Post Pop: East Meets West at Saatchi Gallery
“Bringing together 250 pieces of original work by 110 different artists, this exhibition aims to bring contemporary art and its influences to as wide an audience as possible”, Saatchi Gallery director Nigel Hurst explained at the grand opening of Post Pop: East Meets West.
The concept behind the exhibition is simple: to survey perhaps the most dominant and significant art movement of the 20th century. However, East Meets West is no run-of-the-mill collection, content merely to document the journey of Pop Art through the decades; rather, it takes art lovers on a journey across the globe. The collection includes the work of artists from China, Taiwan and the former Soviet Union, as well as those from Britain and the US.
A fundamentally conflicting mash-up of cultures is presented in way that is both mordant and emotive, as everything from Stalinism to Disney to Christianity is satirised. The iconic images of opposing hemispheres are brought side-by-side unapologetically: Chairman Mao meets Marilyn Monroe; the Hammer and Sickle meet the Golden Arches. Imperial, communist East meets materialistic Western mayhem.
Perhaps the crowning glory of the exhibition is Shanghai-born artist Gu Wenda’s stunning United Nations: Man and Space – an installation featuring flags of the world made entirely of human hair. Elsewhere, the Sex and the Body exhibit provides an inevitable licentious undertone, deriding humanity’s obsession with sex in popular culture since the 1960s.
In all, there is enough nostalgia and shock value for even the least artistically inclined to come away from Post Pop: East Meets West having had a memorable experience. For those willing to scratch even just a little beneath the surface, however, there is something more: a profound study of human obsession, ideology, religion and materialism that offers just a glimpse of what the “other” gets up to when the lights go out.
Photos: Zak Macro
Post Pop: East Meets West is at Saatchi Gallery until 23rd February 2015, for further information visit here.