British Art Now – Saatchi Gallery

Apologies for the lack of posts lately…life has been hectic. I have however, been lucky enough to squeeze in visits to a few fantastic exhibitions.  Currently the Art Gallery of South Australia is exhibiting a selection of work from the famous Saatchi Gallery in London.  I must say, Mr Charles Saatchi has very eclectic taste.  I can appreciate most conceptual art but some of the work selected even gets me scratching my head.

However, instead of going on about the work I didn’t enjoy…let me show you the work I was drawn towards and surprisingly, it wasn’t all photography either.

Barry Reigate

Reigate’s series of fluorescent light sculptures were conceived as one-of-a-kind art and design originals, functional furniture catering to connoisseurs of unmitigated indulgence. The lamps are ostentatious pastiches of bad taste, pierced through (literally) with the pretentiousness of minimalist design.

The figures in this series are made from Jesmonite which is used in film sets and models.  Reigate uses this material as an association between classical plaster sculpture and popular culture.  He applies the material thickly and then just lets gravity take its course, so that there is this historical reference to Modernist painting.

I was drawn to these figures for their supposed slap-together kitschiness and their anti-pop culture stance.  It’s almost like a ‘middle finger’ to Disney Corp.

Anne Hardy

Anne Hardy’s photographs picture depopulated rooms that suggest surreal fictions. Working in her studio, Hardy builds each of her sets entirely from scratch; a labour-intensive process of constructing an empty room, then developing its interior down to the most minute detail.  Her process is an organic one – often starting with the objects first, then constructing the rooms in which to place them.

Hardy’s image Cell (above) reminds me Jeff Wall’s The Invisible Man…perhaps she is influenced by his work or it could just be a coincidence.

Standing in front of her large photographic works, you find yourself being drawn into her images – to decifer all their details and come up with a narrative.  Hardy’s images withhold the actual experience of her environments, allowing our relationship with them to be in our imagination.

Toby Ziegler

Ziegler’s creative process begins by removing the ‘hand of the artist’ and developing his image and sculptural models on the computer.  He then painstakingly re-applies traces of artistic intervention by rendering these digitised models entirely by hand.

In Designated for Leisure, the image is composed on reflective industrial fabric – the painting’s surface shifts and transforms when viewed from different angles, revealing the landscape within as a chimera of light and perspective.  I was first drawn to this painting for its sheer size but as you get closer, its reflectiveness gives the impression of a landscape from a different dimension – one that is broken down into its basic shapes and forms.

Inspired by a set Victorian Staffordshire figurines, The Liberals is made from intersecting cardboard panels.  The scale of monumentality is at odds with the use of its humble material and the roughly painted panels.  Perhaps this contradiction reflects how the figurines, originally associated with value and prestige are now symbolic of kitsch within popular culture.

The exhibition concludes on the 23rd October so if you haven’t had the chance to visit and you are in Australia, it’s definitely worth the admission fee.

Images and artist info via Saatchi Gallery.  Info about the exhibition can be found via The Art Gallery of South Australia site here.

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Filed under Adelaide, collections, gallery exhibition

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