The last sunny day of summer found me sauntering down the King’s Road to the Saatchi Gallery, which has made such a success of turning the former Duke of York’s Headquarters building into a free-entry contemporary art museum. Whatever you think of Charles Saatchi (and his reputation at the moment is not at its highest) there’s no doubting his commitment to giving new, challenging artists a platform and the current exhibition, Paper, does just that.
My first objective was to see the work of Japanese artist Yuken Teruya. Teruya was born in Okinawa and now lives and works in New York, which may explain his fascination with the icons of consumerism – notably McDonald’s and LVMH (proprietor of big fashion brands Louis Vuitton, Christian Dior and many others).
He cuts their bags into incredibly detailed model trees which are then pushed inside the bag for display. It’s an application of the traditional Japanese craft of kirigami (paper cutting).
Teruya plays on the irony of trees that have been turned into paper being turned back into representations of trees.
The paper bags offer him an ideal way of displaying his trees, with the light filtering through the cut section of the bag like sunlight in a forest, and the different colours of the bags representing the changing seasons. The trees themselves have that charm of fine detail and miniaturisation that is characteristic of Japanese art.
So what else caught my eye? It’s a big exhibition so I decided to focus on the three-dimensional works rather than the drawings. Two of them have already had quite a bit of coverage; José Lerma and Héctor Madera’s Bust of Emanuel Augustus, a gigantic portrait made of coloured paper crumpled around hidden supports, which dominates Gallery 3:
And Marcelo Jácome’s Pianos-pipas n17. Made of coloured sheets of tissue paper stretched over bamboo frames, it seems to float across Gallery 7 like the kites that give it its name.
Silke Schatz’s Mothership is another work with a strong presence. I particularly liked the different views of the interior you could get if you walked around it.
Daniel Kelly’s I see it all now…some of it! is wall based ‘paper architecture’ that suggests the idea of a building put together from fragments – here a slice of floor, there the stump of a column, adding up to a building of the imagination rather than reality.
Jessica Jackson Hutchin’s Couch for a long time is the exact opposite. It’s a sofa made of newspaper with ceramic pots on it that captures the essence of soft, squishy fabric in a completely different medium.
Finally, it’s easy to miss the work of Jodie Carey simply because it’s displayed in the very last gallery and you have to walk right into the gallery and turn round to see it. If you go, make the effort because I think it was my favourite in the whole show. Carey makes formal flower arrangements out of newspaper (specifically the Daily Mail judging by the titles of the works) that has been stained with tea, coffee and even blood.
The complexity and detail contrast with the overall funereal effect of the work; these are flower arrangements for gothic chapels, not for weddings.
Paper is on at the Saatchi Gallery until 3rd November. The Gallery is open seven days a week from 10am to 6pm and it’s free. Nearest tube Sloane Square.