Monday, 6 May 2013


NEW ORDER: British Art Today    at the  SAATCHI GALLERY 

AFTER LOUISE 2011, Papier mache, wax, acrylic eyes, mixed media 85 x 70 x 70cm
The Louise in this piece is Louise Bourgeois, most famous in this country for her unforgettable gigantic spider, Maman,which both alarmed and enchanted visitors to the Turbine Hall of Tate Modern at its opening. The5e is a link below to the NY Times obituary. She has been described as 'queen of the disquieting family drama' and one of the greatest women artists of the 20th century. Here her head pops out of a giant ball of dark material, studded with pins and needles. Around her neck is a feather collar as grand as a courtier's ruff. To see her face to face you would need to get down on your knees.

This remarkable work is a tribute by Wendy Mayer. In the artist's own words 'I feel connected to her as a woman, a mother, a sculptor and through our shared background in mathematics. When she died in 2010, I wanted to acknowledge her unwitting contribution to my career as a sculptor and created her portrait as a pin cushion doll'
Pins can hurt and draw blood; you stick them into images of your enemies to bring about their downfall; Sleeping Beauty pricked her finger on a spinning wheel needle and look what happened to her.On the other hand we can't do without them: needles and pins make and mend things we need: clothes and furnishings and glowing tapestries. Mayer again 'I wanted to represent her obsession for repair of damage to the self. She wears the dark clothes of mourning but retains her playful spirit and a twinkle in her eye'.

GOLD WATCH 2012 Wax, acrylic eyes, wigs, mannequins, chair, needles, gold watch 100x61x61
In this tender family scene Mayer questions the innocence of children. The adults are child-sized, which makes uncomfortable viewing, but the spectacles and sensible hair styles inspire confidence. Only when you look more closely you can see that the lively baby has slim sharp metal needles in those delightful little chubby fists.
 The catalogue says of After Louise that she's smiling to herself as though delighted with the unspooling disquiet of the exhibits around her. What is she looking at? New Order, on the second floor, is a collection of paintings, sculptures, videos, photographs and installations by 17 'new' artists who live and work in Britain. Some say that the overall effect is too detached, the artists less than passionate. 

It's certainly a sharp contrast with   Gaity is the Most Outstanding Feature of the Soviet Union on the lower floors, an ironic title for works depicting at times almost unbearable violence, despair and degradation in the years following the break up of the Soviet Union. 

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