The premise of this exhibition is that paper is on the way out. We’ve seen the rise of the paperless office, paper money is losing out to transactions by card and e-books are on the up.
The gallery claims that this has led to artists holding on to this precious material, but was it ever at threat? Sure, video art is making strides but paper still remains the canvas of choice for the majority of artist who remain committed to creating drawings and paintings.
Some of the art on display involves the inventive use of paper such as an entire sofa wrapped in newspaper and a plant made from copies of the Daily Mail. We start off strongly with the giant sprawling images where it seems she’s drawn anything that pops into her head. But many of the works are simply paintings on paper and often feel derivative of work we’ve seen before on many an occasion.
This is not to say there aren’t some captivating and inventive works on display – both Han Feng’s floating city and Marcelo Jacome’s structure made up of dozens of small kites both have a refreshing and almost magical feel to them.
Amongst the ‘traditional’ works, the stand out is Annie Kevans’ portraits of dictators when they were children. From Hitler to Idi Amin these sets of young boys looks completely innocent and these works present a strong argument for nurture rather than nature being the corrupting influence in their lives.
Despite these highlights, there is a very traditional feel to over half of the works and the exhibition comes across as playing it safe. This is extremely rare for the Saatchi gallery which usually likes to push the boat out, but on this occasion they haven’t been able to.
Words: Tabish Kahn Photo: Courtesy Saatchi Gallery
PAPER: Saatchi Gallery London 18th June – 29th September