Sometimes contemporary art is a bit difficult to understand and hard to appreciate, especially if you expect to find something pretty like a drawing for a beautiful sunset. For me, art, and particularly contemporary art, is that one that explores your other feelings and pushes you to different state than the one you were before.
This week I went to the opening for a new exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery, that is one of the most prestigious galleries for contemporary art in the UK. Room after room of very shocking and outrageous pieces are part of this new exhibition called Post Pop: East meets West. As you walk around the gallery you will find art that makes you think, that pushes you to analyze and that let you interpret the idea that the artist wanted to express in that piece.
Many of the pieces are shocking and I could spend lines and lines on this blog describing the many feelings and ideas I got from every piece, bu I will just describe the special one. In the second floor there is a room that has two different ways to access it. Through the one I went I could see at the end of the room the image of a naked lady in a very awkward and disturbing position. For a second I thought that it was almost like looking at porn in the wall: a very explicit image of a girl masturbating! But then, as I walked closer, the image of that lady vanished away since it is made only by red squares that change in size in a black background. Big and small squares change the color density and that makes the disturbing image that was there a few meters away, but since I was really close to the painting -that was the size of the wall- it was impossible to see the naked lady there. Being so close I couldn´t really see the figure.
Right the moment I was admiring the painting and the small and big squares, a man there, a bit extravagant in his late 50s, started talking to me. “The red painting is vinyl and that is why it has a texture. You can even touch it and feel the squares in your fingers” -the man said, as he started scratching with his fingers one of the squares. Two ideas rushed into my mind: First, you are not supposed to touch the paintings! If they see you, you will be kicked out of the gallery! And second, are you aware that one of those squares is precisely… ejem, part of the naked lady? The man insisted so I gently rubbed the painting with my fingers, feeling a bit awkward. They will kick me out of the gallery and only for this guy that is making me touch the painting.
Two seconds later, a photographer asked me to move away from the painting. He wanted to take a photo of the piece of art with the artist right next to it. The guy that was making me touch the painting was in fact the artist! Not everybody gets to go to an art gallery and be pushed by the artist to touch his work. Then I realised the interaction that the viewer has with the painting. If you are close, is only red squares in a black canvas, whilst if you are away is a very explicit image. If I would have walked to that room through the other way -that I guess like half of the visitors do, since there is no reason to walk through one or the other- I would have first seen the red squares without understanding what they are and then I would have stepped back to see the naked lady. Half of the visitors get one impresion from that room and the other half, my half, get an awkward feeling just by stepping inside the room.
I strongly recommend this new -and free- exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery that will be there until February 2015.