Emma Thomas gallery moves house

The formerly nomadic gallery settles into a new space

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A first exhibition in the brand new space: works by Nazareno
A first exhibition in the brand new space: works by Nazareno

Art openings are ten-a-penny in SP – there’s bubbly or beer to be had most nights of the week at vernissages across town. Less common are new gallery openings; but one Saturday late in October 2012, in post-rain sunshine under a still angry black sky, Emma Thomas, one of the youngest and edgiest of São Paulo galleries, opened its brand new, purpose-built space.

With six year’s work under its belt, the gallery had been a nomad until now, operating in a space off Rua Augusta for the first four years, before moving in with mighty Baró Galeria for a further two years. ‘Adriano Casanova, Baró’s director, was always a great supporter. He had curated a number of our shows,’ says Flaviana Bernardo, the gallery’s co-owner alongside Juliana Freire.

So when Baró moved into its huge space, a hangar-like building in Barra Funda, its owner, Maria Baró, invited Emma Thomas to share the space. ‘They had a huge group of collectors,’ says Bernardo, ‘and we had lots of young visitors and sympathisers, so each opening was a really interesting mixture of different publics. It was wonderful.’

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Galleristas Flaviana Bernardo and Juliana Freire

When Bernardo and Freire decided it was time to open their own space, they brought in the architects Marcelo Alvarenga and Felipe Hess, who had both previously worked for the master SP architect, Isay Weinfeld. The building they created features a striking facade made of perforated bricks, placed vertically to create a rough, lattice-like surface. Inside, a classic white-cube exhibition space leads up to a large office the gallery plans to share with other creatives, as a kind of hub. And right on top, a terrace, looking out over the treetops of leafy Jardins.

The gallery’s first show in its new home featured the delicate work, all wry pencil drawings and tiny sculptures, of the artist Nazareno. Other names on the roster include Alexandre Brandão, whose installations have a cerebral quality that detracts nothing from their beauty. Now, with a solid core of artists who have been with the gallery from the start, plus newer names like Chico Togni, Freire and Bernardo are preparing to head out in search of new talent, albeit not necessarily raw talent.

‘We want to bring in new artists who are as strong as the ones we have,’ says Bernardo, ‘who are already in interesting collections, or museums. It feels like we’ve moved up a notch,’ she laughs, ‘or possibly various.’

By Claire Rigby


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