Thursday 20 February 2014

New Order II: British Art Today

Today after my Italian class I decided to make the most of a brief window of sunshine and beautiful clear blue sky to take a short walk to Kings road and visit the Saatchi gallery. I was particularly interested in the New Order II: British Art today exhibition that opened on the 24th of last month.

When I arrived the gallery was bathed in sunlight and it really is an appealing building when the weather is nice.

This show is the sequel to the New Order: British Art exhibition which opened at the end of last year and ran into the early days of 2014. It is a continuation of the galleries commitment to promoting the works of young artist and in this particular instance new British talent.

The exhibition includes the work of 13 artists. Make sure that before you dive head first into their paintings, installations and sculptures themselves you take a look at the wall at the entrance where photographs and a couple of details about the exhibitors are clustered together.

I found this wall of artist fascinating it allowed you to get a glimpse of how the artists want to be seen and in turn how they wanted to be understood. One artist Dan Rees chose to forsake the photograph of himself in favor of an image of one of his works. While the photographs of the younger artists tended to have a more instagrammy feel to them. The ages of the exhibitors was also interesting ranging from Tom Gidley the eldest of the group born in 1968 and Finbar Ward who was a fellow 1990 baby. This reveals an age range of 22 years amongst the group.

I was pleasantly surprised by how much I was drawn to the exhibition as I had already had a quick glimpse around the Body Language exhibition on the lower two floors which had left me seriously underwhelmed.

The stand out room for me had to be room number 13 which included the works by Martine Poppe and Virgile Ittah. Both of these artist completed a postgraduate degree in 2013 the former at the Slade School of Fine Art and the latter at the Royal College of Art. Ittah's work takes centre stage in the room, literally, three of her sculptural works are scattered around the space.

Her sculptures are life size figures sculpted in wax. Wax is a beautiful medium that allows the artist to create dramatic textures and the sense of heavy melting and dripping forms while still allowing careful modelling to create incredibly lifelike faces and bodies. The sculptor has used the medium to wonderful effect with these works and they remind me of the sculptures of the tortured French sculptor (and Rodin's lover) Camille Claudel.

On the walls the paintings by Martine Poppe initially seem to play second fiddle to their more dramatic neighbor but when I did turn my attention to them I fell in love. The paintings are done on polyester restoration fabric more commonly used by painting conservators. The paintings have a blurred quality which you expect to go away on closer or further observation in the style of impressionist or pointillist painters. However it never does. This particular painting showing silhouettes of people behind a clock face is a stunning work that could grace any contemporary private collection.

Each artist has something interesting to offer these are just my personal favourites and I recommend going and spending a lovely day in Chelsea and choosing your own.

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