On the 31st of January Ellen Datlow and I went to see an exhibition called the Gesamtkuntswerk: New Art From Germany at the Saatchi Gallery. It’s in King’s Road and so we started our stroll from Sloane Square. Here’s a pic of Ellen at Sloane Square station. Two more pics en route. A bronze depicting a pupil from the Royal Military Asylum which used to be adjacent to the Duke of York’s Headquarters. Also there’s a statue of Sir Hans Sloane (1660-1753). Ellen’s not the only one to display a lovely head of curls. (Sloane introduced drinking chocolate milk to Europe and purchased the manor of Chelsea in 1712. And on his death his library and Cabinet of Curiosities became part of the new British Museum.)
Since 2008 the new Saatchi Gallery has been here, elegantly maintaining it’s outward connection with the original architect, John Sanders. It’s Georgian, verging on Regency, dating from 1801. For much of it’s time, the building had been the Duke of York’s Headquarters. Now the architects AHMM have effected a delightful transformation inside.
Ellen tended to focus on the sculptures. Her new camera is serious. It’s a digital Nikon SLR.
Ellen and Alexandra Bircken
Ellen and Andro Wekua
Ellen and Isa Genshen
Ellen and Kiesewetter
Ellen and Thomas Zipp
I went for the mystery of two dimensions within a frame. A winner for me was by Ida Ekblad: Dusty Dry On The Tongue Swallowed Some. A point worth noting: this Saatchi Gallery gives each work a breathing space. The wall behind this work is painted in exactly the same tone as the frame.
The Tobias brothers mounted coloured woodcuts on large lengths of canvas. The room glows. There is general feeling that we’re looking at Transylvanian versions of our Punch and Judy.
Jutta Koether fascinated me. I very much liked her Leibthahtige Malerei 2007.
But I couldn’t like, or even be fascinated by Mède, the other painting on show by the same artist. I didn’t even feel like photographing it. The dominant colour is viridian green in nervous lines. It’s a sort of a self portrait apparently. Punk undertones. Jutta Keother reminds me of Patti Smith and that’s good. But let’s get down to what bothers me about this work. The nervous twitches seem sometimes unexamined. Lots of stuff is thrown in. And then some more. In the green Mède painting it felt like the artist was like doing various riffs, as in a music. That can be a most effective way to get stuff down on canvas, and can be great. Or not. But in the graphic arts we can edit and change areas that have, for instance, gone dead. She doesn’t seem to do this.
Or is something else going on? Perhaps in this work she is going down a stubborn road of self loathing. That would explain a lot. Whatever, I prefer her Berliner Schlüssel paintings. And, in this exhibition, I delight in all the delicate details of above mentioned Leibthahtige Malerei. (Real Life Painting.)