Sunday, 13 December 2009

Saatchi - new Abstract America & Old People's Home

Saturday was my visit to the new Saatchi Gallery in Chelsea. New because I have not visited the Saatchi since its move to King's Road. I have to say Saatchi's new home for contemporary art is a much nicer venue (a 70 000 sq. feet Duke of York HQ) than the old one.
Even though the Saatchi Gallery isn't one of my most frequently-visited art spaces in London, the gallery offers something different to the Tate--- It has done a good job in promoting contemporary art works made by unseen young artists or international artists whose work has rarely been seen or exhibited in the UK. I like that the space isn't too overwhelming with the amount of work you can see... more so what is expected of a gallery. Tate should be call a "museum".

Currently the Gallery has an exhibition on new works by American artists called Abstract America: New paintings and sculpture, apparently a new wave of American art. It left more impressions on me than I thought... Some individual works were quite interesting. But is the exhibition supposed to represent new American sentiments? If it  is then I certainly don't know what those sentiments are?(I didn't even bothered reading the catalogue. By experience I have come up with the solution to enjoy the art as it is without subject to interpretation and see what sticks... then seek background info later). This exhibition is more like a collection of new works with absolutely no common theme but shows little versatility.
My favourite in order of appearance
Kristin Baker was by far my favourite. She made a series of paintings using acrylic on PVC and woh it was effective. You can recognize immediately that she's influenced by the Italian Futurism movements. Viewing her paintings immediately took me back to an earlier exhibition at Tate Modern on Futurism, one that I rather enjoyed. Had I known earlier that you can take pictures of the works at Saatchi, I would have taken photos of all her work. Kristin's art is rich in so colours and movements; the effect of paint  creates on PVC is so effective.... her subjects change from flashing lights and cars to the raft of Perseus.  It was wonderfully exciting to see her works... thoughtful, imaginative and definitely art.

The raft of Perseus
Acrylic on PVC
I also like a work by sculptor Peter Coffin. His large spiral staircase shaped into a circle was delightful and beautiful to look at. My art loving friend managed to sneak a photo... I also like the shadow effect in this picture. Isn't it interesting? Imagine yourself walking on one of those but not knowing you indefinitely will be going round and round... Art &something larger than the aesthetic beauty of a normal spiral staircase.

Untitled (Spiral Staircase)
Aluminum and steel
Matt Johnson is another sculpture whose work and the medium he used to make them are rather versatile. He made a scuplture called Malus Sieversii, yes it is exactly what it says. A life-size sculpture of a eaten apple... from a far. When you come close you will notice the staircase spiralling up around the core. So cute... Though I guess that was not what the artist intended to say! And very cool. Johnson also produced a life-sized blue tarpaulin sculptor of a pianist playing away at a grand piano. Very experimental indeed.

Malus Sieversii
Carved maple and acrylic paint

The work I displayed at the beginning of the post is by Stephen G Rhodes called Ssspecific Object (made of rubber). I liked it because it somehow reminds me of my favourite book "the Little Prince". Yes, the part with the boa constrictor digesting an elephant or as adult would say "it's a hat". In this case more it is more like digesting Pandorra's box. I don't think the artist's intention is inspired by "The Little Prince" but art is also subject to individual interpretation.
There were also some weird works, for example a photo of a woman spraying her pubic hair orange in an art work called "Spray bush". It doesn't even make you think apart from uttering "Huh?" I'm sorry but I don't remember the artist's name but I really wasn't impressed. And many I don't remember... (sorry artists :()

The most fun installation in the gallery was the room dedicated to new Chinese art. It was called "Old People's home' by the artist Sun Yuan and Peng Yu. 13 life-size old gentlemen moving aimlessly about in electric wheelchairs. You would start by laughing because it was just so much fun to see them interacting in their own space. Then you really see these men withering away by time... half asleep, half drunk... Old age is the same for everyone whether your a war hero or a rabbi... It made you a bit sad and more thoughtful. People were standing on the balcony looking down, watching these guys going back and forth. Some came down to "interact". The idea was there, it was fun to watch and feel something.


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