I was going to try and think up an alternative name for this post, but in the end I didn’t. Because, to me, the name ‘Saatchi’ has such a ring and a feeling to it that I genuinely don’t think I can do any better. Saatchi. I’m saying it out loud as I type that, I love it. It’s such a strange, peculiar and unusual name, and my does it suit the paintings inside the gallery.

Image

One of the most exciting moments for me in the Saatchi was when I spotted Odires Mlászho’s adaptations of Augustus and Julius Caesar’s sculptures. Now for people who know me, they know there is no way I wouldn’t get excited about these . At university I studied Classics. For those of you who don’t know, which, in my time, I have discovered is quite a few, that’s Latin and Ancient Greek. Yeah, I know, you’re not the first person to have responded to that fact with the question, ‘Why?’, but anyway. Reading the descriptions of the paintings in the room I had just entered (it featured in addition a huge bust made out of paper) I immediately clocked the words ‘Julius Caesar’ and ‘Augustus’. Mlászho has placed a circle of an incredibly apt photography on top of the prints of the original sculptures (you can see it on the Saatchi’s website, here http://www.saatchigallery.com/artists/artpages/odires_mlaszho_augustus.htm). The effect is quite incredible. At first glance the two images appear to work wonderfully together; your brain just makes them fit. But the more you make yourself aware of the differences between the two mediums, really look, for example, at the angle of Augustus’ eyes in comparison with his nose, the more the two media seem at variance with one another. They are of course completely estranged in terms of time, if nothing else. In addition, when you see the sculptures themselves, the eyes are blank, and can only convey emptiness. There is substantial evidence that the Romans themselves didn’t leave their statues the cold, clean marble we associate with them, but instead painted them, even filling in the eyes. Therefore the picture we are given here, with Augustus and Julius Caesar’s piercing gaze, is much more realistic and in tune with what the Romans themselves would have seen. Thus the effect, I feel is to bring a vivified and novel realness to the sculptures, while remaining quite true to their original, Classical intention.

And this is another thing that’s wonderful about the Saatchi, you can wander from modernised representations of Roman figures, to… well, just about anything. Probably my favourite painting, which was too complex to ever do justice to in a photo, was Zak Smith’s 100 girls, 100 octopuses. Yes, the title is quite self-explanatory. It’s a huge piece, acrylic and metal ink on paper, but with each figure only a few centimetres high. It’s in the style reminiscent of a block of flats, where the viewer can see into each one, and in each one is at least one girl or one octopus, usually a combination, and often in some very bizarre poses. It’s brilliant. Plus, look at how much space they give the paintings:

Saatchi example

That’s not a real Saatchi painting by the way, I’m too scared of copyright infringement. I put it in iPhoto and pretended the whole painting was a blemish to see what it would do; it looks kinda cool.

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