Unlike most other galleries which specialise in a particular form of art, or art from a certain period, this one has both the modern and the contemporary, the emerging and the established, not to mention 20th century Masters like Renoir and Matisse. It features works by world-class heavyweights such as Salvador Dalí, Pablo Picasso and Marc Chagall alongside Takashi Murakami, Andy Warhol and more recently, the graffiti artist, who goes by the name Seen. So, why Lebanon? It turns out that Georges Chalhoub, a passionate Lebanese art collector, had the idea to create a gallery space in Beirut in order to house his extensive collection and some of those works were acquired by Gilles Dyan, founder of the Opera Gallery. As Dyan tells us, “The decision to open Opera Gallery in Beirut [where you’ll find works ranging from 10,000 USD to 5 million USD] was simply because we have many Lebanese clients in our network and they requested we be present in this city. When my friend Georges Chalhoub contacted me to collaborate on this project, he had already booked an exceptional space in the downtown area. Of course, our response was very positive.” Dyan’s own foray into art was unconventional – though he did buy his first Miró at the age of 16 and plenty of eminent artists’ prints before he could afford anything more – he ended up working in marketing for ten years before deciding to pursue art dealing as a career at the age of 33. His big break came at the Singapore Art Fair in 1994, when he sold all his works in one foul swoop. He subsequently opened his first Opera Gallery there a few months later. And the rest is history.
Opera Gallery, Chafic El Wazzan Avenue, Beirut, Lebanon.