NEW ORDER: BRITISH ART TODAY - Saatchi Gallery

  • What you’ve got to give Charles Saatchi is the consistency he has in his choice of art. It is a brand - there’s always an element of unsettling surprise, maybe a hint of disgust and certainly something that might just tip you over the edge and make you completely insane if you were having a bit of an off day - and this show, which is designed to showcase emerging artists, is no exception.

     

    Take the weird mini old lady’s head stuck into a huge ball of knitting by Wendy Mayer - this spooked me out as it’s about knee height and you look down and go woo! and your head spins - a classic Saatchi gallery experience. It’s good and a bit like Ron Mueck and others. 

     

     

    The there were some what appeared to be pretty paintings of people’s heads by an artist called Rafal Zawistowski. I couldn’t quite work out why these pretty paintings were here and then I looked at the title and realised all the heads were paintings of pope’s heads. Once again it’s that Saatchi thing where things aren’t quite what they seem.

     

     

    All the artists in the show were hanging about to chat to at the press view and it was fascinating to see how earnest and serious they are - they know that this is a real opportunity and they don’t want to mess it up - it’s a far cry from Van Gogh staggering around a field shooting himself and that’s a good thing.

     

    I chatted to the artist Amanda Doran who had painted a tattooed woman - Amanda was tattooed herself and was inspired by sub culture and things like Coney Island Circus performers - I liked the way she had painted the tattoos in the painting. Maybe a tattoo is a good symbol for Saatchi’s art - something that seems a little bit dangerous but is becoming accepted and fashionable.


     

    But within this Saatchi consistency there were also some quality quieter pieces that were a relief from the sensory shock. There were some simple and minimal 3D sculptures by Sara Barker that reminded me of 3D Ben Nicholson’s with lines shifting and interchanging.


     

    Then there were some genuinely very clever, what I assume were photos, by Alejandro Guijarro. These pictures of blackboards with technical scientific writing on them were neat as you had luxurious giant brushmarks made by the person rubbing out the working underneath - and then on the top of this was this fluid twirl of mathematics. They are like paintings.


     

    I also liked the imaginative set of paintings by Charlie Bingham - placed together it was good to see the way he’d found different ways of approaching the same painting.


     

    Then there was a film by Greta Alfaro where a table was laden with food and wine in what appeared to be a vineyard. Nothing happens for a while apart from a few pretty birds sailing by - then these birds turn out to be vultures and like 50 of them rip the table to pieces.


     

    Once again a nice Saatchi metaphor - it all seems OK and them something rips it all to pieces.

     

    The question is who is the real artist - is it Saatchi with his eye for picking things that consistently fit into his unettling oeuvre - or is it the artists themselves?

     

    Review by Robert Dunt - artist and Founder ArtTop10.com - www.robertdunt.com