Tuesday, April 7, 2009

The Saatchi Revisited

Some exhibits grow on one. Others inviegle revisiting by sheer puzzlement. Such are the exhibits at the Saatchi and Tate Modern. The Saatchi, you will remember, is hosting a series of 3-month exhibitions on particular themes. Running until early May is “Unveiled: New Art from the Middle East.” It is not a screaming revolutionary art show. But it is revolutionary.

You will remember the women’s “shrouds” that contain an iron or a broom or a pair of rubber dish-washing gloves rather than faces. Shadi Ghadirian complements these images with those of women in royal clothes and royal apartments pushing a vacuum clearner of listening to a boom box. The image of “royal woman” is objectified in the Kantian sense into an instrument.

Equally interesting are a set of drawings done by Tala Madani. These are of imaginary secret men’s meetings. There is one called “Ice Cream” which caricatures a men’s meeting by filling it with streams of pink and brown paint. We are told that the strawbery-chocolate colours of Neapolitan gelato conjur a Mafioso affiliation, “its sickly sweet gore transforming [a] blood bath to festive delight.”
Another, called “Holy Light” pictures another secret men’s meeting, this time with a “golden shower” pouring over them. According to the notes, “Madani renders this scene with minimal detail, the painting’s crude content becoming a loaded approach to formalism.” Perhaps the word is “unloaded”?

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