The Shape of Things To Come: New Sculpture (The Saatchi Gallery 27th May – 16th October 2011)

I need to write about more Art galleries. I need to write about more Art galleries. As sporadic as it is (a post on Christian Marclay’s ‘The Clock’, the Newspeak Exhibition). But, once again, an exhibition at The Saatchi Gallery in London has completely inspired me to write. I reiterate my point that the foundations of film and cinema is in Art – and through understanding the history of Art and keeping in the loop with contemporary Art you will enjoy film-watching moreso.
This exhibition focussed on sculpture and, in discussion with friend Jenkins, he stated how what is so successful about exhibitions at The Saatchi Gallery is the layout. The gallery is not afraid to put a single art piece into a room despite having quite small spaces to fit art pieces in. Even the layout is a little random – forcing you to walk up and down stairs, up and around in lifts if you are keen to visit each gallery before popping to the basement to see a room full of oil. It is still an incredible gallery with pieces that inspire and resonate.
Crashed Cars and Obscene Acts
My favourite artists work funnily enough coincide with my recent interest inn David Cronenberg. I spent a large portion of time wandering around and through the work by Dirk Skreber. His two pieces (strangely titled “Untitled (Crash)” – why not just “Crash”) used a single metal pillar and physically wrapped (what appeared to be) fully functioning cars around the pillar. The cars stood tall, in the air almost, and appeared to show a specific moment in what would usually be a fast, chaotic state. On the one hand, I think about Michael Bay – and how parents should take their children to see this exhibition whereby they would literally stand in awe at these huge metal creatures rather than sit and be [metaphorically] punched in the face multiple times, wearing 3D glasses in a darkened room. An incredible experience to see his art work.

David Altmejd is another favourite who used figurative form and corrupted it. I recall two pieces – one whereby a single figure stood tall and winding around it and through it were multiple stairwells and mirrored surfaces, reflecting the different contortions and creations. It was as if M.C. Escher had been turned 3D and then stretched across the figure. Altmejd’s larger scale piece, The Healers, was fascinating. It consisted of many, many figures all in sexual unison in a variety of forms – but the faces were often distorted and the figures were all joined up. They were often asexual and, in almost all cases, had further sculptured hands twisting and breaking free from the figures. It was obsecne, explicit and facsinating – you wanted to peer in to see more detail as if to ask how the whole sculpture was possible. On one leg, the knee was a combination of two hands connected, another showed a face completely removed as the penis of another figure protruded through. His work reminds me of Cronenberg’s filmmaking whereby the physical form moulds and mixes with other shapes. Berlinde De Bruyckere equally showed a Cronenberg-esque style whereby horses almost looked like they had been melted down into an almost blob-like form. Both artists forced you to look close and carefully at what exactly you were looking at.
Finally, an artist who I truly enjoyed was the cubist inspired Thomas Houseago. His art pieces showed figures that combined oppostie approaches – figurative but abstract, complete but appears incomplete, etc. As a teacher, I speak to pupils about Picasso regularly – he is an artist who can fit so many forms and ideas. You can get any idea or object and, with Picasso’s influence, distort and change it into a range of different ways. These pieces, as soon as you walked in, showed these multiple-angled but flat-surfaced ‘creations’.  Great to see.
The Viewer chooses the Meaning
Now, a couple of artists failed to inspire me. Peter Buggenhout’s potential-pieces-of-rubbish apparently challenge the viewer into considering what should and shouldn’t be Art. The pieces, we are told, have been created – thye are not random or purposeless – but the artist has “carefully made” each one. Problem is, it is not clear what the purpose is. He questions the “strong influence of projection on the way art is perceived”. Well, sorry Pete, I perceive very little and that gives me a question – do you truly believe your art is any good? Because I don’t.
Oscar Tuazon’s Bed equally seemed to be problematic too – originally his own bed and then converted into an art piece, this seems to have a lack of focus. I appreciate that it must have been interesting when within a flat/house and the extreme process of building this strange bed-shape, but in an Art gallery it seems out of place and out of context. Sometimes, art pieces should stay in bed.
A Great Show
I absolutely loved the exhibition – and there are many more artists who I enjoyed: Anselm Reyle, John Baldessari and Folkert de Jong  all presented work that I could’ve spent much longer looking at. I think, as film fans, we owe it to the Art form to appreciate these exhibitions because – as we know from directors like Steve McQueen, Sam Taylor-Wood and Tracy Emin – incresingly, artists are turning into filmmakers and these shows give us an indication as to what their films may be like. I’d like to see more filmmakers from teh Art world – rather than coming from the producing/business side of the industry (no offence to Matthew Vaughan).
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