Transformations – Unit 1: Pt 11 Saatchi Gallery

After a day of putting the latest developments for the Transformations project into words & pictures, it was time to get out of the house. I decided to make a visit to the Saatchi Gallery.

I first visited this wonderful place last year. The venue is just the right size – not too big, not too small. It’s a very welcoming space, whereas some galleries can either feel like cavernous or claustrophobic.


The main exhibition I wanted to see was “From Selfie to Self Expression”, but the installation in the basement area caught my eye. This was exhibiting the work of Tsuyoshi Maekawa.

Tsuyoshi Maekawa

During the creation of these pieces, Maekawa was preoccupied with the three dimensionality &, cccording to the accompanying text on the Saatchi Gallery’s website:

“Maekawa’s efforts during this time were profoundly occupied with the materiality and three-dimensionality of painting. The artist created a series of works using burlap, cutting the fabric apart and adhering it to canvas, which he then painted over to create a rich, heterogeneous, metamorphic surface. Here, Maekawa made the radically objective nature of painting emerge in all its strangeness. This artistic practice served to subvert the representational, opening an immediate access to the thing itself—the artwork as matter rather than image. Although these works find their place in a lineage of paintings created using unconventional materials such as burlap, as in the work of Joan Miró, Paul Klee, and Alberto Burri, they also stand apart as evidence of a highly independent investigation into abstract texture and the visual relationship of the fluid materiality of the artistic medium with geographic and biomorphic forms.” (1)

I really liked that 3-D construction of the works. Also, the natural flowing lines & use of colours reminded me of my own abstract imagery of tree bark. How to create that 3-D effect… hmmmm…

Anyway, that was a brief distraction before the main attraction.

Set over two floors of the gallery, “From Selfie to Self Expression” explores the history of the selfie from the old masters to the present day. It also purports to celebrate the ‘truly creative potential of a form of expression often derided for its inanity’. (2)

I personally, can’t stand selfies. I don’t like being in front of the camera at the best of times. Plus, the majority of my own selfies are of me looking at the screen in bewilderment thinking to myself ‘which bloomin’ icon do I press so I can take a photo of something way more interesting!’

However, I was nicely surprised with what I encountered. I really liked the concept of showing famous portraits on screens in the first room. Attached to each screen was a phone on which you could ‘like’ a particular portrait. Some I recognised straight away & a couple I hadn’t seen. One which I hadn’t viewed before was the self-portrait of Edvard Munch, the Norwegian artist best-known for The Scream.

These are some of the other works on display which caught my attention, including a photograph of the first-ever recorded selfie.

Other photographs shown were those taken of celebrities taking their own selfies, such as Meryl Streep with Hilary Clinton.

Another aspect the exhibition focused on was interactive installations. This screen showed the people caught by the camera in a very abstracted way as they moved about.

In the next room, there were two screens with a camera which showed the person looking at them with this ethereal smoke emanating from the viewers eyes. Very spooky!

However, my favourite installation piece was a construction of mirrors – I got some great shots with both my mobile phone & the Nikon D5500 DSLR.

The most innovative sculpture I encountered was what first appeared as a grotesque writhing ball of metallic worms, mice & wiggly things. However, when a light shone onto this creation the shadow created on the wall was certainly less sinister. I didn’t take note of the artist, but thought it wonderful.

The final room had a display featuring work from ten young British Photographers who had to create images using the latest phone from Huawei. This particular phone features a dual lens co-engineered by Leica.

The works that stood out for me were those by Alma Haser & Jonny Briggs.

Alma Haser

Jonny Briggs

They stood out, not because of the high quality of their work, but the innovation. There certainly is a growing trend of manipulating photographs & imagery physically & not just electronically.

In my humble opinion, “From Selfie to Self Expression” was both interesting & thought-provoking. I haven’t included all the great work I encountered, such as that by Cindy Sherman, Tracey Emin & June Calypso. You’ll just have to visit to discover it for yourself…



Tasks 1, 2 & 3




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