Saatchi Gallery

START Art Fair @ Saatchi Gallery, Sep 10 – 13

9 September 2015

START Art Fair is on at London’s Saatchi Gallery, opening to the public on September 10 and running to September 13.

The event is bringing in a total of 53 galleries from 25 different cities for its second annual run, including Dastan Gallery in Tehran, Galeri Chandan in Kuala Lumpur, Galerie Huit in Hong Kong, Arcadia Missa in London, and dvorak sec contemporary in Prague.

And the art fair is also introducing a new addition with START Projects, which will take over an entire floor of the Saatchi Gallery with curator-led presentations and group exhibitions, including a fully immersive digital art presentation by Japanese ultra-technologists teamLab, the debut UK solo show of Prudential Eye Award winners Chim↑Pom, and a curated section of solo presentations called ‘This Is Tomorrow’.

See some of our highlight last year’s event and see the START Art Fair website for details. **


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Some highlights from START Art Fair

1 July 2014

“YOUNG GALLERIES NEW ARTISTS” reads the tagline for the first annual START Art Fair, running over three days in late June at London’s Saatchi Gallery. Eyeing off the production line of increasingly industrialised creative practices, art collectors and prospectors look ‘younger’ for future favourites, across 46 exhibitors from 21 countries, but mostly major Western art centres dominated by the two ‘U’s –the UK and USA. Germany (i.e. Berlin) is conspicuously absent, while there are two representatives from the “emerging” Eastern European markets of Latvia and Azerbaijan. There’s even a Special Economic Zone of art development featuring what’s called Prudential’s Eye Zone, curated to include “some of the most exciting and important work by young artists in Asia today” –in this case ‘Asia’ being Korea, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Indonesia.

As self-proclaimed “great collector” and ‘art-flipper’ Stefan Simchowitz understands it, culture is “oil in the ground” which needs to be “mined, refined” and “distributed”. The Saatchi Art enterprise and its Prudential plc business partner appears to agree, with the gallery’s press release-touted focus being on providing “an innovative platform for emerging artists showing their work”, along with its comparatively symbolic measure of cultural diversification. Hence, the suspended relief of art that, for some, remains on the margins but for a brief window of time (and as a clear view through to its inevitable future) is welcomed within the white walls of the objectified outsider art market.

These economically propelled networks of association are probably most explicitly expressed at Bongsan’s Wooson Gallery booth, as Cameroonian artist Barthélémy Toguo waters a pot plant made of money on a wall-hung flatscreen and its single channel video of ‘The Thirsty Garderner’ (2005). Andrei Molodkin’s 2007 series of crude oil-pumped acrylic sculptures take the form of the ¥en, €uro and dollar $igns forming ‘Yes (Ed.AP)’ and the unsubtle east-vs-west signifiers of ‘Untitled (Jesus and Mohammed)’.

The central piece at Taipei’s Art Issue Projects features Hung-Chih Peng’s dog licking miscellaneous magical talismans into existence on five tablet computers presented on stands screening ‘Excerpts from the Taoist Protective’ (2006). Franklin Aguirre’s aptly themed pun of neon light installation reading its own aphoristic title ‘For Give & For Get’ (2012) is presented by Bogotá’s +MAS: Arte Contemporáneo, the destructive side of said reciprocity coming in the malformed metallic structures reminiscent of contorted supermarket roll cages by Jesse Darling, alongside a mound of pink plaster asthma puffers at Arcadia Missa’s booth shared with Preteen Gallery. Also representing Mario Zoots, Carlos Laszlo and Luis Miguel Bendaña, the usual art fair catalogue of itemised objects listing the dimensions and textures of the works under Old Materialism is eschewed here, in favour of a textual tribute to another kind of “objectophilia”. ‘HOW CAN IT HURT WHEN IT LOOKS SO GOOD’ –co-written by the respective London and Mexico City gallery curators Rózsa Farkas and Gerardo Contreras –rejects the “new materialisms” of a generalised contemporary art thrust, instead projecting the notion of object as (rather than ‘of’) desire.

Arcadia Missa x Preteen Gallery @ START Art Fair (2014). Installation view.
Arcadia Missa x Preteen Gallery @ START Art Fair (2014). Installation view.

