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Mideast unveiled

9 February, 2009

Untitled from the Like Everyday Series
by Shadi Ghadirian, 2000-2001
C-print, 183 x 183 cm

Following the rather successful inaugural exhibit at the Saatchi Gallery last October, the time has come for yet another show to take over the gallery’s stunningly spacious new home over at The Duke of York’s Headquarters in Sloan Square. Still in line with the geopolitical themes presiding in The Revolution Continues: New Art from China, the second installation sees Charles Saatchi travelling to the Middle East to compile the latest additions to a collection of work steeped in the controversies of history, politics, ideology and tradition. Unveiled: New art from the Middle East presents a group of artists primarily from Iraq, Iran, Lebanon, Syria and Tunisia, many of whom are based in the United States and throughout Europe. And it comes as a result of this variance that their work is diversely broad in scope, style, and media all ranging between full-room installations comprised of industrial materials to more intimately-sized abstractionist paintings. Having visited every Saatchi exhibit since The Triumph of Painting in 2005 (Wilhelm Sasnal’s Girl Smoking portraits are still firmly placed amongst my favourite contemporary pieces today), I am certainly looking forward to attending Unveiled this season.

Though admittedly as someone who has long been exposed to the art scenes of both Mideast proper and that which has situated itself around expatriate communities abroad with a connection to the region, I am curious to see how viewing such works chez Charles will impact my perception of the nature of these pieces as well as the general state of the thriving art markets of cities such as Cairo, Beirut and Dubai. And as was the case with The Revolution Continues, there are several artists whose work I will be particularly wanting to see: the photography of Shadi Ghadirian (image above), Kader Attia’s Ghost installation, the quilted mixed-media piece of Sara Rahbar, and the highly stylized paintings of Hayv Kahraman. Also in light of the beautifully clean canvas that is provided by the vast walls of  The Duke of York’s HQ, the collection will without a doubt be very much in line with continuing the Saatchi Gallery legacy of housing the work of artists not conventionally shown in other contemporary art institutions in London, and as such once more shaking up the art world to launch a trend that will sweep through the marketplace with just as much controversy as the talent that it serves to showcase.

Unveiled: New Art from the Middle East runs until 6th May, 2009.

Sarah Badr © MMIX

See also: USA Today (pieces at random)

New Saatchi home (pieces at random)

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