Not a LED installation or a sculptural installation in sight; celebrating the traditional art of painting which has fallen out of fashion and seeking to inspire the next generation, ten artists have each filled a gallery space at the Saatchi Gallery.
The recent exhibition “Revolt of the Sage” at Blain|Southern showed “metaphysical” art from artists who use “collage, juxtaposition, fragments, framing devices and layered imagery to explore ruptures in time and the alluring mysteries of the everyday.” Initially, the extensive gallery spaces at the Saatchi feel empty without sculptural works to fill them, but the best work on show continues the “metaphysical” theme and draws the viewer into the paintings. One gallery per artist works surprisingly well for this exhibition and allows large scale paintings to be shown.
David Brian Smith’s work is derived from a cache of family photographs taken by his great grandfather: “I come from a farming background, in Shropshire, where my father was a shepherd….My mother found the picture of the shepherd tending his flock in a newspaper from the 1930s. I’ve made several paintings from this image and have enjoyed using the subject of the shepherd because of my autobiographical relationship with it……Each time I can reinvent the space, light and palette within the picture.”
With dancing burlesque players, Ryan Mosley lets his imagination run free: “They appear on the canvas…worked, reworked, painted over, feeding on mistakes. They exude the feeling that the characters are having a conversation, or are on stage during a performance. The process is quite organic: sometimes it starts with an idea for narrative, then sometimes, according to the process of the painting, the narrative arrives.”
Depicting everyday life in Upstate USA: Raffi Kalenderian paints from life but restrains the brush strokes, so they appear almost graphic in character with perhaps hints of David Hockney
A plant springs off the painting onto the gallery floor, while simple sticks of wood can become brush-strokes on a canvas. Richard Aldrich works in a variety of media (and breaks the rule of this exhibition) but using the philosophy “Less is More” shows how minimal art can be in his works “Past Present and Future #1” and “Boy with Machines”.
Semi-naked Classical figures in “Mingus in Mexico” writhe together in the background on top of which are chairs, household objects, voodoo dolls and other paintings which are also seen in other works such as “Dean Martin in”. David Salle takes images from a variety of sources and “reshuffles” them one overlay upon another, creating a collage with paint and some of the most “metaphysical” works in the gallery.
Referencing the American government in Cuba and London, Dexter Dalwood re-creates historic scenes, often moody with dark sinister skies. In “Bay of Pigs” he shows the failed 1961 U.S. attempt to overthrow the Cuban government as an image somewhere between a vacation brochure and Apocalypse Now – contrasting a world in crisis to everyday life continuing, including a reference to the unconcerned Picasso painting palm trees in Cannes. Meanwhile, in London, he paints Grosvenor Square, currently home to the American embassy, as a comic Armageddon with a sculpture of a dead president standing as a lone caped panto-villain master-minding the elements of world power – by coincidence, very topical in January 2017.