Chali-Rosso Gallery Director Oree Gianacopoulos’ voice reverberated through the West Galleria in the Oakridge Centre, inviting passersby to step into the makeshift gallery and observe some of Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dali’s authentic art.
The official entrance of the exhibition, a white portal with three identical triumphal arches, resembled the Arch of Constantine. Walking through this architectural design element, one might imagine themselves leaving the public space of a shopping mall and into the private sphere of European art.
Salvador Dali’s Surrealist Piano, a $1.2 million bronze sculpture, stood in the centre of the exhibition surrounded by other works like Dali’s Homage to Fashion and Picasso’s Grande Maternité.
One may find exhibiting valuable, authentic pieces of artwork — the least expensive being a few thousand dollars — in a shopping centre as an odd choice. Perhaps the location is unusual but for Gianacopoulos, having the exhibit in Oakridge was “the perfect marriage.” Shopping malls, she argued, are cultural centres. “While you’re here, why not get some culture?” she asked.
For Gianacopoulos, art is for everyone, not just buyers. “How do you know if you’re a buyer? How do you even know if you like art if you don’t come in [the gallery] and look?”
“It’s not just wealthy people that are allowed to appreciate art. It’s for everybody,” she said. “That’s one of the things that many gallery owners have forgotten is that art is for the people and [gallery owners] have to make it comfortable and available for people to come in.”
If Salvador Dali found surrealism as a sliver of a reflection of reality, believing that everything has dream qualities, then the exhibition was the perfect metaphor for the artist’s perception of the world. Walking away from the exhibit and leaving the West Galleria, one could hear the gradual fade of a pianists’ performance of “Over The Rainbow” — almost as if the exhibition itself had been something of a dream.
Meet the Masters at Oakridge Centre runs from September 21 to October 21.