Interview with Gallerist Omer Tiroche
Gallerist wunderkind Omer Tiroche is sending waves across the London art scene with his recently opened gallery in Mayfair. Born into the art world, Omer's father has worked as a private dealer in London for the past two decades and had previously founded the Tircohe Auction House in Israel, and his uncle is co-founder of the Tiroche DeLeon collection. The gallery, which only opened in 2015, is turning out an impressive collection of artists in its rebranding move into modern and contemporary art.
We spoke with Omer to find out more about the conception and execution of his gallery and his experiences so far amidst his Niki de Sainte Phalle exhibition.
See Omer Tiroche gallery's latest exhibition Picasso on Paper.
CM: Can you tell us more about your background in art?
In my family there is a long history of art; my father is an art dealer and his father was an art dealer too. Immersed in such an environment from a young age, and with frequent visits to galleries and museums, I took a natural interest in art.
I chose to study History of Art at secondary school and continued the subject through to university. During my first year of university, I found myself with a fair bit of free time so I went to work in my father’s office two days a week. I quickly became very involved in the business and I knew that the art world was where I would like to build my career.
CM: Can you tell us about your decision to move from private art dealing to opening a gallery?
As a private dealer you gain a lot of knowledge and understanding about the market, how it works, and what people are looking for. This was a crucial step for me to take but I felt that something was missing. Opening a gallery allowed me to have more of a creative input: curating exhibitions, exhibiting at art fairs, and having increased exposure to collectors and other dealers. I feel that having a physical gallery space is an essential factor for developing long-term relationships with clients and establishing myself as a brand.
CM: What were the biggest challenges you faced after first opening the gallery, and how did you overcome them?
As a new gallery, our biggest challenge has been bringing people through the doors. Being located on the first floor, it can be difficult to engage people passing by and we don’t receive as much footfall as one would with a ground floor space. As such, we have made participating in art fairs a fundamental aspect of the gallery’s business model and have participated in over 10 fairs since the gallery opened. An art fairs allows you to meet thousands of people all interested in art in the space of a few days, something that is impossible to achieve in any gallery around the world.
CM: Best "gallery moment" so far? And what is the most rewarding aspect of running your own gallery?
For me, it’s incredibly rewarding when I meet people for the first time and I am told that they have already been to the gallery or have heard good things about us. For an established dealer or gallerist this recognition is probably not as much of a consideration but as a new gallery, it is something very exciting for me.
CM: Can you tell us more about your Niki de Saint Palle exhibition and upcoming exhibitions?
Niki de Saint Phalle: Je Suis Une Vache Suisse is now showing until 10 September. I’ve been working with Helen Pheby of Yorkshire Sculpture Park who has helped curate the fantastic exhibition. We have brought together many works by Niki de Saint Phalle that have not previously been seen in a public exhibition and in doing so, gives significant insight into the work of one of the most important female artist of the 20th century. The exquisite menagerie of animal sculptures and works on paper in this exhibition, such as Gorilla (undated) and Monkey with Child (1995), share not only the artist's joyful engagement with the natural world but her major Noah's Ark project for the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo. These preparatory works, in particular, have never been seen in London. As for upcoming exhibitions… keep an eye out as we’ll be revealing this very soon!
CM: What sets your gallery apart?
We have an in-house French Bulldog!
CM: How are you adapting your gallery into the digital age? What are your views on online auctions?
As is common with galleries nowadays, we are quite active on Facebook and Instagram, as well as more art based outlets such as Artsy. However, with the digital age, I think there’s a risk of works becoming overexposed if they are available for everyone to view. Therefore, I like to keep my works discrete and the majority cannot be found online, even on my own website. This is less of a concern for galleries who are dealing directly with living artists whom they represent because for them, the more exposure and presence the artist’s works have the better.
Online auctions are great places to buy art and I actively purchase from the big online auction outlets, such as Christie’s and Paddle8. However, I think there is a plateau for how much people are willing to spend online, as many collectors would prefer to see a high-value work in person before parting with a large sum of money for it. Although online sales have shown significant growth in the past five years (previously, people were reluctant to spend more than £5,000 online now they are comfortable spending up to £25,000), these figures can’t compare to the results of the live auctions.
CM: Favourite artists/artist?
I can’t choose only one! Gun to my head I would have to say Calder and Picasso.
CM: Advice for artists seeking to be featured in a gallery?
Keep continuity in your work and keep it recognisable to you. In my opinion, collectors like to be able to distinguish an artists’ work, so if an artist is making two completely different bodies of work at the same this can be unfavorable for their market.
Photo © Omer Tiroche Gallery
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