That’s why, while figuratively “flatlining” in the “privatised public space” of an art fair, Darling’s behind-the-scenes labour becomes central to the artist’s installation. It’s one that has been continually rebuilt and restructured across contexts, presenting pieces like the ‘Triptych, Not Long Now,’ (2014) from Not Long Now at Lima Zulu in January, or the taped-up and deconstructed plastic bag of ‘Untitled (Morrisons)’ (2013), last seen at It’s been four years since 2010. These elements are again reconfigured in a new installation for the Saatchi space, thus making it more the product of perpetual labour and less static commodity.

Perhaps the “labour of self-induced catatonia” of START Art Fair, as euphemised by Farkas and Contreras, is more apparent in the lavish photos of UAE performance artist and multi-lingual rapper CHOKRA’s hyperstylised ceremony of ‘Zawaj Al Khaleej (Gulf Marriage)’ at the Kashya Hildebrand Gallery booth. As a dynamic work at the intersection of “electronic art and multi-sensory performance” reduced to a two-dimensional image inside a frame that you can sell, the resulting frustrations of such “self-oppression” comes in the form of Australian artist Abdul Abdullah’s photographic print ‘The disaffected byproduct of the colonies’ (2014). Represented by Brisbane’s Fehily Contemporary, Abdullah underlines an equally despotic (if not more consequential) form of domination, via the representation of Muslim marginality within Western society by a recurring motif of ‘Other’ in a Planet of the Apes mask.

Roman Road @ START Art Fair (2014). Exhibition view.
Roman Road @ START Art Fair (2014). Installation view.

There are several gauche references to logo appropriation and branding throughout the fair, equalling the repetitious Prudential labelling and “All gallery floors by Dinesen” signage –on all gallery floors. London’s Roman Road’s nudge to brand recognition is slightly more stylish in Tom Esam’s bronze-backed mirror featuring a faceless Fido Dido (as licensed to PepsiCo) for ‘Self-Esteem #3’ (2013). At Rome’s Studio Pivot, the effects of Francesco Ermini’s paint and pencil on planks featuring recognisable imagery, the Twitter bird logo among them, inevitably influence my personal perception of Giuliano Cardella’s installation nearby. The wall-hung assemblage of paper and mixed media looms large as a framed notebook reading “Browse Me” at the bottom comes to mind less as a dare to touch the art and turn its pages than an analogue incarnation of the internet search engine.

It’s really all a matter of perspective, and as someone steeped in the digital-to-physical spillover of what you might call ‘post-internet’, it’s apparent that those artists associated with the label are slowly exiting the once wild (now not so much) online space in favour of the more financially viable realms of fairs and commercial galleries. That’s when uncategorisable art naturally becomes categorised under a single hegemonising umbrella-brand, at the same time as accepting the terms of access to the economic capital an artist needs to live. After all, in the words of Farkas/Contreras, “cringe at art galleries ‘doing’ disruption in a fair” because “a sit-in on catatonia at times becomes a means of generating what we actually want”. **

START Art Fair is a new annual event featuring international emerging artists and galleries, this year running June 26 to 29, 2014.

Header image: Barthélémy Toguo, ‘The Thirsty Garderner’ (2005). Film still.

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The Dance

10 June 2011

Folkert de Jong‘s Shooting lesson & group of Dancers were probably the stars of Saatchi Gallery’s new exhibition (or at least our favorite ones) standing out of so many dusty & rusty deja vus.

Folkert de Jong - The Dance (Balthazar G)

Because we love flashy polyurethane foam pigmented sculptures and for their macabre expressions taking Goya’s “Blind Man’s Bluff” to a whole new level.

Frozen in permanent gestures like ventriloquist’s dummies (The Peckhamian Mimic, 2007), sometimes quasi-drunkenly gurning or grinning, as in Asalto de la Diligencia (2008) or expressionlessly looking on, these posturing figures have an eerie charge, like carnivalesque puppet grim reapers rising from the detritus of post-industrial culture, poignantly made out of a material that will not last.

Folkert de Jong - The Dance (Player) - 2008

Two of his biggest pieces are being shown @ Saatchi G. until October so even if it’s only for these obscure cartooney scenes, it’s worth a quick visit.

Folkert de Jong - The Shooting Lesson - 2007

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Shape of things @ Saatchi Gallery – London

27 May 2011

It seems like “The Shape of things to come” (not to confuse with H. G. Wells’s Sci-Fi novel) is the first exhibition @ Saatchi Gallery entirely dedicated to sculpture… although they forgot to mention Matthew Monahan’s room also contains a good number of lithographs & post-technological human figure drawings.

