Interview with Omer Tiroche

Can you tell us more about your background? How did you get to where you are?

I’ve been surrounded by art my entire life; my grandfather had galleries in Paris, Israel and the US, and my father had a gallery in Israel before moving to London and becoming a private dealer. Naturally, I took an interest from a young age, studying Art History in high school and then continuing it at university. It was during university however that my interest started to shift more towards the business side of the art world and less on the academics. In my second year of university I founded my company and a few months later I opened the gallery space on Conduit Street.

What gets you up in the morning? What drives you?

I’m not a big sleeper, so I’m often staying up late and waking up early to catch people that are still working on the other sides of the world. I would say that I’m most driven by the art itself, seeing and experiencing it, as well as preparing for exhibitions at the gallery and for art fairs. I always like to work on one or two research projects on the side for works that are in our collection, and the research keeps me constantly thinking of new avenues I can explore.

Top London Collectors

Tell us about your move away from private art dealing to opening a gallery space. What were the challenges?

Although I learnt a tremendous amount from private art dealing, I felt that there was something missing for me. As an art dealer, often you don’t get to fully experience the works as they end up sitting in storage and many deals are made based solely on images. Opening the gallery has allowed me to curate historical exhibitions that strengthen my connection to the artworks themselves and to make new connections with collectors and curators. As with most new companies, the initial challenges were financial. In my case, it was about wanting the business to be able to stand on its own while at the same time developing sustainable relationships with private individuals and institutions. One of my main goals is to exhibit in the “Magic Circle” of art fairs: Art Basel, Frieze, FIAC, etc. but gaining acceptance into these prestigious fairs is difficult; having a physical space that is open to the public and holding a certain amount of curated exhibitions per year are pre-requisites. This is something that I am constantly focusing on.

Your upcoming exhibition, Calder on Paper, looks fantastic. Can you tell us about your decision to exhibit Calder? What sets this exhibition apart?

Calder has always been dear to my heart. My father began collecting Calder works on paper in the 1980s when the works were barely selling for $10,000. We always had several in our house and for many years growing up I had one hanging above my bed. My father and I have supported Calder’s market throughout the years and have seen prices rise above $200,000. When the opportunity to collaborate with SALON at the Saatchi Gallery came about, there was no other artist I could have imagined exhibiting. Our collaboration is quite interesting as I will be exhibiting early works in my gallery and the later works will be shown at SALON. As far as I’m aware, such an approach has never before been explored in the U.K.

What would be your dream exhibition?

Quite an unusual one but in 1973 Gerhard Richter held an exhibition at the Seriaal Gallery in Holland where he painted a huge version of his Rot-Blau-Gelb series on small canvas panels arranged in a 10 by 10 grid. The overall dimensions were about 260cm high by 520cm wide. At a certain point I owned 8 of these panels, and my dream would be to bring together all 100 again. It will probably remain a dream though…

As gallery spaces move more into the online world, what are you doing to ensure you stay ahead of the curve? What technological advancements do you feel will impact the art world?

Apps such as Instagram and Artsy are helping people discover and experience art in a new way, which I think is great. There is also a strong online market for art, as people are becoming more and more comfortable buying works based solely on images and renderings. For the more expensive works however I feel like there is a glass ceiling on how much technology advancements can contribute as I don’t think that the experience of viewing an artwork in person will ever be replaced. Perhaps when new forms of imaging are developed we may be able to achieve the same experience, but who knows?

Your exhibitions demonstrate a keen interest in the avant-garde. What are your main influences as a gallery owner?

I’m not able to pinpoint my influences down to particular people or events. I take decisions based on my long-term goal for the gallery and the growth of the business. I do not represent emerging artists so I am not showing the avant-garde artists of today, but I am certainly paying attention to what was avant-garde at the time. Some of the artists whose works I have exhibited, such as Victor Vasarely and Niki de Saint Phalle, are in my opinion completely undervalued and I wanted to provide a platform to re-ignite their recognition. Others such as Picasso and Calder speak for themselves.