14th July 2012
Twenty-three students, two tutors and one Chief Executive; quite a large bunch to descend on one gallery at the same time, however the Saatchi Gallery is big enough, so no problems.
What a melange this exhibition proved to be, can’t say we weren’t warned, but it’s a shock when you come face to face with it. The majority of the exhibits had no explanations with them and a great number were untitled, which didn’t help a simple, struggling, level one student, something that hasn’t until now been encountered too much, but it does make you think more about what you’re looking at. I’m not saying that the thinking really helped me with a lot of the exhibits, but it was nice to be challenged.
Before going in, Clive White did exhort us all to try to find one or more artists to hang our hats on that we could usefully use to help develop our own style. I was very lucky in that I found my inspiration in the very first gallery with Katy Grannan.
Whilst the text on her work says it was a risky collaboration to have a portrait session on the street and that ‘portraits’ doesn’t quite do justice to the subject, I found the images very freely postured, gritty and inspiring.
The inspiration comes from the fact that the vast majority of the subjects are well beyond their prime and this is an area I’m just researching for my final assignment and ongoing project. It was great to see that she didn’t pull any punches with her portrayals and didn’t try to ‘tidy’ any of them up like some more conservative artist may have.
There are twenty images in the exhibition and I think they all deserve an insertion in this log.
With fifteen individual galleries, fourteen devoted to the Out of Focus exhibition, there is a very wide selection of the best contemporary artists to view and, if so, inclined savour. Perhaps I’m too conservative, or possibly getting too old, to enjoy the vast majority of what was on offer. I personally don’t see how taking old photographs, then cutting up other old photographs to provide parts, stick them on the original old photograph, can be called art and photography to boot! Neither am I a fan of collage being called photography when all it takes is parts of many images, that aren’t necessarily connected, and sticking them all together and in some order not clearly identifiable. This to me is craft, the sort of thing my wife does with her friends on a Thursday afternoon; does this cover a lack of talent and a con by the critics? To me it does.
Yet there are gems to be found amongst all this and I particularly liked Luis Gispert’s images of Peterbilt truck cabs with different background; one of guerillas and the other of escalades.
A very striking triptych from Mohau Modisakeng of a young black man, a bowler hat and his farriers apron took up one wall on its own and stood out as a result.
A quartet of images from Pinar Yolacan seemed somewhat out-of-place in this exhibition as they depict the subjects very much in the traditional style of portraiture, something I found a bit of a dichotomy really.
Finally, Hannah Starkey produced a quartet of images that will fit a front room and a gallery, which I think takes a bit of doing and she should be applauded for her results I think they’re fabulous.