060409: Saatchi Gallery: Unveiled: New Art from the Middle East

Saatchi Gallery: Unveiled: New Art from the Middle East The new in the limelight Last October, Charles Saatchi opened his new gallery in Chelsea with the exhibition “The Revolution continues: New Chinese Art”. Currently, “Unveiled: New Art from the Middle East” is being shown, which will be followed by “Abstract America: New Painting and Sculpture” and “Germania: New Art from Germany”. Contrary to the trend of increasing globalisation, hyper-mobility, as well as transnationality, the individual presentations focus on regional aspects – and do not shun away from the complexity of Middle East problems. The show begins with works by the Lebanese artist Marwan Rechmaoui, who lives in Boston. The black Indian rubber mat “Beirut Caoutchouc” (2004 – 2008) displays tiny ingrained details - the physical and social formation of an urban landscape. Destruction and the long history of conflict are not presented directly, but indirectly through the material chosen. In his colourful walk-in installation Future City “Qalandia 2067”, the Palestinian artist Wafa Hourani presents the possible urban texture of a refugee camp with details including toy cars, graffiti, or cacti in flower pots made of bullet casings. Even in the year 2067, he envisages a dividing wall ( with American advertisment banners) to an Israeli military airport. The role of women in today’s Iran is the focal point of Shadi Ghadirian’s work. In her photographical work “Untitled from the Ghajar Series” (1998 – 1999) anachronistic requisites such as a vacuum cleaner or a ghetto blaster irritate the portraits originating from the 19th century, which are emulated in great detail. Questions regarding the positioning of women in the Iranian society are raised through the model’s unusual poses, evoked by the objects. The unofficial Iran is represented by Shirin Fakhim’s life size grotesque sculptures made of kitchen utensils, western prostitutes-outfits and encoded Islamic objections including a chastity belt or a headscarf. “Tehran Prostitute” (2008) stereotypes a picture in the public and prejudiced opinions: In public, Muslim prostitutes wear a Hijab (veil). Humour as a method is also manifested in Tala Madani’s bizarre and surreal paintings, in which male behaviour point to complex political and cultural topics in the Islamic culture in stereotypical glory. The works do not attempt to communicate via high-tech-gimmicks, participatory strategies or documentary narratives, but through monumental formats and large, poetic gestures. However, the exhibition risks to conceal more than it reveals, and to appear superficial by presenting the works of 19 internationally renowned artists from the region (Iran, Iraq, Egypt, Tunisia, Lebanon, Syria, and Algeria). General topics are prioritized: gender roles, religious conflicts, destruction as a consequence of violence, and the westernization of society. By Margit Neuhold Saatchi Gallery SW3 4SQ London, Duke of York’s HQ King’s Road, until 09.05.09 www.saatchi-gallery.co.uk

Saatchi Gallery
SW3 4SQ London, Duke of York's HQ King's Road
Öffnungszeiten: 10-18 h

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