Galloire is the first gallery in the Middle East to use virtual reality and augmented reality to create a completely online exhibition for you to peruse regardless of your location. Born from a life of passion for art and years as collectors, Galloire works within the world of modern and contemporary art to bring the best international talent to the Middle East and make their work available locally. Galloire’s ongoing exhibition programme will offer art collectors access to works from major international artists not currently exhibiting in the Middle East. We spoke with its founder and art collector Edward Gallagher about business with art and art in business.

Edward Gallagher has been an avid art collector and dealer in the contemporary art market for the last six years. He is now pleased to make that passion his full-time occupation with the launch of Galloire. Prior to Galloire, he spent eight years in the Middle East working as a Managing Director, overseeing all aspects of the growth and success for a global events infrastructure business and latterly a FTSE 250 professional services business.

What is your background in art and what inspired you to start your own art gallery?

I’ve been collecting contemporary art for around five years seriously and although I live in a global hub and a city where you can find most things, I just found that all of the big international artists I was collecting weren’t here. In turn, I was constantly buying from London, New York, Hong Kong and so on, but nobody was exhibiting or supplying work by artists I wanted to collect locally. One of the focusses for us is thus to make that art available here in the region, so whether you’re looking to collect blue-chip Hirst, Hockney, Warhol or to see new exciting exhibitions of original work from established international artists, then Galloire is the place you can come and do that.

How can you define  the Dubai art scene and what is missing in your opinion?

What has been built up over the years by amazing gallerists, artists and with full commitment to culture and art by the government is outstanding. The UAE has two superb, well-respected art fairs and I admire those who have been building the foundations and ecosystem well before Galloire existed. However, we also feel that art is for everyone and there are a large number of people dis-connected from the art scene who could be welcomed by it. In turn, one of our core missions is bringing a wider audience to contemporary art – whether you buy work or just come to experience it, you don’t have to “know” anything about art: We would like to see a much larger portion of society here to engage with art and feel they can collect it. If you compare us to other major cities, it feels like there are a lot more people going to experience art, museums and culture every week elsewhere and we want to be part of the growth of that becoming more of a social normality here in Dubai, the UAE and the region.

How do you plan to stand out from the competition as more and more galleries are opening?

It’s great to see more galleries opening: As I said previously, that growth of cultural interest and momentum around art will take many of us driving that forward to make art engaging and accessible for more people. Certainly what we are doing is very different from anyone else today, with the artists we focus on, our blend of physical and digital and I believe our energy as a gallery. What I mean by our energy is that when you come to Galloire, your experience should be much more warm and engaging than perhaps you would associate with your traditional “white cube” gallery. Are our walls white? Sure (at least for this first exhibition), but we feel you’ll learn a lot more about the artists and be a lot more engaged by your journey through our exhibition than the ones we can all think of which are a little more old-fashioned, sterile and perhaps a little intimidating. That approach is something we’re committed to and we’ll continue to work on to improve month by month.

Galloire is said to merge the physical and the digital together, how exactly do you do that?

We strongly believe in the egalitarian nature of art exhibited digitally – it gives wider reach, more people can see and experience that exhibition, if you can access the internet you can see great art. So, digital is very important for us in respect of hitting our goal of art for all and of broadening the reach of contemporary art. To give you an example, our first exhibition (before having our physical gallery) was delivered in full photo-realistic VR and with AR [Augmented Reality] so you could take any artwork and hang it in your house to see how it looked. We had over 27,000 unique visitors from the GCC come and spend good time looking around that exhibition: That just isn’t something you would get if you were just sat in your white box gallery waiting for people to come in. That is superb for our artists in terms of exposure and great for people in the region: As an example you live in Saudi Arabia and you can’t fly in to see us in Dubai, why shouldn’t you be able to see (in a very high quality way) an amazing art exhibition? So that’s one reason digital and physical integration is important to us.

