Sunday, 15 February 2009

The Saatchi Gallery: Unveiled

We made it to the Saatchi Gallery yesterday, and were not disappointed.  The current exhibit is called Unveiledand features contemporary art from artists working in or originally from the Middle East.  We were both really impressed by the exhibit, and highlights included:
  • Kader Attia's Ghost, which was a room full of aluminum foil 'casts' of Muslim women in various prayer poses.  This was really striking as the forms were actually hollow/empty, creating a surreal and super-modern feel.  It also made us wonder how the artist executed it (with a single individual as the model, with many individuals?).  We also wondered whether it was made in situ, as an installation, or transported in its complete form from elsewhere.
  • A room full of prints by Halim Al-Karim, which played with the concept of focus and out-of-focus in really interesting ways.
  • Laleh Khorramian's paintings, which reminded us of Hieronymus Bosch, with their other-wordly qualities and details.  
  • Sun Yuan and Peng Yu's "Old Person's Home" is also worth noting.  It's not part of the Unveiled exhibition, but it is definitely like nothing I've ever seen.  Essentially, mannequins of individuals, who look a lot like certain world leaders, are placed in wheelchairs.  The wheelchairs have sensors in them and zoom around the room, allowing the mannequins to play "Dodgems" with each other, and with exhibition visitors.  Controversial? Definitely.  And also really entertaining.
The exhibit isn't huge, and we navigated our way through in about 90 minutes.  It is truly unique, and like nothing else I've ever seen in a gallery.  The artists are mostly in their 20s and 30s, and come from all over the Middle East, including Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Tunisia, Egypt, Syria and Algeria. I'm not sure how I would have felt about the exhibition if I'd paid £16 to get in, but since it was free, I can whole-heartedly jump on board.  I think we'll be back for future exhibits as well.

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