Out of Focus: Saatchi Gallery

The Saatchi Gallery is a London gallery for contemporary art, opened by Charles Saatchi in 1985 in order to exhibit his collection to the public. It has occupied different premises, first in North London, then the South Bank by the River Thames, and finally in Chelsea, its current location.

The gallery has been a major influence on art in Britain since its opening. It has also had a history of media controversy, which it has courted, and has had extremes of critical reaction. Many artists shown at the gallery are unknown not only to the general public but also to the commercial art world: showing at the gallery has provided a springboard to launch careers.

The Saatchi gallery, patronised by BNP Paribas and Chanel among others, is 27 years old of great exhibitions. This third location offers all kind of photography (digital, analogue, modern, classic, choc…)

The Gallery One, displays work by artist Katy Grannan. This boulevard series displays large-scale portrait of anonymous people in San Francisco and Los Angeles, all on white background. The fact that they are “true” people, not models, that have been asked to pose in the way they like, in the way the feel comfortable gives all its meaning to the photographs.

Katy Grannan - Boulevard series

Katy Grannan – Boulevard series

Gallery Two displays work of the amazing artist Benjamin Sherry, an american photographer that uses exclusively analogue photography. The artist is not reluctant to digital photography, but he thinks there is still more to discover from the “classic” way of photography. All the pictures display colored landscape. The color is given by a filter (traditionally, not digitally) which makes it kind of romantic. It is interesting to see that landscape formats display picture with an emphasis on the length, while pictures taken in portrait format focus on hight (rock, tree…).

Benjamin Sherry - Hyperborealist

Benjamin Sherry – Hyperborealist

In Gallery Three you can see the work of two artists. Luis Gispert and Sohei Nishino.The last one is a Japanese artist that created diaporama of the cities of Paris, Tokyo and New York. All three are composed of hundreds (thousands?) of picture from those places taken under different angle and put together so it form a map of the place. We can also see abstract faces appearing in the collage. The dramatic effect is emphasized by the use of Black and White, and a human dimension is given to the work by a rounded horizon line.

New York by Sohei Nishino

New York by Sohei Nishino

The Gallery Four introduces the work of John Stezaker, called Re-made. It consists of pre-existing pictures that he combine and slice them into one new piece of art. He is an adept of appropriation, for him, art is not necessarily something we create from the scratch.

The interesting work of Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin is displayed in the Gallery Five. Those two photographers work together in Belfast.They take picture from archive that were discarded due to damage or “unusable” characteristics and exploit them. The collection of small rounded black and white picture is very interesting as it shows you a small part of the picture, a small part of a story, and it is your job to imagine the rest of that story, a kind of truth in the photograph. For me, the most impressive piece of their work is the photo displayed below. This black man on a black background wearing a red pant and cap with a drip in his arm, wearing a sword as if ready to fight the disease physically before to escape maybe with the bicycle in the background. I found this one fascinating.

Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin

Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin

Ryan McGinley is exposed in Gallery Six. This young photographer, famous for the Levis campaign, and close friend of Marc Jacob uses analogue photography as well. He questioned himself on how to make a photograph unique in a world where everybody has a camera, so he chooses unique places (caves…) of difficult access, uses long (very long) exposure time, and filters to create something special, unique. On the displayed picture you can also see his friend Jonas posing naked in the cave. The scale of his print have an importance and emphasize the fact that he tries to push the boundaries. JH Engstrom nude picture are also displayed in this gallery.

Ryan McGinley - Jonas Molten

Ryan McGinley – Jonas Molten

Gallery Seven displays Mariah Robertson work. Also a practitioner of analogue photography, she uses large scale. Her piece titles “88” is more than 3m long on a single paper roll. She uses layering techniques, exposure, colors and the picture are still very sharp even with the size of the work. Sara Vanderbeek work is also shown in this room. As well as Michele Abeles somehow “chocking” work. From New York, she uses titles that are quite explicit like “Arm, Plant, Bottle,Wood” in 2011.

Michele Abeles - Legs, Number, Frame, Concrete

Michele Abeles – Legs, Number, Frame, Concrete

Gallery Eight shows Meredyth Sparks piece “Roxy” composed of 27 parts among other, and David Nooman.

In Gallery Nine you will see the works of A.L Steiner, Chris Levine who is born in Canada but works in the UK, and took the famous picture of HM the Queen Elizabeth II eyes closed, Marlon Pascal and Laurel Nakadate.

Chris Levine - The Lightness of Being

Chris Levine – The Lightness of Being

The work of Mat Collishaw displayed in Gallery Ten is very interesting. It consists of three huge pictures in mosaic. He was one of the first artist sponsored by the Saatchi gallery. He thinks that picture fade are they are made of paper, while mosaic will last forever. The mosaic are posed on wood. The use of large scale and black and white underline the controversiality of the picture, it emphasizes the meaning, it makes it somehow disturbing as the faces appears pixelated, makes it anonymous. You can’t look at those picture like you are used to look at photos, it makes you think twice. Noemie Gaudal is also exposed in this room, she recreates nature, she contrast the natural and the artificial.

Mat Collishow

Mat Collishow

The Gallery Eleven hosts the Google street view gallery of Jon Rafman from Montreal.

And finally don’t miss the Oil installation of Richard Wilson at the lower level (shop level)

Map to the Saatchi Gallery. Underground Sloan Square

And last but not least, this amazing gallery is totally FREE!!!

Stay tuned for update about upcoming exhibition and workshop




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