9 April 2012

New Art from Germany at the Saatchi Gallery

I was going in to Town for some theatre in the evening and thought I'd make a day of it by visiting the Saatchi Gallery first.

This was my first visit there (my bad) and so it was the gallery that I was interested in seeing rather than any specific exhibition that was on at the time.

The gallery is within spitting distance of Sloan Square in a large old building that has had its innards ripped out and replaced with a few large rooms uniformly decorated with white walls and bleached wooded floors - exactly how you expect a modern gallery to be.

It's a private gallery but it is still free, which makes it even easier to give modern art a try.

The New Art from Germany (Gesamtkunstwerk) occupies the whole gallery which consists of 14 galleries spread over 3 floors in a 5-5-4 formation.

Gallery 1 opens the show with works by Markus Selg and makes an immediate impression.

This picture is called Traum der Sarazenin (Dream of the Saracen) yet it is the echoes of Britannia that made me dwell on this for so long. And at over 2m x 3m it fills one wall.

Each of the galleries is different and each door crossed brings new surprises.

A wide range of materials are used even for the traditional pictures.

This is a small section of a works by Gert and Uwe Tobias that is woodcut on paper on canvas.

The full picture is 2m by 12m and is rather jolly.

The size and method of construction mean that you need to stand some distance back to see everything and then to get up close to appreciate the parts that make the whole.

The same is true of the next picture.

From a distance you see the larger image of the trees and the river and when you get up close you see all the little elements that make this a series of pictures on a common background.

It is such a busy picture that you can look at for ages spotting new things all of the time.

The colours grabbed me at first with this painting and I could appreciate it as a piece of abstract art before noticing some of the detail hidden in it.

It is probably about something else but it evokes in me a couple having a quiet drink in a bright and busy city, say Tokyo.

The colours and noise of the city are outside but where they sit is calm.

Another picture that evokes quiet is this one of an urban garden.

Here there is no movement and only a few red flowers break the gentle greens and yellows.

Again approaching the picture is rewarding as there is a lot more detail than an initial look suggests. Up close you can see, for example, more flowers with each leaf and petal picked-out.

There is a lot more to the exhibition than pictures, and here is just one example to prove the point.

I chose this one simply because it is colourful and fun, like so much in the exhibition.

The motley assortment of desk lamps is drawing attention to the cartoon in the centre that shows a couple on a desert island hiding from a passing boat.

Elsewhere there was some odder things, like the installation chosen for the exhibition poster above, a large vibrating mirror and cloth stuck in expanded polystyrene.

While these installations used more exotic materials and could, therefore, be considered less mainstream they were equally interesting.

One of the more useful things I did while there was to sign off for their mailing list so that I keep informed about their exhibitions and events. I'll be going to the Saatchi again.

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