Riesen (Giants) by Martin Honert

One of those excessive-orgasmic exhibitions Mr Saatchi has accustomed us to bringing the latest contemporary sculpture  from 20 sculptors in the Saatchi collection… fairy tales, horrid monsters or some typical expensive modern none-sense; courtesy of our friend Charles.

Untitled by Anselm Reyle - 2006

From the delicacy of David Thorpe’s usage of leather on big plaster blocks which would perfectly match an early 20th century Art Deco atmosphere to the roughness & boldness of Rebecca Warren’s clay female nude sculptures .

the exquisite Private Lives by David Thorpe... a few leather flowers were peeling off from the plaster.. oops!

The exhibition maybe trying to answer the “What are the parameters of contemporary sculpture? ” question covering international trends in sculpture over the last 10 years by exploring scale, the dissolution of the very boundaries of traditional sculpture; but many have defined it as a children’s playground where no sweat, blood or tears have been shed to produce these monolithic works.

The Healers (detail) by David Altmejd

As usual inside Saatchi’s selection for the coming 4 months there are as many great choices as there are insipid shapes built on colorful steroids. From De Bruyckere’s tissue waste to the Goya-caprice-alike de Jong’s ironic figures, there’s always room for your personal taste.

The good thing is that despite far from being of Saatchi’s best exhibitions, it’s free as usual. You have until October 16th.

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Showdown New York – on-line

26 January 2011

When a competition has success it’s highly, very, most likely to be repeated year after year. Or in the case of Saatchi gallery’s on-line “Showdown”, every month!

The new edition closes tomorrow morning its entry period and will open one minute after (10:00 am) for us all to vote for a couple of weeks until February 7th… first round, and then until Feb. 12th for the finalists.

Lou Marcellin... by Lou Marcellin
The joy of convict by Evgeniya Maltceva

This time there’s a dedicated topic… New York; well actually not (we wish).  We keep mentioning Saatchi’s on-line project because, just like Behance network & many others is a great way (and nowadays the best) to discover art & talented young individuals (besides our website of course).

Rules, prices, conditions? Same as last time, and the one before, and the next, although this one the winning works will be on display and up for sale at the SCOPE Art Fair in New York City from March 2, 2011 – March 6, 2011 (hence, the NY aspect).

Opera by Adam Brant

Sounds even better than the last one right?  Well go & have a relaxed tea while voting then.

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Newspeak: British art now @ Saatchi Gallery – London

6 June 2010

What does the new British art look like? Is there anything beyond Hirst? Or is it everything reduced (again) to a list of ridiculous excesses of materials & experimental techniques?

For the next 8 months, and divided in two parts (Part I until October 17th and Part II until January 6th) you’ll be able to judge the new contemporary UK art scene curated by Charles Saatchi.

As one of the most influential art collectors in the world Mr Saatchi managed to catapult and promote the so-called “Young British Artist” movement which made stars of Damien Hirst, Gavin Turk, Tracey Emin and Jake and Dinos Chapman and controversial collections like 1997 “Sensations”. If he buys any works by an artist or movement the art world sits up, takes notice and does the same. Should we take notice of the works exhibited in his London gallery then…?

The Bon Viveur by Edward Kay - 2008
The Bon Viveur by Edward Kay – 2008
John Wynne's 300 speaker sculpture, one of the most impressive
John Wynne’s 300 speaker sculpture, one of the most impressive

There has been a lot of anticipation for this show with many hoping it will have the same effect on the current crop of contemporary UK artists including Pablo Bronstein, William Daniels, Matthew Darbyshire, Anne Hardy, Alastair Mackinven, Clunie Reid and Fergal Stapleton. However many commentators have also suggested that whilst Saatchi has spent the last few years focusing more on modern works from China, the Middle East, America and India, the British art scene has moved on with the most interesting and relevant work now comes from video installations and the digital art world, two mediums which Saatchi is famously reticent to collect.

For advertising his exhibition Saatchi has chosen the ‘Real special very painting’ by Barry Reigate, a very striking canvas filled with animated characters like Micky Mouse or Donald, which the artist started painting when he visited his father in prison.

Real Special Very Painting by Barry Reigate

The mixture of Saatchi’s new collection is profound. Very politically critic works like those of Alistair MacKiven which try to analyze the art in political posters, or how galleries influence the visitor with their meticulously calculated tours & the way the objects are displayed . Or “coming back” to the basic way of painting as Phoebe Unwin claims.

In any case the 35 artists included in this first part are surely happy to be chosen by the influential Saatchi. The second part is now open until mid-April.

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