It’s audacious but it’s also witty and fun and it makes you want to think but makes you wonder. It’s a major artistic coup for Adelaide with a selection from the renowned Saatchi Gallery being shown for the first time ever in Australia. And if you don’t consider yourself an arts buff, this could be just the exhibition to really make you think about art just a little differently.
We have 123 works by 42 artists selected by the eminent international curator Charles Saatchi. Charles has been collecting art since the seventies and over that period of time he’s developed a reputation of being able to be ahead of the game so what he’s done for us here in Adelaide is select and take the pulse of British art now so what you see is art that taps into what’s going on in the world, you’ll see all manner of things that will confuse you and delight you and make you scratch your head but in essence it’s what artists think of the world right now.
Leigh: This is a real coup for Adelaide because we’re the only city that has the privilege of this exhibition.
Nick: Yes some ten years ago Charles was going to bring some works to Australia but that exhibition didn’t go ahead so this is the first time in Australia that Saatchi’s works are shown in this country so we’re thrilled and we have the works on display for another five weeks and we’ve had great attention from all around the country and Adelaide has come abuzz because of it.
Leigh: And of course Charles Saatchi rose to prominence in the advertising industry and he’s married to Nigella Lawson.
Nick: He’s a curious and mysterious figure and I think that the mystique of Saatchi is part of the allure of him. He rarely gives interviews he never attends his own exhibitions but he’s totally an artaholic by his own admission. He lives and breathes art and is totally focused on making art as accessible to as many people as he can.
Leigh: I have to say walking around there’s an extraordinary diversity of what’s on display, and some of it I don’t get, but that’s alright?
Nick: I think it’s about curiosity, it’s about thinking differently, looking at things that ask more questions than they provide you. I think contemporary art is about making you think and ponder the world and what we have is a broad cross section of paintings sculptures ceramics that does ask more of you than the works give you.
Leigh: It’s one thing to look at art in a book or see on television but it’s really only when you’re here that you get the impact it’s quite extraordinary.
Nick: You do and just in this room scale is important and the surface, we’re standing behind this luminescent picture that’s like a mirror and we’ve got dogs next to us four meters high so the scale the texture the feel are all part of the experience and the journey through this exhibition really heightens all your senses.
Leigh: And when you take a closer look at some of the works, you’ll be astounded by the thought processes behind some of these pieces, such as the work of French born Clarisse Darcimole who painstakingly reproduces her family photographs, depicting the same scene and subject decades later. You can also wander past a Peruvian burial wall, be stopped in your tracks by a pink Cher and be puzzled by what’s happening in the corner.
The Saatchi Gallery exhibition is a journey guaranteed to delight, puzzle and sometimes shock.
Nick: it’s really Charles Saatchi’s vision so what you see here is an insight into his own mind. He selected these works specifically for Adelaide and it’s a wonderful cross section. It doesn’t try to survey art but gives you an idea of what’s going on in the minds of artists.
Leigh: What’s your vision for what the gallery can do?
Nick: THE AGSA is focused on making art accessible to as many people as possible, be it the colonial Australian art, euro collection or Asian collection, so education and making the gallery a friendly place is important to me and so next couple of years you’ll see more focus on children’s programs, education for schools and also a broad cross section for adults and senior groups. So-
Leigh: -Something for everyone?
Nick: Something for everyone. It’s a difficult job but the objective is simple, to ensure that art touches the lives of as many people as possible because art does something that goes beyond all the other things in our life, hopefully it makes us think, makes us ponder our own place in the world and makes us hopefully appreciate the great still and imagination of artists.
Leigh: The Saatchi gallery exhibition is open until the 23rd of October. It really is something quite unusual and something you shouldn’t miss.