Ron Arad classics made by Dakar artisans on view in London

The work of Ron Arad is part of Opera Gallery’s ‘Untitled Rencontres’, on view until 7 January 2024

Ron Arad designs made by artisans in Dakar, at Opera Gallery, London
(Image credit: Eva Herzog Photography)

Opera Gallery is entering a new era with a new director and a new, double-fronted space on London’s New Bond Street, which has opened with a group exhibition, 'Untitled Rencontres', including new and classic works by designer Ron Arad.

A mix of versions of Big Easy, Quartet and Oh, the farmer and the cowman should be friends - whaaaa? are part of the influential designer’s display.

Ron Arad classics made in Dakar

Ron Arad designs made by artisans in Dakar

(Image credit: Eva Herzog Photography)

'I am filled with excitement for this show as it features artworks I have not seen in a long time and some that I have never touched before,' Arad said ahead of the show. 'Over the past year, I have dedicated myself to daily and intensive online collaboration with amazing artisans in Dakar, and I can’t wait to see and touch the artworks for real.'

The collaboration he is referring to is a reworking of his classic pieces by artisans in Dakar, made from used oil drums. Despite communicating remotely, Arad and the artisans collaborated intensely on these new pieces. The material, surprisingly thick, strong and comfortable, carries messages in these iterations of Big Easy and Oh, the farmer and the cowman should be friends - whaaaa? respectively renamed, Don’t Ya Tell Henri and America Made in Africa and the Salam Sofa for this instance. 

'When you work with any material, what you get is sort of a result of what the material in the process will do for you,' Arad told Wallpaper* over video chat. 'And [that’s true] if you look at the resin pieces that are in the shuffle… this stuff… the pigments, doing things that I can't take the full credit for, things that happen, and luckily, it’s mostly better than I deserve.'

Ron Arad designs made by artisans in Dakar

(Image credit: Eva Herzog Photography)

In the exhibition, we see three reworkings of the Big Easy, one in solid polished pigment-filled resin where the colour has been allowed to react with the resin, resulting in a smooth finish with organic interventions throughout the material. Arad – who in 2022 unveiled his first NFTs – likes this element of chance in the works, the elements that have a life of their own.

The show also includes some of Arad’s most famous works, such as Love Song, Quartet and The Thinker, and is a unique opportunity to see these with several preparatory sketches. 

Also on view at Opera Gallery is a show of masterworks, showcasing its inventory including Picasso, Miro and Niki de Saint Phalle, and a solo exhibition by contemporary painter Andy Denzler. 

Ron Arad designs made by artisans in Dakar

(Image credit: Eva Herzog Photography)

This New Bond Street space adds to Opera’s 15 other galleries, from Beirut to New York. The historic building is a 560 sq m Queen Anne-style townhouse that overlooks Medici Courtyard to the rear, where the gallery will show large-scale sculpture. 

'Untitled Rencontres' is on view until 7 January 2024

Opera Gallery
65-66 Bond St
London W1S 1RW

Amah-Rose Abrams is a British writer, editor and broadcaster covering arts and culture based in London. In her decade plus career she has covered and broken arts stories all over the world and has interviewed artists including Marina Abramovic, Nan Goldin, Ai Weiwei, Lubaina Himid and Herzog & de Meuron. She has also worked in content strategy and production.