New Order - British Art Today @ Saatchi Gallery

Contemporary and Old Art Reviews

New Order - British Art Today @ Saatchi Gallery

Postby CAP » Sat May 04, 2013 3:50 pm

Allusions to The Third Reich or an 80s Manchester dance band in the title are not born out in the selection of works. I didn’t really expect them to be. It’ll be a Blue Monday in hell before Charles concedes that Bizarre Love Triangle. The seventeen artists are simply a summary of his recent acquisitions in the UK. Whether they are actually representative of British Art is another matter. With two Spaniards, a Frenchman, Pole and Czech qualifying here as current residents, it’s hard to see ‘British’ counting for very much in any case. The New Order would seem to be Euro, displaced and somewhat detached. Actually, the music wouldn’t have been out of place, come to think of it. But this probably says more about the collector than the collected. Complaints that the current show fails to deliver the spectacle of the Sensation shows of the 90s, miss the point that Saatchi too has moved on. He’s not looking for scandal anymore, for truculence or blag. These days his tastes run to more subdued, complex statements. Consensus seems to be that there are three standouts – the paintings of Steven Allan, the photographs of Alejandro Guijarro and the sculptures of Nicolas Deshayes – with the rest more of less tailing away into mediocrity. I can’t disagree.

In spite of the ample setting, the collection mostly has the feel of a post-graduate show and for the obvious reason that Saatchi still likes to collect from the supposed ‘up-and-coming’, even though this has tended to become a self-fulfilling prophecy. I suspect it’s become a bit of a habit. The new is presumed the property of the young, at least when suitably schooled. Although there are many examples of artists making important breakthroughs later in their careers, such as El Greco, Gainsborough, Goya, Cezanne, Gauguin, Kandinsky, Mondrian and de Kooning. Sometimes the best ideas are not the first ideas. Sometimes it takes rejection to prompt bolder inspiration. Then again, much youthful adventure rapidly turns routine and tedious, such as the work of Derain, Hockney, Stella or Schutz. Even when you’ve got it, doesn’t mean you’ll keep it.

So I take shows like this with a pinch of salt. At least I know what I’m dealing with here, one collector, his current tastes, impeccably presented. And it makes a bracing contrast with the sycophants and hypocrisy that strangle The Turner Prize. Allan, Guijarro and Deshayes absolutely kill anything in this year’s nominations for The Turner Prize. But they are one-hit wonders, so far. At most, you resolve to see what they do next. In the case of Guijarro, I immediately thought of Matthew Ritchie. He'll probably cream his jeans when he sees this stuff. Ritchie, incidentally someone who ought to have won a Turner - he was not only born here but trained at Camberwell, which is one up on the shifty Sehgal. And Ritchie, the original Rhizome Cowboy, has been way ahead of the pack in multimedia, installation, interactives AND painting for over ten years now. But I digress. Guijarro effortlessly assimilates gestural abstraction to theoretical physics in just the way that Ritchie postulates, but coolly, archly leaves it all at 1:1 scale photographs. I could have done with them still larger. I would have gone home happy with just his selection of works.

Allan I thought a measure of how far Saatchi’s taste in painting has moved. The work is so murky yet insistent, so wayward yet adamant, the effect is like Pere Ubu as a brass rubbing. WTF indeed sir! Deshayes comes up with another kind of techno sublime and I can see why it would appeal to Saatchi, just like I can see why he loved Hirst after collecting Koons, after collecting Judd. Again, it’ll be fascinating to see what he does next, the work so imbued with process, it’s hard to see how or what you take from it to elsewhere. The rest, as indicated, were so-sos or wannabes for me. Greta Alfaro’s video came as a surprise, since Saatchi has seemed to steer clear of video for a while. It’s charming enough as a 12 minute movie, mercifully the artist is happy to leave it at that. There are odd little one-offs like Zelenkova’s photograph or Rusha’s painting, which you can only think caught Saatchi at a weak moment or for some reason wanted to use to pad the show out a bit. It says something about the collector I suppose, but not something I really wanted to know. I wouldn’t track these. Zawistowski’s Fautrier/Dubuffet-like impastos ringed with fluoro spraycan halos are unlikely to lead anywhere interesting. The string of religious portraits will thrill if you’re a Catholic. This stuff feels very early 80s to me – in fact I knew guys doing things remarkably similar back then except they were in places like Seoul or the East Village. Sometimes it really is about being in the right place at the right time... Anyway that’s the best and worst of the show for me.

Oh - on the Saatchi website - try and avoid Ben Street’s rubbish commentaries…
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Re: New Order - British Art Today @ Saatchi Gallery

Postby MattRhizible » Sun May 05, 2013 4:22 am

He’s right. I creamed my jeans when I saw those Guijarros. :o
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Re: New Order - British Art Today @ Saatchi Gallery

Postby CAP » Sun May 05, 2013 5:29 am

You see!
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Re: New Order - British Art Today @ Saatchi Gallery

Postby Art queen » Tue Aug 13, 2013 6:52 pm

Really, is there any point reviewing this show. I'm totally for showcasing young artists, however, certainly with me, the show was not so convincing in it's apparent aim to position a few obscure names into the future canon of British art.
And I don't understand this over enduring exposure of large folky/figurative/faux-Picasso/cartoon painting. Cyclical in that every year there is a new set of students picked up from obscurity showcased for their 'intuitive' and 'innovative' take on iconography and painting. It seems to be bought young by Saatchi from conniving RCA/RA/Slade students, and then sent to New York to reach super-stardom. London MA degree shows for sure seem to be full of slick painters contriving their works for him to choose amongst - an unspoken yet widely shared observation. Some 'win', some 'lose'. I know I'm not saying anything new here.
Most of it doesn't say anything, apart from suggest the artist's boredom, and lack of subject or reason within painting. And before you say it, I don't care if the work is meant to be about the artist's boredom, lack of subject and reason. Just like I don't care anymore when paintings are exclusively 'about the process of painting itself'. There is no duration, no departure, I don't care about it. Allan's works would be more interesting as print work, right? What do his paintings really do? Yes, they're trendy and a little obscure due to the painstaking application of layers, but aren't there much better young British artists today than this batch?

Can we not ban this man from visiting degree shows? British art today would be far more interesting.
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