Over tea on a rainy afternoon at Chali-Rosso art gallery on Howe Street, Susanna Strem of Chali-Rosso and Susan Nicol of Oakridge Centre are buzzing with excitement thanks to one man: Salvador Dalí.
Preparing to transform the way Vancouverites access great works of art, Chali-Rosso and Oakridge present “Definitely Dalí”⸺a public Salvador Dalí presentation in the heart of one of Vancouver’s most luxurious shopping destinations. Running now until Oct. 1, 2017, the exhibition means members of the public have the chance to admire Dalí’s original Dance of Time I, a seven-foot-tall bronze sculpture, and other works by the iconic artist.
The partnership between Chali-Rosso and Oakridge is what Strem describes as “too easy.” After meeting eight months ago, the common denominator for the gallery and the shopping centre was allowing a culturally diverse demographic to access Dalí’s brilliant works of art in a non-traditional atmosphere.
“For me, it’s the perfect match. Our shopping centre is not high fashion, it’s style. We represent style through fashion, through culture, through design, and through art,” Nicol, Oakridge’s general manager, explains. “We’ve done previous partnerships with the arts, but this is the first local. So, we’re really proud to have it because it is local and its very Vancouver.”
Having a grand exhibition at a mall my seem like a bizarre choice at first, but what Chali-Rosso and Oakridge are trying to do through Dalí’s work is redefine where art is showcased around the city, and prove that access to art can go beyond the gallery and museum, and even beyond the outdoor public plaza. “Salvador Dalí is such a celebrated artist. This is opening people up to things they probably haven’t seen before. We want to see people there, we want them speaking about it. It’s about that experience, and we’re delighted and honoured to have it,” Nicol says, adding that this initiative is apart of Oakridge’s redevelopment—one that says, “This is us, and this is what we’re going to do.”
When asked what shoppers who may be unfamiliar with Dalí’s legacy should expect before taking in the exhibition, Strem, owner of Chali-Rosso, slyly says, “I believe it doesn’t need to be explained.” Art speaks for itself and speaks to each individual, Strem continues in between sips of her black tea. “If you like the piece, you like it. If you don’t, you don’t. People develop their own relationship to the artwork.” What she can guarantee is that the Spanish surrealist artist’s pieces will trigger a reaction: “You either have a love or hate relationship with Dalí. He intrigues people, and that’s good.” The most important thing is not that viewers like the work—it’s that they take time to view it, think about it, and discuss it.
At the opening reception, guests sipped glasses of bubbly as they floated from piece to piece on the Dalí-inspired red carpet in the exhibition, housed just outside stores including Coach, DKNY, and Apple in the West Galleria. A Spanish guitar softly played as a group of patrons took a photo on the red lips sofa, an homage to the Mae West Lips Sofa that is part of the Dalí collection in Barcelona. The crux of the night came during the reveal of Dance of Time I, an original on loan from The Stratton Institution in Switzerland that was previously on display in downtown Vancouver. With $22 million worth of Dalí art here, shoppers are Oakridge are sure to come away with a lot more than a new pair of shoes.