The second, is that we are working with some of the best digital artists in the world and will be exhibiting their work. We are passionate about breaking down the barriers between physical art and digital art – we respect a painter’s skill as much as someone who creates with a computer. So we’re very excited to reveal some more about that in the coming weeks and months.

What type of art and artists do you focus on?

We’re aiming to bring a broad range of leading names to the region, so people who come to our exhibitions will not only get a real taste of global art leaders, but they’ll also be able to collect a broad range of work. We’re working with urban artists who have moved into the fine art gallery, with artists who work in physical and digital art (and in-between) and with some outstanding conceptual artists. We’ll be exhibiting work in physical and digital forms, we’ll be showing sculpture, painting and more. That breadth, I believe, is part of the appeal, so that one month the exhibition may not be for you, but next month it’s definitely worth visiting as it may be something very different.

Is art a good way to invest?

It’s one of the ways you get to invest two-fold – in yourself, your own energy and spirit as well as financially. Whilst I had always had some sort of “art” on my walls, I originally started collecting established and blue chip artists as a way to diversify my investment portfolio – lots of people reading this will have property, stocks, crypto-currency and maybe some other assets such as wine. Growth in the contemporary art market has outstripped all of those (with exception of cyrpto-currency) consistently for the last 20 years, so it absolutely is a great way to invest and you shouldn’t be without it. The amazing and oft-underestimated additional value is that you get to live with these incredible pieces on your walls and in your life. You aren’t going to hang your share certificates on your wall and get any joy out of them, you aren’t going to frame your crypto-wallet, but I still get stopped dead by some of my artwork at home some days and just take a moment, study it, reflect upon it and get deep pleasure from it.

What is your personal take as a collector on NFT’s and Crypto art?

I believe that talented artists are talented artists, however they create, so deserve equal respect. In turn I have a great admiration for those creating in the digital space and own an ever-growing collection of digital art (mostly as NFTs). The collector community around NFTs is a vibrant, energetic and warm one, so I’d encourage people to be involved in the space, but it is very different to the traditional art world, so there’s not always a huge cross-over. For me, I love that art in digital form creates certain creative opportunities not possible with more traditional mediums – whether it be that it streams live data, like the fantastic Daniel Canogar’s work, or that it can evolve over time like Beeple’s work Human One which went under the hammer in early November at Christie’s – that’s very exciting for me as a collector.

What are tips to beginner collectors?

I would say just put some money to one side and take action, make the step. Start with something blue-chip or from a very well established artist – then you can buy with confidence. Limited edition prints and editions are an excellent way to give people access to these artists, so perhaps start small and start there: You can buy a Damien Hirst from us for as little as a few thousand dollars for example – it’s not as expensive as you may at first think. The other critical thing is only buy work you love: Don’t be talked into something you don’t really like because someone tells you the artist is “up and coming” or is going to be a great investment. If you buy work you love, that speaks to you and that inspires you, regardless of how well it does financially, you’ll never be disappointed.

When are you opening the physical space?

We’re going to be open in early December, so very excited to welcome people in person to our new home. If you follow us @galloireart on Instagram, you’ll be able to see all the updates there.

Could you tell us more about the upcoming art exhibition “Kid”?

Since Lichtenstein using his comic-book style and Warhol leveraging iconic cartoon and popular fictional figures (in his Myths series for example), artists have been using cartoon and comic imagery to cross the low-high art divide, making their art relatable and engaging to a wider audience. With Kid, we are exploring contemporary artists who today continue that approach, but who, in doing so, address a wider issue or make comment on society, commerciality, war or other topics.

These artists, sometimes with biting satire and at other times with more subtle playfulness, use these characters to create some sort of tension within the viewer, they appropriate and utilise these characters for their own devices. We have work from the incredible satirical and surrealist Spanish painter Paco Pomet through to iconic work from Matt Gondek who is coming off the back of a sell-out LA show. We’re really excited to open the exhibition to the public and let people experience the work of these great artists in person, most likely for the first time.

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