Korean Eye at the Saatchi
It wasn’t easy returning to London from Italy. The first week back, and there was rain every day. Grey skies, autumnal temperatures, AND I was expected to be able to work 9-5 every day. Where’s the justice, the cappuccinos on the beach, the Bologna porticos and red-tinted palazzos? Eagerly I worked through the week, each day that passed taking me one day closer to the weekend, when an attempt to relive the Italy experience would commence.
Our efforts were fairly successful. As the grey clouds passed and London finally began to heat up again, we headed to an Italian restaurant, Getti, on Marylebone High Street on the Saturday, where the smells of fresh mozzarella on a crispy thin pizza base were now wonderfully familiar – it was like an Italian homecoming. We even managed to utilise a little of our now polished restaurant Italian.
Meanwhile, on the Sunday morning, it was a trip to Chelsea that satisfied all of our holiday yearnings. Sat out having a creamy cappuccino (again, Italian made) in the fashionable Duke of York’s square, in the full uninterrupted summer sunshine, felt just like being back on the Mediterranean. And, as is so often the effect of sunlight and warmth, it got us in the mood to indulge. Sadly for our wallets, this meant for subsequent glasses of prosecco, a large plate of Italian cheese, the undoubtedly unnecessary but practically irresistible purchase of various Olympics merchandise and even a new printer. Whoops.
But with our minds opened by the light summer mood which befalls all of us when seduced by the sun’s rays, it was surely the perfect time to head to the Saatchi gallery, whose frequently changing works of contemporary art usually fail to impress me, if not make me despair. But whether it be the sun which had opened my mind, or just the sheer brilliance of the works on show, Saatchi’s new show, Korean Eye 2012, which is the largest survey of contemporary Korean art in the UK to date, is fascinating throughout.
The show started with a trademark Saatchi huge white gallery full of very little. But that little there was on show was actually pretty cool. Yeesookyung’s Translated Vase (2007) aims to transform everyday objects into new contemporary forms. It’s a simple idea, but effective as a piece of contemporary sculpture – and I particularly liked the use of gold grouting which acts as a consistent element bringing the shards from various pots together as a single, newly innovated shape.
Next up, in gallery 2, were the works that got me completely hooked on this show. These were large mixed-media works by Bae Joonsung which looked pretty innocuous at first – until you moved past the canvas and realised that some aspects were moving, and other disappearing. Joonsung brilliantly incorporates painting and photography, executed upon different sheets of transparent acrylic which act almost like a hologram so that, when you view the painting from different angles, the work changes before your very eyes. I’ll let my photos demonstrate as best as they can…
Also in gallery 2 were the 32 ceramic heads which comprise the work of Debbie Han, The Battle of Conception (2004-10). The heads look identical from a distance, but again, closer viewing betrays different facial features in each one, as the artist attempts to demonstrate with diverse facial features the different racial and ethnic characteristics that exist across the human race. In this respect, the work builds upon racial stereotypes, and explores the significance of human perception as the key to defining ourselves and others.