Continuing our class’s visit to various galleries, our day out saw myself, Zig and two other students visiting the Saatchi Gallery.
Shame to say, I’d not visited there before and I wasn’t disappointed. I really like the size and space of gallery areas. It’s perfect for displaying big & bold items, which there were many to see.
I hadn’t read up on what was on display as this was an impromptu visit. Plus, I always like to be surprised when visiting a gallery.
The first installation that caught my eye consisted of pots and pans on a wall. Measuring 4.40m x 10 m it was hard to miss. My first impression was ‘why’, but something grabbed both my eye & imagination so I had a closer look.
Looking at the details, I couldn’t help be reminded of the details in tree bark that I particularly love. Both these and the above have been shaped/marked by their environment and the people around them.
Later research revealed that this instalment was by Saudi Arabian artist Maha Malluh, whose work centres upon the impact of globalisation and consumer culture within her nation.
Malluh states (according to the Saatchi Gallery website)
“My inspiration for art comes from my country, a land of contrasting images and ideas. Good art… forces you to pause, to contemplate and think harder about your surroundings.”
This is how the Saatchi Gallery positions Malluh’s work:
“Her sculptures are assemblages of objects found in junk shops and flea markets, their decrepit state speaking volumes of the culture that once valued but has now discarded them. Food for Thought – Al-Muallaqat is composed of aluminium cooking pots used traditionally throughout the Arab world.”
“The title Al- Muallaqat links the installation to pre-Islamic 6th century Suspended Odes or Hanging Poems traditionally hung in Mecca. What poetry then do these pots contain? And of what lives and stories could they sing?”
I also couldn’t resist an abstract…
The other display that caught my eye and imagination was the pieces by Serbian artist, Jelena Bulajic’s vast and hyper realistic painted portraits. Each minutely accurate painting is sized approximately 2m x 3m.
The ethos of Bulajic’s work, again according the Saatchi Gallery website, is to capture “the human face, with all its softness, contortions, wrinkles and sags”.
The site citation continues “Each canvas is filled with the faces of people she spots in the street, or encounters in daily life, whose character, look, or empathy catch her interest.”
Again, it was those minute details which caught my eye. This time, it was the effect the environment has on a person which resonated. These are portraits of people who have lived their lives and it shows. The reflection in the glasses also exemplifies the quality of this artist’s work and observation power.
The other aspect is the medium the artist used. Each painting is made from acrylic polymer emulsion, marble dust, ground granite, ground limestone, kaolin, graphite, charcoal. It’s as if these images have been reconstructed from the same environment which aged the subjects in the first place.
While writing about the two above instalments, it was then something Zig had pointed out in the Hoppen Gallery that began resonating.
The image was “Prison Staircase, Auschwitz” by Simon Norfolk. This features in the exhibition at the Hoppen Gallery called The Image As Question.
The exhibition shows how photography is used as a form of documentary, to record an incident or to prove evidence. The gallery describes this collection in the following way:
“Seemingly disparate these images have a shared gravitas, a weightiness that emanates from their documentary function. Many of the images were originally taken to provide empirical evidence of a theory or record of an event. Dislocated from their original context and distanced by time, they do not so much provide an answer, rather question the viewer afresh.”
At first glance there is a cold beauty to those stairs. The light is almost ‘Hollywood’ with it’s clear definition. Then you begin to notice the worn surface of the stairs. Gradually you realise how many individuals have had to walked up the stairs to have made those groves. Then you realise that the groove is a lot deeper on the left than on the right…
Amongst the other works on display, was a blue donkey. Not quite my thing, but on Zig’s request, here it is…
Criteria Ref: P1, P2, P4, P5