We were in London for about a month (maybe a little less) when we had seen just a few of the big museums: National Portrait Gallery, National Gallery, Victoria and Albert Museum, Natural History Museum to name just a few. I wanted to see what the Saatchi Gallery was about since I had heard good things from my aunt despite some of the press the founder has gotten from his personal life.
We went on our trek to find it and were taken to the places where even the air is more expensive and we got horribly lost. It very well could be because there are a few “King’s Road” locations around and everything around the long high street also starts with “King.” We were at the end of a long day walking over six miles, and I just wanted food and to go home. So, we gave up the ghost.
The second time we tried to find it, we were successful! However, it was closed due to a private event. We let out a long sigh but at least we had found the building instead of continued to aimlessly wander around Kensington. We turned around and made the most of it in the Duke of York’s Square with trying cola flavored licorice (by the way, for anyone who stays away from gluten, stay away from licorice). The market was quite cool complete with steel drummers and oyster shucking.
Then, we decided to make a plan and get to this place once and for all. We headed out snacks, maps and sense of direction in tow. We made it, and it was open. What a relief. After all that effort, I honestly was expecting some tiny space with only a couple of small exhibits that would make an underground art venue laugh. I was wrong. This place was enormous and beautiful.
The first thing I noticed was how everything was so white and clean and that some of the major sponsors for the gallery included Chanel and Hermes. The crispness really helped making the art pop. The theme of the month was about Body Language. One section was female cops in pin-up poses. I thought that was really cool and out of the box. But there was so much more in this place. Four floors and sixteen rooms filled with abstract art which I later learned was not really Jeff’s thing.
One room by Marianne Vitale and Denis Tarasov was quite fascinating. The room itself was juxtaposed with wooden grave sculptures by Vitale and surrounded by pictures of grave stones that seemed to have a transparent photograph of the person overlayed on the black marble done by Tarasov. We did spend some time trying to figure out if these were just photographs of the gravestones as is, but why would someone put so many pictures of their younger-selves next to cars on their headstone?
The room devoted to Andra Ursuta was strange. This was a large installation that consisted of what looked like a catapult trimmed with skyline images or cutouts. Next to it was a dummy that had been placed on the floor with bits of the wall strewn around and above there was a very distinct impact point. This room allowed you to see the installation from the ground but also from a story up to see the overall picture.
There was another installation that I have to bring up not just because of the subject matter, but I thought the way the two sculptures were set up in the room was very interesting. It was called A Very Touching Moment (Pitching a Tent) and A Very Touching Moment (?) by Nathan Mabry. I’m bringing this one up because when I read the description for pitching a tent, I was puzzled. And then, oh–I saw it. It was a very touching moment turned into a “romantic” one. But the other sculpture at the opposite end of the room by the same artist was of a woman watching. Where you stood in the room felt very awkward. You’re standing in the line of vision, which was odd and almost like an invasion of privacy.
The room that interested me the most was one of the last ones we came across. The artwork by Martine Poppe was fascinating and t was paired with sculptures by Virgile Ittah. The paintings looked like there was a white-wash over them not making the images completely clear, leaving them with a haunting feeling. That haunting feeling was not helped by the three sculptures in the room made out of wax that were of the human form. Very realistic and, dare I say, creepy.
The very last room was a permanent piece that was put in during the late 1980s by Richard Wilson. It was a large room that was basically full of oil. To the left was a steel divider to show how deep the oil ran, but the sheen of the black ice made an almost perfect mirror image showing off the room as well as the oil itself.
Jeff’s favorite painting was that of Faust in a rather vibrant palate. He said he would like to have it in our living room to which I think I said okay if we could get one of those wax figures in our backyard. I’m including some additional pictures I took from the gallery below so you can see more than what I am discussing here.
The gallery was more than we expected and worth the wait. We are now experts on how to find this particular gallery if anyone needs to know, but it also taught me that the big museums aren’t all that is there, so I’m trying to make an effort to seek out the smaller venues as well. Next: The Photographer’s Gallery.