Towards the end of this month, the Saatchi Gallery will launch a new programme of exhibitions which will continue the Gallery’s 25-year-long support of emerging artists and its drive to make contemporary art as widely available as possible to a British and international audience. An entire floor of the Gallery will be devoted to exhibiting artists in the early stages of their careers. Throughout the year the exhibitions will reflect the Gallery’s unique ability to respond quickly to some of the most exciting work being made by artists working in the UK.
This new programme of exhibitions will enable emerging artists, many of them recent graduates, to see their work displayed in a museum environment, and it will also give visitors to the Saatchi Gallery the chance to discover new artists of particular merit and promise.
The first in this series of exhibitions is New Order: British Art Today, featuring 17 young artists based in the UK. The work of this new generation of artists offers an arresting insight into the nature of Britain today: somewhat nebulous in its identity, somewhat uncertain of itself, recent spikes of national cohesion – the 2011 royal wedding, the 2012 Olympics – are blasts of pageantry, quickly silenced, sometimes soured. The symbols of national identity seem more and more inarticulate and dislocated from the experience of actually living here.
The artists are not an evidently coherent group, but if there is a collective spirit in many of the works in the exhibition, it’s in their interest in addressing the vast abundance of imagery which we are all increasingly surrounded by in the 21st century. As the series of exhibitions continues, a clearer understanding may emerge of a distinct new direction.
The exhibition includes sculptural forms that owe a debt to American minimalism, paintings that mine British caricature from the 18th century, the iconography of earthly power (kings and politicians), everyday elements from ordinary life (tattoos, underpants, banana skins), industrial materials as well as traditional oil paint and gouache.
New Order: British Art Today, 26 April, Saatchi Gallery, Duke Of York’s HQ, King’s Road, London, SW3 4RY. www.saatchi-gallery.co.uk
1. Greta Alfaro, In Ictu Oculi, 2009. Courtesy the artist and Saatchi Gallery.
2. Tereza Zelenkova, Cometes, 2012. Courtesy the artist and Saatchi Gallery.