09 Jun 2019
29 Mar 2020



Opening in June 2019, the exhibition Before Time Began will initiate the artistic project of Fondation Opale. The exhibition will feature works from the origins of contemporary Aboriginal art to the present day.

From 9 June 2019 to 29 March 2020, Fondation Opale will be presenting Before Time Began,its first major exhibition of contemporary Aboriginal art. A selection of nearly 80 major works — paintings on canvas and bark, installations and sculptures — will offer visitors insights into the evolution of contemporary Aboriginal art from its emergence in 1971 to the present day. Before Time Began honours the artistic creation of the most representative Aboriginal artists of our generation. The exhibition explores the notion of Dreaming in Aboriginal culture and highlights its relevance today.

Established in 2018, Fondation Opale, based in Lens, Canton of Valais (Switzerland), is the only contemporary art centre dedicated to the promotion of Aboriginal art in Europe. It strives to facilitate dialogue between peoples and cultures through art. The foundation is based on the Collection Bérengère Primat, one of the main collections of Australian Indigenous art in Eu- rope characterized by its commitment, diversity (nearly 250 artists) and richness (800 works).

Before Time Began has been curated by art historian and curator Georges Petitjean and by collector Bérengère Primat. The exhibition catalogue serves as a reference work on the his- tory and development of Aboriginal art. It includes contributions by several Australian Abo- riginal art specialists: Luke Scholes – curator at the Department of Aboriginal Art, Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory; Lisa Slade – Deputy Director of the Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide; Nici Cumpston – Artistic Director of the Tarnanthi Festival and herself a practising artist; Jessica De Largy Healy – anthropologist at the Laboratoire d’Eth- nologie et de Sociologie comparative (CNRS – Université Paris Nanterre).

Art as a vehicle for dialogue between cultures and peoples: Fondation Opale embodies this vision, which origins lie in the oldest continuous culture in the world, that of the Indigenous peoples of Australia.

In Before Time Began, this vocation is represented by Berg Elle, a work by Swiss artist Pipilotti Rist, and a metaphor for the equality of peoples and genders.

Indeed, Fondation Opale explores contemporary art along the lines of universal themes: the messages conveyed by these Aboriginal artists, men and women great Initiates, are addressed to each of us. They convey values that are essential and universal to humanity.

General information

Fondation Opale 
Route de Crans 1
1978 Lens


+41 274834610

Exhibition: 9 June 2019 – 29 March 2020, Wednesday to Sunday, 10am – 6pm.