Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Out of Focus at the Saatchi Gallery

Saatchi Gallery Out of Focus Private View (1)
I loved this piece by Maro Pascual, a simple, classically shot portrait that could'vecome from a yearbook but the presentation of the ripped and then framed photograph draws you in to wonder about the girl's backstory giving an unsettling quality
 A couple of weeks ago I was lucky enough to go to a private view of the new exhibition of photography at the Saatchi Gallery, 'Out of Focus', organised by Times+. I went along with a friend of mine who is a brilliant photographer. Below is a snap of us outside the gallery, I'd decided to try a tonal look, I wasn't quite bold enough to go with 100% one colour (nor is it possible with my wardrobe) but I liked the combination of the two shades of blue and the pop of yellow.

SHOES: Russel&Bromley - TROUSERS: Vintage, Balda - BELT: Vintage - T-SHIRT Made by me BAG Fossil - EARRINGS Gilda's Tryst
It was a real pleasure to get a guided tour round the exhibition by the curator, a charming french woman who pointed out key pieces in each room and explained the reasons for grouping certain artists together which was particularly interesting given the lack of a structured theme and the fact the featured artists are relative unknowns.

The show is probably the most enjoyable as a whole of those I've visited at the Saatchi. It explores different methods of photography, going beyond capturing images to the manipulation of existing images from archival footage and magazines as well as abstract works using film damaged during processing. However I found that there was less work that seemed to have the level of 'shock factor' for the sake of it that is often offputting in Saatchi's collections.I wonder if this is because of the medium that the exhibition featured, as photography is relatively new there are more subjects that are yet to be comprehensively explored or can be looked at in new ways. It also means that we have less preconceived notions about what photographs should be, so although the featured collages and manipulations are not what would normally come to mind with photography we are more open to these new ideas.

 Follow the jump for some of my favourite work in the exhibition

Saatchi Gallery Out of Focus Private View (43)
These portraits by Katy Grannan, captured in a traditional style held great vibrancy and life and the unusual subjects, all picked of the streets then shot in a very relaxed manner, leave you wanting more

Saatchi Gallery Out of Focus Private View (48)
David Benjamin Sherry takes classical landscapes and then gives them coloured tints post-production, these were very soothing and beautiful. I could see him having commercial success as they would be a lovely piece to have if you have a large enough space.

Saatchi Gallery Out of Focus Private View (51)
Mariah Robertson used spoiled photographic film to create colourful, abstract pieces; a technique I haven't previously come across. I liked the presentation of this very long print which rolled down the wall and across the floor, I think it could have also been great going around the walls of the room.

Saatchi Gallery Out of Focus Private View (59)
JH Engstrom and Ryan McGinley (below) both focus on the subject of youth and are influenced by the work of Nan Goldin but approach it from different angles. Engstrom's work is darker and tends to look at disadvantaged people, he also did a series of women in childbirth. I found this photograph of a young couple on their wedding day very moving, they are clearly poor but I get a great feeling of hope from the simple expression of affection captured.

Saatchi Gallery Out of Focus Private View (61)
McGinley is one of the most famous photographers in the exhibition, his work attempts to capture the exuberance of youth in gigs and exploring. Again he uses the technique of a colour wash to emphasise a mood. The work is attractive and has a sense of joy but some of the pieces did seem a little shallow as if they could have been designed as album covers.

Saatchi Gallery Out of Focus Private View (69)
One of the more 'sensational' artists in the exhibition A.L. Steiner's art features images typically associated with porn, exploring the identity of queer women in modern society. Sometimes the most interesting part of being in a gallery is watching the viewers, seeing the quiet contemplative response to these images that would often be labelled by society as wrong is fascinating.

Saatchi Gallery Out of Focus Private View (17)
This is the third incarnation of Richard Wilson's room filled with oil which has been housed in purpose-built spaces in each of the Saatchi Gallery's incarnations. There was a tranquil beauty to the room, if it weren't for the smell you would never know that the mirrored floor was created by oil. I also love the consideration given to the sleek, modern architecture of the space which is very different to previous versions. Although not part of the exhibition this is definitely a must-see and can be found in the basement of the gallery.

Out of Focus: Photography
Saatchi Gallery
25 April to 15 July 2012

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