Sunday, 20 September 2015

Charles Saatchi's padded room.

So I'm up in London, got myself soaking wet standing out in the street, it's cold and I'm tired out and my back hurt and we went to the Saatchi gallery on The King's Road, Chelsea.

The perfect place for me to get annoyed.

The road was once the most fashionable place in town - now? It's just for the rich.

And one of the richest is Charles Saatchi.

He's not my friend - he made his reputation (with his brother) when he was responsible for taking the old fashioned, bigoted and stupid Margaret Thatcher and making her appear something different to what she really was.

His advertising agency made bad seem good and we've been living with the consequences ever since.

Recently, he was photographed strangling his wife in a restaurant - he was lucky to get a Police Caution.

He is not a nice man.

But perhaps his greatest crime can be seen at his Art Gallery - he has distorted the art world in the same way that at the end of the 1970's he distorted the political world.

There is something poisonous about the man.

Once he'd made his millions, he started "Investing" in art - he literally trawled the world and sucked up huge quantities of works of art - if they seemed promising.

If they might 'appreciate'.

Like pork bellies or gold. Think 'Trading Places'.

Most famously, he bought up the 'Young British Artists', typified by Damian Hirst, and in buying their works he made them famous.

Sometimes he's wrong.

Sometimes he's right and if you walk around his gallery there is some good stuff.

I liked this series of pictures;

But he is quite sinister - he will go to a country and buy up everything he agrees with. So say he goes went to Cuba (I don't know that he has) his purchases bless the artists he wants to promote.
And he certainly isn't going to promote Cuba's socialism. His money falls on the opposition in a country like that.
In effect, his purchases are another arm of British foreign policy because artists matter - they are opinion makers.
It's just that their opinion has to match Charles Saatchi - if they want the money.
Having so much money and so much influence also distorts the art 'Market'. Actually, he is just the biggest, best financed and most determined art dealer there is.
And he does buy a lot of rubbish.
The main exhibition at the moment is 'Pangea II- new art from Latin America and Africa' and there are some gems.
Quite separate to that there is also 'Teamlabs' who describe themselves as 'Ultra-Technologists' and are a collective of computer programmers and a variety of technicians.
Their 'Flutter of Butterflies Beyond Borders' is an interesting use of new tech.
It's in a padded room (which may have caught Saatchi's eye) and is a swirl of evolving electronic images;

Robyn caught that image from the floor because my camera (or me) couldn't cope. The flowers grow and divide as you watch them.

It is hypnotising;

And calming as petals fall slowly and butterflies flutter around the room.

Screens morph continuously;

But it is just a computer programme......and Super Mario is clever too.

I liked this;

And for me, this series was the star of the show;
Just great;

The gallery is normally free - it can be good and/or bad depending on Saatchi's taste.

Take a look for yourself.

You'll probably be able to see it without the distorting glasses of someone like me who can only see unemployed miners, heroin ruined pit villages, unemployed steelworkers and printers and a generation whose life chances were destroyed by people like Thatcher and her image maker Charles Saatchi.

Neil Harris
(a don't stop till you drop production)

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