We took a trip to possibly my new favourite gallery, The Saatchi this week. I’ve never really been a fan of contemporary art and tend to go to more traditional art galleries, with renaissance paintings hanging in every room. However, there wasn’t anything in The Saatchi Gallery that didn’t captivate me. I don’t think I’ve ever taken as many photos in one afternoon before!
My favourite installation was Richard Wilson‘s 20:50. At first glance you assume you are looking down onto another floor of the gallery, however when you walk further into the room you realise different. The room is fitted with a tank which covers the entire floor, other than a small pathway you can walk down. The space of the room is completely distorted. The tank is filled to the brim with black oil (where the name 20:50 comes from, a type of recycled engine oil). It appears reflective, which works really well with the rooms clean architecture, and due to it being so level and opaque I was pretty convinced it was solid until I blew on it and saw the ripples in the oil.
The smell of the oil added an extra dimension to the installation which I really liked as you feel more submerged, this feeling of being surrounded was added to by the waist high level of the tank, making you feel as if you’re standing in the thick black oil.
Against the white walls and clean space of the room, I was reminded of Greenpeace and Don’t Panic‘s campaigning collaboration to stop Lego’s partnership with Shell, due to arctic oil spills and the damage to the environment they are causing. Although environmental issues were most likely not in Wilson’s mind when this was first created in 1987 (there have since been 3 versions across London), it is a pressing issue now, and I feel this installation reflects the problem in 2015.
Back to the gallery itself (I drifted a bit there), it’s somewhere I plan on revisiting many times and would recommend to anyone sceptical of contemporary art as I have definitely been converted. It’s mixture of installations, photography, paintings, and sculptures to name a few are all really thought provoking.
I would particularly take the time to go to the Advertising and Consumerism section of the gallery which conveys the contrast of this in Russia and China vs Britain and America. It highlights Western artists taking for granted the freedom they had in their work compared to the more complicated situations for artists living under communist régimes. Looking at political propaganda in advertising and consumerism with the embrace of a market-led economy, through all of the displays, was something which fascinated me. The photo at the start of this blog post depicts one of my favourite pieces from this section of the gallery.
Post Pop: East Meets West is at The Saatchi Gallery until the 3rd of March this year.