Art guru Saatchi back with new gallery, China show

Tue Oct 7, 2008 6:36am EDT
Email This Article |
Share This Article
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
| Print This Article | Single Page
[-] Text [+]

By Mike Collett-White

LONDON (Reuters) - Influential British art collector Charles Saatchi is back after three years out of the limelight, opening a major new gallery in central London showcasing some of China's hottest artists.

The man who introduced the world to Britart stalwarts like Damien Hirst and Tracey Emin has been largely absent from the art scene since his gallery was forced out of its previous home on the River Thames in 2005.

Now he is back with a huge new exhibition space in upmarket Chelsea, where he hopes free entry to the imposing former headquarters of the Duke of York will attract passers by.

Critics have lauded the imposing three-storey building with its glass and white-walled interior, and welcomed back one of contemporary art's biggest players. But the inaugural show, opening on Thursday, has earned mixed reviews.

"The Revolution Continues: New Art from China" is dedicated to Chinese artists including established stars like Yue Minjun, Zhang Xiaogang and Zeng Fanzhi, whose painting fetched $9.7 million in May, a record for Asian contemporary artwork.

Some critics have categorized the crazed, laughing men of Yue or the gray, stylized portraits of Zhang as repetitive, even "mass production" art.

Generally more popular were the sculptures, particularly an installation piece called "Old Persons Home" by Sun Yuan and Peng Yu, involving 13 aging men on wheelchairs moving randomly around a large basement room.

Their striking resemblance to late world leaders turns the work into a commentary on the pitfalls of power and conflict. The gallery calls it "a grizzly parody of the U.N. dead."   Continued...

<p>A silica gel sculpture called Communication by Cang Xn is displayed as part of the exhibition 'The Revolution Continues : New Art from China' in the new Saatchi Gallery, in London October 6, 2008. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor</p>