Revelations: New Work by Aidan at the Saatchi Gallery
Running alongside Champagne Life at the Saatchi Gallery, Aidan Salakhov’s recent work clearly has much to say about the changing nature of gender roles in the 21st century. The style with which she does so is testament to both her current status and her background. Aidan is now a professor at the Moscow State Surikov Institute of Fine Arts, where she graduated in 1987 in the Soviet Era whilst her ethnic heritage links her to Azeri and Uzbekistani culture. Here, her focus is on the veil as a symbol of patriarchy, which she reconfigures in offbeat ways with both marble sculpture and avant-garde video art.
In fact it is the more cutting edge work that achieves the least resonance. The video installation is, whilst memorable enough, closer to a self-parody of overtly feminist art than Aidan no doubt intended. We observe a harem of veiled women controlling scantily clad male models on leashes to a pulsating beat in chicer-than-thou chiaroscuro lighting. It has a certain mesmeric quality, but it also seems to be striving rather gracelessly to tackle a hot button issue. In fact the surreal French film Holy Motors used the fetishising of the veil as a sight gag when satirising the Parisian avant-garde scene back in 2012.
Revelations excels when it comes to Aidan’s marble sculptures, which are powerfully original. She imaginatively balances black-and-white as the symbolic representation of tradition and modernity. These include both a series of pale books spooling into rigid blackness, and ruffled white waves spilling out of cloaks the colour of night.
The bulk of Aidan’s work gets under the skin because it is ominously quiet in its style and confidence and not noisily off-key like her more experimental work.
Revealtions: New Work by Aidan is at the Saatchi Gallery from 13th January until 28th February 2016, for further information visit here.